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Greenland Whitewater Expedition

Greenland Whitewater Kayaking Expedition
In July 2007 two kayakers from England set out to explore possibly the last unspoilt, unexplored whitewater destination in the world. With only images from google Earth, a loose contact with a fisherman and a willingness to immerse themselves into the wilderness, an expedition unfolded. What they found could be the start of a pilgrimage of explorative kayakers to the largest non-continental island in the world.

The incentives apart from none of the rivers ever having been paddled before, were: the oldest bedrock granite in the world, guaranteed snow/glacier melt and good gradient.

This is a photo Journal of our trip:

Flying in over East Greenland, an intimidating place

The River Quingua near Narsarsuaq

Some of the people we came across on the ferry heading north

A future kayaker perhaps? His father was loading traditional inuit kayaks on to the ferry north where the kayak championships were being held. Including disciplines like eskimo rolling and spear chucking.

We arranged to travel further north to a fjord called Bjornesund on a fishing boat called the Nardhvalen that became our second home. The owner of the boat, Jasper, was a great help to us and we owe much of the success of the trip to him.

Thanks again for everything you did, we know you'll be reading this at some point.

The 40kg of freeze dried expedition food we had sent out for the 4 missions, it didn't last long and luckily we could get more supplies

Jasper sailing away, leaving us in true wilderness, over 100 miles from any other person. This is a feeling that I can't explain and one that sometimes, when doing first descents on hard rivers you have to put to the back of your mind, but never forget.

Base camp with "Big White Line In The Sky Creek" in the background

The 3000ft hike to the top of the giant slide and the rapids above.

One of the best and cleanest slides we ran

Identical lines, identical scars from the aptly named granite rash slide

With no roads in Greenland the walk-ins were long and arduous, with poor maps and no idea of what we may find, sometimes it was hard to keep going with 60-70 kilos on your back.

After walking for 3 days we got to the source of this river, like many we did, it didn't even have a name. Here the ice cap comes down and meets this lake. Probabbly the most impressive put on we've ever done

Icebergs in the fall

A few rapids down this river lost a massive amount of gradient in one set of huge falls. We turned around seeing litle point in going on without the gradient and we were quickly running out of food. The difficulty in getting to this river and the lack of runnable rapids made the turnaround the most demoralising part of the expedition. We always knew there would be great highs and huge lows.

After walking back up the river, devistated and exhausted the sunsetting over ice cap put everything back into perspective. We realised where we were and how lucky we were to be there.

We left Bjornsumd and headed to rivers around the notorious Paamuit. A deprived town that has a very keen hobby of drinking. We arrived there after we were forced to call Jasper on the sat. phone once our tent, sleeping bags and dry clothes were blown in to the sea.

The mouth of the river where the tent blew away

An expensive and very lairy Friday night in Paamuit paid off when we met up with Talik, a member of the Danish navy who was mapping the ocean floor. He had a day off on the Saturday and offered to spend it driving us in the Danish speedboats to the next river in only 2 hours. It would have taken us two days to kayak there.

Thanks Talik

Here the Glacial melt water merges into the snow melt water of a tributary, we used to this spot to catch fish as they couldn't see the lure in the milky glacial water

This was another unamed river, very continuous in nature from the start of this impressive fall to the sea. Check out the film to see this one.

Our luck continued and after sea kayaking 30 of the 50 kms back to town we met up with some more friendly fishermen who we hitched a ride with.

The last river, probably the best and possibly the most serious, involved careful planning to be as safe as possible. To film and take still photography was impossible to do safely. Tripods helped.

A tributary of the Quordlortoq, the spray climbing up the right side of the canyon wall (looking upstream) is from a waterfall coming in from the left.

A caribou was caught swimming just below one of the hardest rapids we did "Caribou Blues"

A view from the safety of the Nardhvalen's kitchen after Jasper picked us up when the weather turned bad again, this time on the Quordlortoq

Icebergs and whales viewed from the Nardhvalen, the tied up fish were drying to be eaten later.

The team photo at the bottom of the Quordlortoq river. The falls behind had no name, no local hunter we spoke to knew of them, we dubbed them the "Gates of Quordlortoq" one of the most majestic and magnificent pieces of whitewater we had ever seen. The feeling we had, reaching this point knowing that we had survived, with only a few scrapes and bruises, the rivers of Greenland was beyond satisfaction. However, modest, there was so much we left undone, so much to go back for.

Ali Marshall and Simon Tapley

To see more of this and the rest of the trips since "The Chaos Theory" check out the new film "Revenge of the Fat Cats" soon to be released. Keep an eye out for the trailor coming in a few weeks.

Thanks to The White Water Canoe Centre, Pyrhana Kayaks and Palm Equipment.


At 10:12 AM, Blogger Adrian Tregoning said...

Incredible! Your trip looked really great. I'm very envious.. :-) Thanks for sharing.


At 12:28 PM, Blogger Adrian Tregoning said...

Sorry, just a quick question:

Did you guys fly with all that gear to Greenland? Or did you ship ahead your stuff by plane/boat? Thanks.

Just curious because recently I flew to Scandinavia and even without stuff like a tent, sleeping bag, stove, food etc. it was a lof stuff to take with.

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Fat Cats said...

Hi there Adrian, thanks for your comments. We bought our food through a company in England who delivered it out there. Everything else we took on the plane with us, British Airways were fine as always with boats and excess. Air Greenland were ok but charged us for excess, which is fair enough. There wasn't much room for luxuries tho.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Ewart Aylward said...


wow wow and wow. The whole place looks stunning.It must be very hard to convey some very special feelings. Great photos. Great adventure. well done.
Ewart Aylward

At 11:17 PM, Blogger AdrenalineRush said...

Damn boys... honestly some of the sickest looking whitewater i've ever seen... fuck yah...

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Meistarinn said...

You can also fly from Iceland over to three places in Greenland; Nuuk, Kulusuk and Narsarsuaq.

But once you get a taste of the icelandic rivers you'll forget Greenland, for a while at least:-)

At 7:26 PM, Blogger Mike NZ said...

Awesome trip guys. Im in Iceland at the mo heading to Greenland next week. (I work on a private super yacht) Any chance of some info on rivers, particularly around Nuuk, although we will be heading west from here then down and around the coast then up to Nuuk. Rivers I could walk into from the coast or possibly chopper to (if I sweet talk the owner) Any info be great, Cheers, Mike

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Mike NZ said...

Meistarinn, Hi, assume you are an icelandic paddler? Ive been told theres nothin much running at the moment, except for the river they raft up north. Is this True? I could possibly organise a fly in for us if there is anything worth running. A bit of local knowledge would be great, Mike

At 8:32 PM, Blogger APScotland2 said...

Hi Ali, its Jim Gibson, Ive got a young paddling mate travelling out to Canada next year, I wonder if I can put him in touch with you for when he is out there. You can get me on info @aquaplayscotland.com
I hope life is treating you well. I have followed your progress through your dvd's, awesome man!

At 3:59 AM, Blogger Ben said...

A friend and I are thinking about planning a trip to Greenland and I was wondering if we could get some logistical info from you guys, it looks like an awesome trip!


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