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My First Iceberg

Mary crosses the ice on komatiks, enroute to base camp.

Today we are traveling across the frozen ocean on komatiks, wooden sledges pulled by snowmobiles, to our Arctic base camp. The ride is bumpy, like traveling in a zodiac across choppy waves. We cross a couple of natural cracks in the ice, 1-4 foot gaps where the frozen ice has split apart to reveal the ocean water beneath. The first crack is a bit frightening (what if our sled falls into the ocean?), but we soon become accustomed to the ease and expertise with which our Inuit guides cross these cracks. They've been traveling this same "highway" of frozen ice for decades, heading out to their favorite hunting grounds at the floe edge.

This afternoon we arrive at our comfortable base camp, nestled between several large icebergs that have frozen into the pack ice. It looks like a scene from a fantasy movie, camping between icebergs can't possibly be real!

Exploring new icy surrounds in the high Arctic

We walk over to one of the icebergs, about 8 stories high, and climb up, stepping where no person has ever stepped before. This iceberg was likely last part of a glacier in Greenland that calved off and floated around the top of Greenland and down to Baffin Island.

The views from the top of the iceberg are stunning. We can see all the way out to the floe edge, where the moving ocean water meets the frozen pack ice. Our Inuit guide chops off a chunk of the iceberg to take back to camp. All of our drinking water for the next week will be supplied by freshly melted iceberg. In another 6 weeks, the ice we have driven on will be melted into Eclipse Sound and this iceberg will again be free to continue its travels south along the ocean currents.

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