Welcome to Tangent Expeditions!
The World's leading operator of mountaineering and ski expeditions to Arctic Greenland!
The Only 'comprehensive' website guide to mountaineering and ski-touring expeditions to Arctic Greenland.
20 years of research, planning, guiding and expertise; unrivalled experience, focus & attention to detail.
** ARCTIC TRILOGY **
GUNNBJØRNSFJELD, DOME AND CONE (Watkins Mountains)
As the highest peak in the Arctic, Gunnbjørnsfjeld is often referred to as the "8th summit" amongst those wishing to add to their 7 summits challenge. Only Tangent Expeditions holds the full and complete record of all known ascents of these peaks. After the ascent of Gunnbjørnsfjeld we will make a first ascent of one of the few remaining highest unclimbed peaks in the Arctic (c.3500m). It will be a largely non technical ascent within the alpine grade PD and is as yet un-named. Specific details will be sent to clients once a booking has been received. A great opportunity to make Arctic mountaineering history! The Watkins Mountains are without doubt the most impressive ranges of arctic summits, peaks, cliffs and massifs in Greenland. Ski touring potential is fantastic, as are the wealth of peaks, faces and routes awaiting their first ski or snowboard descent!
Tangent Expeditions is without doubt the leading authority on mountaineering expeditions to Gunnbjornsfjeld and the Watkins Mountains, having so far arranged 27 previous expeditions to these peaks, and a further 30 expeditions to the surrounding mountain ranges. No other guiding company is running, or has run, expeditions to these summits for the last several years due to very high overheads for private aircraft charter. However it has always been our commitment to clients to continue running trips on minimal margins to allow people to appreciate the true and awe inspiring beauty of this region.
The Only Guiding Company for the Watkins Mountains!
It is virtually unheard of for any other guiding organisation to carry out an expedition to the Watkins Mountains. In fact this has only happened once in the past 12 years. This is partly due to the spiraling costs of mounting such a one off expedition to this remote region of the Arctic, but also the lack of the in depth knowledge and expertise that Tangent holds. With the use of our ski equipped Twin Otter aircraft, Tangent remains the ONLY company offering guaranteed expeditions to these peaks. This is possible by linking together the complex flight logistics of several of our expeditions in a manner that makes our expeditions much more cost effective. We also operate on much lower margins than other companies in our mission to provide fantastic Arctic mountaineering experiences at affordable prices. We hear from many clients who've been climbing in Antarctica before, comment on how Greenland is far greater value for money, yet equally comparable for the sheer scale, awe and beauty of the region.
The group will meet in Reykjavik on the expedition start date before taking an internal flight to Constable Point in Northeast Greenland the next morning. We will meet up here with our advance shipment of expedition goods and fly south the same day over the ice filled Scoresby Sound fjord and coastal mountain ranges direct to Gunnbjørnsfjeld base camp. The final part of the flight offers unparalleled views of literally thousands of unclimbed summits stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction. An amazing sight as the anticipation and excitement builds in preparation for the glacier landing. Due to the payload restrictions it is only possible to fly with 5 people on one flight and therefore two flights will be required.
Base camp in intended to be at the Twin Otter aircraft landing site at the foot of access glacier leading up to the SW ridge of Gunnbjørnsfjeld. Position N68'56 W29'43. Altitude 2180m.
Altitude & Acclimatisation
Upon arriving at Gunbjørnsfjeld base camp, Day 1 will be spent acclimatizing and going through equipment and safety procedures. A short ski journey will be undertaken to check that everybody's skis and skins are in order. The following day a recce ski ascent will be made to a position halfway up the access glacier, in a natural bowl at 2850m, where a depot of climbing equipment will be made. The group will then ski back down to base camp checking the snow descent conditions and the ski ability of the team. Depending on weather and the fitness and experience of the group it is likely that one rest day will be taken before an attempt will be made on the peak. The depot of equipment will be collected en route to aid easier progress during the first half of the ski ascent. It is likely the team will arrive at the col just below the summit ridge after approximately 6-7 hours. From an altitude of 3400m the team will switch to crampons and roping up for the ascent of the SW ridge. Under normal conditions it should be possible to move together throughout the ascent, with the possible placing of occasional running belays on one steeper section (one or two rope lengths). The whole ascent and return to base camp should take between 11 and 14 hours. Depending on the nature and fitness of the group, couple with local weather and snow conditions, it is possible to set up an intermediate camp at the 2850m depot site, resulting in a shorter summit day of 7-10 hours.
Base camp may then be moved several kilometers to an advance base camp between Dome and Cone. From this location both these peaks can be climbed as day ascents before returning to the main base camp. If time and conditions allow, a further ascent will be made of one of the few remaining unclimbed peaks in the area.
Accommodation in Iceland is provided on a Bed & Breakfast basis, and other meals are not included in Iceland. Expedition food will be provided on a full board basis for the time spent on expedition in Greenland. This will include camping style food during transit at Constable Point airport. If clients choose to eat in the airport canteen this is not included and should be paid for locally in Danish crowns or by credit/debit card.
There will be 24 hour daylight and the Midnight Sun throughout this expedition.
The Watkins Mountains typically enjoy good periods of stable weather during May and June and base camp is quite well sheltered and rarely receives strong winds. We would normally expect snowfall once or twice in a 2 week expedition but conditions can range from no snowfall at all up to 30cm over a few days. The sun is very strong and day time / night time temperatures will range from +10 to -20 degrees C. As a dry cold, and with little wind, it usually feels significantly warmer than the air temperature suggests. Our latest 2009 and 2010 expeditions experienced continuous blue skies and calm weather throughout.
Level of Camping
The expedition will involve camping in snow conditions on a permanently snow covered glacier. During periods of snowfall it will sometimes be necessary to 'dig out' your tent and maintain good overall camp organisation and camp craft skills. In contrast, on warm calm days it will be possible to easily sit, chat and wash outside, dry wet/washed clothing and sunbathe! Spring camping in the Watkins Mountains is generally very easy and strong winds are rarely a feature. Individuals and tent pairs will be expected to cook their own food as tent teams.
Experience & Fitness Required
Ascents of all three highest peaks will involve full day ski tours and ski ascents/descents which will typically be of around 10-12 hours depending on ski ability. The ascents will involve easy angle ski ascents/descents on large glaciers where crevasses can usually be avoided. The team will travel largely un-roped on the main access glaciers where there is no need to cross crevasses. The final few hundred metres of each ascent will be on foot and involve mainly moving together on easy slopes with the occasional rope length of grade 1 (40 degree) slopes. The team will be carrying ropes and suitable protection to safe guard any steeper sections. No rock climbing experience is required. There is no requirement to join the group on all ascents. Skiing ability should be such that you are able to confidently descend blue ski runs. Alternatively show shoes can be used. Alpine touring (Randonee), Nordic mountain touring, Telemark, and split snowboard ski equipment are all suitable for this expedition. Snow shoes are acceptable for non skiers but will result in slower descent times. Clients should have previous camping experience, preferably in snow conditions, and be competent in the use of ice axe and crampons for winter mountain walking. Clients should have good mountain hill walking fitness and be capable of long and hard hill days of up to 10 hours or more when required.
There is no requirement for more specific extreme clothing other than normal Scottish winter or summer alpine clothing and boots. This should of course include windproof jackets and trousers/salopettes and rigid sole mountaineering boots capable of taking a step-in crampon. A lightweight insulated down jacket is recommended for sitting outside in the evenings and for short stops on the hill.
Tangent will provide Snowsled pulk sledges, North Face tents, snow pegs, floor insulation, MSR stoves, lightweight plywood stove boards, fuel bottles, fuel cans, fuel funnels, stove spares kits, lighters, pans, white gas fuel, food, toilet paper, maps & aerial reconnaissance photos, GPS, group survival shelter, snow shovels, emergency flares, PLB (emergency locator beacon), rifle & ammunition (Polar Bear deterrent), VHF air band radio, walkie talkie radios, satellite telephone & solar re-charging system, emergency flares, base camp medical kit, mountain first aid kit, general spares and repair kit, client prussik loops, ropes & all snow/ice climbing and crevasse rescue equipment for security on steep ground and glacier travel, general spares and repair kit.
Clients will need to provide their own large rucksack/travel bag, 55+ litre daysack, sleeping bag suitable for -20'c, inflatable sleeping mattress (& repair kit), foam sleeping mattress, water/windproof jacket and trousers, suitable ski touring/Telemark/split board skis and boots (or snowshoes), ski poles, skins, spare skin glue, avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe, crampons, full winter clothing, insulated jacket (optional), expedition gloves/hat/balaclava, 100% UV sun glasses, 100% UV snow goggles, 1 litre metal flask, 1 litre water bottle, eating/drinking cup/bowl/utensils, pee (toilet) bottle, multi-tool knife, harness, helmet, 5 x screwgate karabiners, ice axe & hammer, GPS (optional), compass.
Please see our insurance site www.insuregreenland.com for details.
Bruce Goodlad will be leading this year's Gunnbjørnsfjeld expedition. Bruce is an IFMGA Mountain Guide who runs his own guiding company in Chamonix and has instructed and guided all over the UK, Europe, Russia, Nepal and Antarctica.
Leader / Guides - Premium Experience
For those wishing to have a more exclusive opportunity to climb and ski in the Watkins Mountains in 2012 we are offering our Premium Experience. The aim is to provide no less than 3 highly skilled and experienced guides to give maximum flexibility and opportunities within the group. This will reduce guiding ratios to just 3 clients per guide. The expedition leader will be Paul Rose, an experienced Greenland guide who's led several previous Tangent ice cap crossing expeditions and led our successful 2002 and 2010 Watkins Mountains expeditions. Paul led our first trip to climb the rarely ascended north ridge route and summited GBF on 2nd June 2002. He then led the team to make the first ascent of one of the highest unclimbed arctic summits, Paul's Mirage 3350m, which lies just to the north of GBF, followed by a first ascent of Jubilee Peak 3206m climbed on the Queen's 50th Jubillee on 3rd June. He made the first ascent of the twin summits of Mt Eggars 2824m and several repeat ascents of other peaks. Paul repeated Gunnbjørnsfjeld, Dome and Cone again in May 2010. Paul has huge Antarctic experience and is better known nowadays for his BBC TV documentary work on climate change and for the recent landmark series "Oceans".
Personal Service - all prospective clients are welcome to visit us at our home in Cumbria or Paul Walker will travel to any part of the mainland UK free of charge to meet with you and discuss the expedition in more detail and show you maps and photographs. We believe this benchmark service is offered by no other expedition travel company and supports our commitment to providing an ultimate level of high quality personal service.