Saturday, October 29, 2011

-throwback- Greenland 2007: Chapter Five- Getting Home

Greenland 2007: Chapter Five- Getting Home.

After our aborted climb on the Trillingerne Peak we were left with some time to relax, but not enough time to tackle another big mountain. Around this time a pair of climbing women from Seattle were packing their way into the area, sharing our base camp for a couple of nights. Somehow, through the climber-grapevine, someone in our group had gotten in touch with their group before the trips began so all of us knew the others would be around. We eagerly awaited their arrival, making lists of what we'd do "when the Seattle girls come." One plan involved enslaving Darcy's Indian alter ego "Assbache" as our personal servant. We'd build him a little leanto and he'd cook for us. There weren't any trees to hang a leanto from, and none of us could keep a straight face telling knock knock jokes, much less perpetuating any kind of more involved joke. Anyway, when the girls arrived, we were excited to hear news from the world and share info on our stay in Greenland. Annie thinks we were all at our funniest, entertaining the girls with our wit, energy and goofiness.

I was still a bit antsy, jonesin' for another summit, a new view, and some solo travel through the mountains. I woke early on our second to last morning in basecamp and jogged downstream with a jacket some water and a Snickers bar. I forded, hiked and scrambled almost 6000 vertical feet to a peak just above our basecamp, immediately opposite the Fox Jaw Cirque. A big rock pile, obviously man-made, marked the top. Maybe whomever climbed the peak first, and/or whomever built the rock pile named the peak, but we know it only as "Peak 1519" (It's 1,519 meters above sea level).

A view of the Fox Jaw and surroundings, with peaks marked.

I raced back to camp to rejoin the group. We spent one last night in basecamp, entertaining the Seattle girls with our comaraderie. We really were, by then, a pretty tight little group. We had our comic routines, our inside jokes, our climbs that bonded us. We packed up the day before our scheduled boat pick-up and schlepped huge packs out to the beach. We had beer stashed there, as well as some extra booze. We partied down, firing off the unused rifle shells and creatively disposing of extra fuel. We burned some trash and crammed our stuff back into travel bags. And here's where it got interesting.
Before we even left the states, we negotiated with a fellow in Tasiilaq named Dines Michaelsson for charter boat travel from the Kulusuk Airport, by way of grocery stores, to the Fox Jaw Cirque and back to the Airport. He would carry all of us on all those legs for 9000 Danish Kroner (abbreviated DKK. 9000 DKK was at the time about
$1800). When we arrived at the airport, we bought some white gas for our camp stoves and rented a rifle, all from Dines, for another 1000 DKK. Because of the thinly stocked store shelves, shopping for our food was complicated at best. Dines did well to take at least one of us to 3 different stores, eventually getting as much food as we could get at the time. The downside was that we did not all get to visit Tasiilaq, the biggest town in the area. Before he even dropped us off at the Fox Jaw, we agreed to pay Dines yet another 1000 Kroner to take us to Tasiilaq for a couple of days visit on our way home. Now, total charges 11000 DKK. We paid him 5000 on the way in. He owed us a trip from the Fox Jaw to Tasiilaq, and a trip from Tasiilaq to the airport at Kulusuk a couple of days later. And we owed him 6000 Kroner. Seemed pretty simple.
He picked us up in the Fox Jaw as scheduled. We boated through green fjords, walked on an ice berg, checked out native ruins along the way, and enjoyed a magical boat ride through misty towering icebergs into Tasiilaq. On the dock in town, as we're unloading our stuff and trying to find a place to stay until we have to leave. Dines tells us he cannot take us to Kulusuk anymore. We'll have to find another boat. And we still owe him 6000 DKK. We balk at paying him more he deserves, try to appeal to his business sense by reminding him that he had promised us one deal, nothing seems to sway him. Finally, kind of suddenly, he walks off, telling us he's going for the police because we are not paying him. He actually went to get our common acquaintance and the hut owner, Hans Christian. Hans and Dines tracked us down in town, and Hans read us the riot act. He was under the impression that we intended to leave town without paying. We couldn't even figure out how to leave town, much less leave on the sly. We told Hans our side of the story, over the next 24 hours and a couple of meetings, he mediated with Dines, Dines wanted to take us, but for even more money. We reached an agreement- Dines would take us to Kulusuk, we'd split the difference on money, and he'd take us earlier than planned.

We flew to Reykjavik, partied down, and flew on home. Annie and I flew right into San Francisco and back to work. We arrived late on a Thursday and I was guiding on Saturday. Annie met with our boss that Saturday, and he offered her a big-city style high speed job running the guiding business we've worked for. The opportunities and chaos and pace were quite overwhelming but we've adapted. Josh returned to New Hampshire, bought himself a truck and drove across the country to a rock climbing guides' course. Kadin made his way to California where he has now dissapeared into tree trimming or climbing wall construction or something like that. Nate returned to Salt Lake City on that same Thursday night, and drove to Idaho on Friday morning for work. Darcy had a few days to re-enter at home- he bought a house a year ago, and has spent just a few days there. Erin and Jess, the Seattle girls, returned to the States about a month behind us. They climbed a route on the Baby Molar and one on the Right Rabbit Ear. Their trip was marked with blueberries, darkening frosty nights, and visits from foxes that we never really saw.

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