BIG ICE never fails to work MAGIC!

Final posting from our Adventure Canada voyage Out of the Northwest Passage . . .

Day 15: Ilulissat

Late afternoon in Ilulissat, voyagers returned from a 90-minute zodiac cruise among the icebergs looking and sounding exhilarated. The message they carried: BIG ICE! BIG! FANTASTIC! Ilulissat is the third-largest town in Greenland, with 4,541 people (as of 2013) and 6,000 dogs. This is the birthplace of explorer-anthropologist Knud Rasmussen (1879-1933), and his childhood home has become a notable museum. But the main attraction is the Jakobshavn Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004.

The Ilulissat Icefjord flows past the town at 45 metres per day. It produces 35 billion tons of ice each year, and spawns vastly more icebergs than any glacier in the Canadian Arctic. And that explains why, for the cruise, our expedition leader, M.J., put a full complement of 20 zodiacs in the water.

After debarking in the morning, most voyagers undertook the avidly awaited three-kilometre walk through the colorful town, where construction is the order of the day. We hiked to the boardwalk and beyond, scrambling up a hilltop vantage point to look out over the flowing river of ice. This river is believed to have spawned the iceberg that sank the Titanic. Instead of retracing our steps, a couple of us followed the Big Blue Dots and mini-cairns around the back, looking out over the ice all the while, switching eventually to a line of Red Dots that led us back to the start of the boardwalk. This was a good stiff hike and scramble.

Back on the ship, we had intended to follow the zodiac cruise, on this super-packed day, with the polar plunge. But because a good number of people were feeling the chill, we postponed that until tomorrow and set out sailing south through Disko Bay. That inspired the inevitable Disko Party in the Nautilus, complete with crazy costumes, and the rest is best passed over in dignified silence.

[Merry Christmas, y’all!]

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