Tuesday, 27 June 2017

We made it across the Atlantic Ocean and across to northern arctic Canada!!

morning walk in Nuuk
After a slight disrupted night due to the sawing noises of several cottage neighbours we all enjoyed a lovely breakfast and a local history talk by hostel owner Liessi.

Pirates of the Caribbean? 
Then the Met briefing: not looking good at all for Sisimiut and marginal for the Atlantic crossing.

After a prolonged discussion amongst the pilots the group came to the joint conclusion to give Sisimiut
(which would have only been a refuelling stop not an overnight) a miss and head straight across the sea to - to - Qikiqtarjuaq!

What a name! In short let's just call it Qik!

Luckily we all didn't mind the delayed departure as internet at this hostel was the best we enjoyed for a long time but by 10 we finally headed out to the airport and got the planes ready for the Trans-Atlantic crossing.

The flight across the sea was quite calm but cold and we cruised at ca 6500ft between different layers of stratus cloud.
leaving Greenland for our  Atlantic crossing
Then after ca 1.30 hrs we could see what first looked like land mass, but it was broken ice! thousands of mini drifting ice packs floated around the sea and created wonderful bizarre patterns. sadly I still didn't spot my polar bear.

And then finally: Land in sight!! the rugged mostly uninhibited vast coastline of Northern Canada!!
The weather inland over those massive snow covered mountain ranges looked fantastic, but not so the thick cloud that was in our approach path to land at Qik!
we are in the upper north-eastern sector!

After a descent over the sea through the thick cloud we did our approach just barely over the sea and underneath the cloud at 800-1000ft and finally touched down after 2.30 hrs.

Betty made it back to Canada after nearly four decades 
view to the aeroplanes from the arrival hall
curious and friendly kids at the airport
A friendly Canadian police lady asked us politely to clear immigration before we drove 'down-town' Qitiqtarjuaq to our Hotel, which - compared to what we saw from the rest of the village - was inside quite luxurious and even offered a hot bath and free coffee and tea and wifi!!
a view to the town with our hotel on the right far end side
A recce through this remote tiny settlement revealed a supermarket selling ski-doos, warm jackets (it's 4 degrees here in the height of summer!), a municipality hall which offered free seal meat to the local residents offloaded by a container and a closed park ranger office - oh and many curious little Inuit kids.
seals and bikes

Dinner was a feast in the hostel cafeteria with pork ribs, chicken breast, delicious fresh salads and tons of sweet brownies!
trip to the hotel
Talking to some local chopper pilots we realized how lucky we had been so far with the weather: those boys sometimes get stuck for 2 weeks in a place like this and they had tried already for a week now to get here... pew. Let's just hope we don't get fogged in tomorrow.

The only other sad revelation for me is, that this place is not really ballooning countryside. The ice is already cracking and melting, the ground full of stones, the village dotted with power lines and the rest is steep mountains or the sea.
The local Anglican church
on top of a cairn

So I might have to give my intended flight over snow and ice in the Arctic circle a miss. It's 9pm local time now, but already 11 'our' Greenlandic time, so bed is calling. night night.

abandoned ski doo


  1. Amazing that you've made it - & hope a polar bear does its duty soon & appears in front of you!

  2. Awesome job and lots of good work on the blog!!

  3. Phil and Allie: https://vimeo.com/170986948

  4. A great adventure, and a great success. I have been following your progress since you crossed the Wirral Peninsula at about 2800 feet last week ! Bon Voyage for the rest of this epic journey

    Christopher Storey