Northwest Passage (4)

I must apologize for the temporary pause in posts about this trip, but the past week has been a mad dash to finish the downloading, selecting, and starting the printing of images for an upcoming Open Studio event that will happen (gulp!) in less than four weeks.  I have about a dozen prints to take over to my framing guys tomorrow and I hope they don’t have a backlog of other requests because I still have another 12-15 to go.  I am wondering if I was a little rash in promising to feature the Artic in this year’s show.


Evening Clouds, Baffin Bay

Enough complaining!  Time to resume the story.  The weather turned gloomy as we left Ilulissat and continued north up the western coast of Greenland.  It would turn out that cloudy weather is the norm here, but landscape photographers find that can often bring opportunities.


Light Rain, Baffin Bay, West Coast of Greenland

We were now entering Baffin Bay, named after one of the early European explorers who searched for the Northwest Passage.  We were following the track of Robert Bylot’s and William Baffin’s 1616 expedition that pushed to a point (770  45’)   that  would not be matched for another 157 years.  On that voyage, Baffin provided the first maps of the shoreline we were now passing.  The conditions they encountered that summer as they threaded through the pervasive sea ice were far different than what we were experiencing 400 years later:

“Our shrouds, ropes, and sails were so frozen, that we could scarce handle them.”

Source: James P. Delgado, “Across the Top of the World,” p. 41.


Once Upon a Time, A Glacier was Here

Unlike Bylot and Baffin we still had seen no sea ice and, as we passed along the coast, we saw valley after valley that not long ago had been funnels for glacial ice sheets terminating in the sea.  The glaciers are barely visible now, only the debris-filled moraines left behind as they retreat.  Today, those valleys only have a stream of meltwater coursing down the moraine as the glaciers continue to lose ground.

The next day we stopped in Kullorsuak, a small Inuit village where we disembarked (via Zodiacs) to see demonstrations of traditional hunting and fishing as well as a start-to-finish butchering of a recently killed seal.  We were given the opportunity to sample the very fresh, raw seal’s liver but I graciously allowed the person next to me to enjoy the portion that I was offered.  I will also omit photographic evidence of these activities in accordance with my policy of censoring images of a disturbing nature. The Inuit here, as elsewhere, have been interweaving the practices of western society into their culture. Pallets of Coca-Cola and kids checking their iPhones were as common as the numerous sled dogs who remain a key means of transport during the long winters.


Leaving Kullorsuak at Sunset

(Note houses on right side)

Our last day in Greenland was spent near Savissavik, cruising in Zodiacs among grounded ice bergs in a so-called “iceberg graveyard.”  The low hanging clouds and light rain created a primeval mood as we passed between scores of ice monuments, sculpted into bizarre formations by nature’s elements. My favorite was the 40-foot tall speciman with three arches shown below.


Rare Triple-arched Ice Berg, near Saviisavik, Greenland

Next: Across Baffin Bay into the heart of the Northwest Passage

25 thoughts on “Northwest Passage (4)

    • Thank you! Actually that was a mathematical mistake on my part and I’ll have to make a minor edit. Baffin’s voyage was 400 years ago. In upcoming posts there will be more about the history of the search and the cold weather conditions faced by the explorers didn’t change much between Baffin’s time and the early 20th century.

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  1. What a fantastic tour! I’m glad you pointed out those tiny houses on the right otherwise I might not have noticed them. I like how you processed the images too. They feel cold in a good way! Good luck with all that framing! EEESH! I too hope there is no backlog at your printer!

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    • Thanks, Laura! Fortunately, the framing guys didn’t have a backlog so I am OK with the first batch at least. I’ll be using up a lot more ink on my printer in the next several days to get the rest of them finished so hopefully they won’t get a ton of walk-ins before I get the last batch over there.

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  2. What an surreal experience….. Your images are amazing, I really love the triple-arched iceberg, stunning. I read in your comments it later collapsed….you were meant to see it! Best wishes on your exhibit and looking forward to your next continuing post as you have time. You have us captivated!!


    • Thanks, Donna. Very kind words, indeed. Yes, I was really glad we saw that iceberg. When one takes a trip like this, he/she always has hopes to see a certain something. For my wife it was Narwhals; for me it was one of these arched icebergs.

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