Section 1: Logistics

Inside a crevasse on Sarah Glacier

  1. Area Background
  2. The Lemon Mountains were named after Sir Percy Lemon, pilot to the Arctic explorer and cartographer Gino Watkins who first explored the area in the 1930s. The area seems to have acquired a distinctly British connection, having solely been visited by British groups ever since!

    Because of the fine rock in the Lemon Mountains it offers more difficult climbing than much of Greenland. For an area of its quality it is unvisited because it is so remote and expensive to reach. By forming an 8-person expedition, we were able to climb in the Lemon Mountains for less than £2000 each.

    A list of expeditions to the area is shown in an appendix.


  3. Advice and Information
  1. Expedition Advisory Centre, at Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR (tel: 0171 591 3030, fax: 584 4447, e-mail: Shane Winser and friends are mines of information.
    - The Expedition Planner's Handbook (£12?) is a useful book, even for experienced expeditioners. There are lists of companies for expedition equipment or supplies, advice on logistics and fund raising, sources of expedition funds etc.
    - Greenland Fact-file (£5). Lists useful contacts and sources of information on Greenland plus details of past expeditions on the RGS database. The EAS has an extensive database of reports held in the RGS map room; the list is printed in the fact-file with leaders' contact details and the map room reference.
    - The RGS map room (Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm). Here you can pore over maps and reports from their large collection.
  2. Danish Tourist Board, 55 Sloane Street, London. SW1X 9SY (Tel: 0171 259 5959). Source of useful addresses.
  3. Derek Fordham, 66 Ashburnham Grove, Greenwich, London SE10 8UJ. He has led 20 expeditions to Greenland, the Canadian Arctic, and Svalbard.
  4. Tangent Expeditions. Paul Walker, 3 Millbeck, New Hutton, Kendal, Cumbria. LA8 0BL. Tel: 01539 737757. E-mail: web-site: Organises commercial mountaineering expeditions to East Greenland. Call for share of Twin Otter or for him to organise your expedition logistics.
  5. Danish Polar Centre, Copenhagen. See below
  6. Dansk Bjergklub. Dolfi Rotovnik, Solgårdsvej 5, 1. th., DK-2927 Skodsborg, Denmark. They attempt to co-ordinate and record mountaineering activities in Greenland!
  7. Air Iceland, Fridrik Adolfsson, Akureyri, Iceland. Tel: +354 460 7000, Fax: 7090, Mob. +354 894 5390. Because they operate most charter flights to Greenland, Air Iceland have a wealth of knowledge and contacts in the Greenland ‘expedition world’. They can help arrange: pulk hire, satellite telephone hire, gun and bullet hire (more convenient than hiring from UK since you do not need a licence), hire of flares


  1. Logistics

Danish Polar Centre

You need an expedition permit to visit Greenland. Apply to the Danish Polar Centre, Strandgade 100H, DK-1401 Copenhagen K, Denmark (tel: 45 32 88 01 00 or 01 20, fax: 01 01). Our contact was Iris Madsen (e-mail

We were advised to apply for a permit at least 3 months before leaving (Biomedical expeditions 6 months, expeditions to the National Park by Dec 31st of the previous year). In order to issue the final expedition permit you will need signed radio/firearms/insurance/airdrop permits.

Greenland Police

At the beginning and end of the expedition you should contact the Greenland Command (tel: +299 691911/ 691955) to inform them that you are entering/leaving the expedition area. In the event of a distress signal being picked up by Ammassalik radio, the police are the first to be alerted.


Go now fly to Reykjavik for £120 return. Tel: 08456 054321 or Icelandair are much more expensive at about £450 return! Air Iceland is part of Icelandair so Fridrik can purchase your tickets for you. Otherwise 172 Tottenham Court Road, London. W1P 0LY. Tel: 0171 388 5599, e-mail:

Airdrops and Glacier Landings

To be allowed to make airdrops or landings in Greenland we had to obtain permission from the Civil Aviation Administration (contact: Tobo Jorgensen) PO Box 744, Ellehammervej 50, DK-2450, Copenhagen SV, Denmark. Tel: +45 36 44 48 48, Fax: 03 03.

Plane Charter. We hired a ski-equipped plane from Air Iceland, as we did in 1999 (see above for address). Plane charter is the most expensive part of the expedition. There are several ways to reduce this cost:

  1. Group size. 8 people (or multiples of) is the most economical, unless you want to try squeezing another person in (pretty tight!). The payload of a Twin Otter with skis to the Lemon Mountains is 700Kg out and 1000Kg back. The payload of a Piper Chieftain (airdrop) to the Lemon Mountains is 500Kg. This was just enough for our food equipment and ourselves. We didn’t skimp on food like 9 person expeditions.
  2. Sharing with other groups. Contact Paul Walker or Fridrik at Air Iceland. If another group flies back as you fly out you can split the cost
  3. Flying to/from the coast. There is an airstrip at the coast at Sodalen (68°13’N, 31°23’W). A Twin-Otter without skis is cheaper and has a larger payload. However it took Steve Brailey’s expedition 6 days to walk out to the coast, due to poor glacier conditions.

Landing sites. We had planned to land on the Chisel Glacier, however the pilot wanted to land on the Cocker Glacier (in July 1998 the Chisel glacier was too crevassed to land on). This year both the Sarah and Chisel glaciers looked fine for plane landings; however we had to ski to and from the Cocker glacier which took 8 hours.


Dinner Sir? How about some tuna-and-blackcurrant-jam-mash with mayonnaise-and-chocolate-powder sauce?

Aircraft for airdrops. We used a Piper Chieftain aircraft, hired from Leifur Hallgrimsson, Myflug Air, Reykajhlid Airfield, 600 Myvatn, Iceland. Tel: +354 464 4400, Fax: +354 464 4420. Another operator is Sigfus Bjarni Sigfusson at Islandsflug or Fridrik Ottesen at Air Charter Ltd, Air Island no longer has a Piper Chieftain to hire. Leifur knows Fridrik at Air Iceland, so he liased directly with him and flew from Reykajhlid to Isafjordur, to meet our sea freight the Twin Otter and us.

The Piper Chieftain is a good plane to use for an airdrop because it is much cheaper than a Twin Otter and has a rear door that can be opened for the airdrop (boxes should have a cross section of no more than 50x50cm)

Outer case packaging. We used 70x40x40 triply corrugated cardboard boxes, banded shut with a banding machine hired from HSS hire (tensioned plastic bands closed with metal crimps). We also dropped two plastic barrels for melting water in and a plywood box for cooking on.

In 1999 we dropped all our food and equipment in 50L plastic barrels, however they are not as rigid as the cardboard boxes, so we ended up with more broken food and equipment. The sides of the drum get pushed in easily, crushing the contents. Plywood boxes work as well as the cardboard boxes, however they are heavier.

Packing Order. It is important to fill each barrel with items of similar density and hardness. We dropped barrels completely full of fragile biscuits and hardly any broke. In comparison the jam exploded horribly against the tins.

Packing material. We individually wrapped every tin and packet of biscuits in bubble wrap. We triple bagged every portion of museli, custard etc. This padding and wrapping tries to contain any spillage. All the soft food for one day was packed into a thick plastic ‘day bag’. We tried 2 different sorts of bubble wrap and found that the large size (bubbles 2-3cm across) was much better. Biscuits wrapped in the large bubble wrap were completely unscathed whereas tins and fuel bottles in the small bubble wrap got quite mashed.

Watch the airdrop? It is safest if you can see the barrels land, because it could be a disaster if you cannot find your food. However if you take the risk you can have a very comfortable expedition since you can make several load dumps and ski lightweight between them for little cost.

In 1996 we left 10 days in between dropping and finding the boxes. On this expedition we could still see the craters 4 weeks after the airdrop and despite 3" of snow. Derek Fordham has made a number of airdrops.

Airdropping fuel. We packed our fuel into sigg bottles, which were bubble wrapped before putting into the box. Unfortunately 30% broke. We weren’t prepared for this since in 1996 and 1999 only 2% broke! For better results we should have used large bubble wrap (we only used thin bubble wrap), and between each layer of fuel bottles put 2 layers of triply corrugated cardboard. Most of the breakages occurred from the lids of the bottles shearing off against each other, so extra bubble wrap around the lids would be a good idea.


You will need at least an "emergency radio beacon (personal locator beacon - PLB) capable of transmission on 121.5MHz and/or 406MHz with a 121.5MHz homing device for continuous transmission using an internal power supply for at least 24hours at an ambient temperature down to -20° C."

You will need a radio permit for any sort of radio or beacon, the forms are provided by the DPC and the fee is DKK500 (Soeren Lynge, Radioadministration, Post Office 1002, DK-3900, Nuuk. Tel: +299 323120, e-mail:

We took a satellite telephone with us. They are expensive, but worth the cost:

We used it on two occasions: once when we thought we didn’t have enough fuel to last the expedition (in fact we had enough) and also at the end of the expedition to co-ordinate our collection by Twin Otter. We used the Inmarsat network and got a strong signal in the Lemon Mountains and the Lindbergh Mountains. Unfortunately the battery discharges in the cold and was dead after 1 week. We powered the radio by using our cassette recorder batteries, gaffer-taped to the phone! The microwave in the phone draws a lot of current; the batteries could only just cope after I had warmed them in my sleeping bag. Tangent Expeditions use a Solar panel to charge their phone, which apparently works fine.

After the phone battery ran out…

Sea Freight

We shipped our freight to Iceland, delivered direct to Isafjordur. We found two companies who freight to Iceland:

  1. We used Samskip, The Maltings, Silvester House, Silvester Street, Hull HU1 3HA (tel: 01482 322399, fax: 229529).
  2. The other company is Eimskip whose UK agents are MGH Ltd. Middle Platt Road, Immingham, South Humberside. DN40 1AH (tel: 01469 571880).

There are other shipping companies, however they mostly sell space on these ships plus a commission. 6-700Kg of freight will cost » £250 one way, insurance is 1% of its value.



Expeditions to the Greenland National Park (N Greenland) are required to bring firearms and polar bear deterrents. Within the National Park a firearms licence is mandatory, outside the park a licence is only needed for expeditions of over 3 months.

Licences are issued by the Chief Constable, PO Box 1006, DK-3900 Nuuk, Greenland (tel: +299 21164, fax: +299 24194). The permit costs DKK840 for semi or fully automatic weapons, otherwise it is free.

We hired a gun from Air Iceland, however it is debatable whether we needed one. Polar bears are usually found on the coast where they can find food (seals rather than humans?). Since we were not skiing to the coast there was a very low chance of seeing one. In 1996 we did not take a gun.

Descending from Ivor-y-Engine


The Danish Polar Centre issues a statement that you have to persuade an insurance company to sign. They require Search and Rescue insurance for the expedition as a whole of DKK500,000 (DKK900,000 inside the National Park) and in addition require air ambulance cover for DKK250,000 per person. The companies we approached were the following:

  1. AON Risk Services, Richmond House, College Street, Southampton, Hampshire, SO14 3PS (tel: 01703 607500, fax: 631055). They have a special expeditions insurance scheme, but only for RGS approved expeditions. They wouldn’t insure us. The cover is comprehensive and their quotes are normally quite cheap.
  2. British Mountaineering Council, 177-179 Burton Road, Manchester, M20 2BB (tel: 0161 445 4747, fax: 4500, e-mail: Unfortunately their search and rescue cover is currently £20,000 per person: this is not enough for the DPC. To get around the problem you sign an agreement with the insurers to accept liability for rescue costs over £20,000 each. Unless you are far north it is unlikely that any rescue operation would exceed this amount.
  3. Harrison Beaumont, 2 Des Roches Square, Witan Way, Witney, Oxon. OX8 6BE (tel: 01993 700200, fax: 700502) e-mail:, web: We took their policy, which covered us fully and seemed good value for money.

Maps and Aerial Photos

These can be purchased from The National Survey and Cadastre, Rentemestervej 8, DK-2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark (tel: +45 35 87 50 50, fax: 50 51, e-mail:

The main map series (Dansk Geodaetic Survey 1:250 000) was surveyed in the 1930s with little change since then, so they are pretty inaccurate. The area is covered on 68 Ø.3 Kangerdlugssuaq. Amazingly enough you can also buy them from Stanfords in London (tel: 0171 836 1321)

Aerial photographs of the area were taken in August 1981 and are good, however the lens used is quite wide angle so mountains near the edge are distorted. We used photographs 778 and 396 in the 68 Ø.3 Kangerdlugssuaq area.

We laminated our maps in A4 sheets (back to back), to stop them disintegrating.

Magnetic declination is a huge 35° W in East Greenland!

If only tea in Greenland could taste this good…

Stoves and Fuel

We took an MSR Whisperlite and two Coleman Duel Fuel stoves. We ran them off unleaded petrol bought in Iceland. Given all the hype surrounding MSR stoves they are pretty crap compared to the Coleman stove! The Coleman stove seems to have everything going for it:

  • You do not need to prime it (no sooty tents and no wasted fuel)
  • Its flame is about twice the size of any MSR and boils water much more quickly. Because it heats the 3L pans more quickly to boil we found they used less fuel than MSRs did to cook the same menu and size of group. We cooked for 8 people on 1 litre of fuel a day
  • You can turn down the flame to simmer
  • We found the Coleman Stoves more reliable than the MSRs. We only made one repair to one of the Coleman stoves this year, compared to daily cleaning of the MSRs in 1996.

Why did I buy an MSR?? The joke went something like; "MSR stoves are really nice and simple to take apart… because you need to"

We used Aviation fuel in 1996, however the stoves were constantly getting blocked. Steve Brailey’s group had the same problem in 1998. Unleaded petrol worked much better. The fuel was airdropped in Sigg bottles. Because of the fuel bottle breakages we were rationed with 1L of fuel per day for the group, but this was not enough to melt snow with. We got around this by melting snow in barrels in the sun. I would recommend 1.25-1.5L per day for 8 people.

For 8 people we needed 2 stoves, 3 3L pans (and occasionally a 2L pan) to cook our menu.


We were lucky to be given most of our food for free. We are very grateful to the following companies who supported us:



3663 (Booker Foodservice)

Free food (porridge, custard, milk, chocolate drink, dried apricots, pasta, rice…)

Van Den Bergh Foods Ltd

Free Beanfeast, Pepperami, Flora, Cup-a-Soup

Mars UK Ltd

Free Mars Bars, Snickers, Topics

Kavli Ltd

Free Primula

W Jordan (Cereals) Ltd

Free Frueslis, Crunchy Bars and Jordan’s Muesli

John West Foods Ltd

Trade Price John West Mackerel, Tuna and Kippers

The remainder of our food (mainly beer!) we bought from Cash and Carry.


  1. Kit Report

A list of equipment taken on the expedition is given in an appendix.

We are very grateful to the following companies for supporting our expedition:



Burton McCall

Free Sigg bottles and socks

Lyon Equipment

Free Julbo sunglasses

Dalloz Fall Protection

Trade Price Troll and Grivel equipment

Andy Bowman Climbing Equipment

Trade Price Mammut and Boreal equipment

Rab Carrington Ltd

Trade Price Rab clothing

Alpina UK Ltd (Glenmore Shop)

Cheap ski hire

Mac Pac (NZ)

Expedition price gear


Crookes Healthcare

Free Suncream

We were delighted with the clothing and equipment they supplied, which is reviewed below.

Camping Equipment

Tent life



We took three Terra Nova tents (2 Quasars, Quasar etc) and a North Face West Wind tent. All had snow flaps added. In 1996 we had quite serious blizzard conditions, with strong winds and enough snow to completely bury the tents. As a result we recommend the following features:

By hollowing out the snow underneath the large bell end of the quasar etc. you could actually close the inner tent before you stepped outside

The tents were not tested by the weather this year. All performed well, however we preferred the Terra Nova tents to the West Wind for their strength.

Ground Mats

Although they are expensive, Therm-a-rests are indispensable when camping on snow and ice. We have found even the thickest Karrimats feel cold and get condensation on snow. Under tents where someone has slept on a Karrimat there are pits where they have melted the snow, compared to Thermarests where you end up on a snow platform!

Sleeping Bags

There was quite a mixture of sleeping bags on the expedition: Mountain Equipment, Rab and Macpac 3 or 4 season down bags. All worked well, although often the bags were too hot! If we were sleeping during the day the temperature in the tent could reach 25-30° C.

Pippa had an old synthetic 4 season bag, which was a bit of a disaster. Synthetic bags lose their loft with age, so my 9-year-old Snowline was fine, but her 5-year-old bag was not.

Bivvy Bags

In bad weather, the inner and flysheet of the tent can be pressed together by the weight of snow. Moisture in the tent from its festering occupants condenses on the inner tent and drips onto you. For this reason we took bivvy bags (Goretex and Pertex). However we didn’t use them this year.

Bivvy bags are useful on short ski tours instead of taking a tent. We used them on our ascent of Bidvest peak, with very memorable views over an ice-choked Kangerdlugssuaq.

Jim on water ice near top of Steeple

Mess Tent

Made by Steve Fisher and designed to be large but lightweight: it has no poles. We dug a 2m deep pit, which was 1.5m wide by 3m long. Snow bench seats ran along the hole and there was a sloping entrance at one end. The tent was just a roof with lightweight ripstop nylon walls (1.5m high) held up by 50cm snowflaps and 12 guy ropes.

We stuffed shopping bags with the foam packing to make warm seats.

This formed a very friendly (!) communal room which got hot from the sun and from the stoves. It kept the chefs warm when they were cooking and was a shelter in bad weather. I don’t understand why these tents aren’t more widely used.

Snow remover. The disadvantage of a flat topped tent is that in bad weather, snow builds up on the roof, which eventually makes the tent collapse. It is very difficult to dig the snow off the roof without falling in! To overcome this we took another nylon sheet the size of the roof, with handles at either end, which we placed over the tent. When the roof had 6" of snow on, you simply lifted off and replaced the sheet.

Skiing on Sarah Glacier, below Bidvest Peak

Pulking and skiing equipment

Each expedition member had a sledge, rather than taking rucksacks for load carrying. We took 4 Snowsled sledges, 2 Fjellpulken and 2 other fibreglass pulks hired from Air Iceland.

The sledges doubled as wardrobes and drying racks at camp, by propping up the traces with your ski poles.

Hiring Sledges. Sledges are not cheap, so we looked long and hard for places to hire them. You need to ask early as the sledges may be stored in another country and groups tend to hire them well in advance.
1. Arcturus Expeditions hired us Fjellpulken sledges at £40 each. Conveniently for us they were kept with Air Iceland in Akureyri. Catherine Cartwright, PO Box 850, Gartocharn, Alexandria, Dumbartonshire, G83 8RL (tel: 01389 830 204)
2. Fridrik at Air Iceland has several sledges to hire from Akureyri
3. British Schools Exploring Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR (tel: 0171 591 3000)
4. Snowsled. Sometimes they have sleds for hire.

Ortilieb bags. These rubberised rucksack liners made perfect sledge bags. The sledges got wet inside during bad weather and these bags kept our spare clothes dry. The bags have a special closure system and are made from heavy-duty material that makes them completely waterproof, even if immersed in water. Several people had a 100L bag (£20).


Skis, Skins and boots

4 expedition members used Asnes Sondre Telemark Skis with Rotterfeller 3-pin bindings, the other 5 used similar metal edged telemark skis hired from the Free Heel Ski Co at Glenmore (01479 861253) with a Salomon SNS cross-country binding. Generally they worked fine, however we had a few problems:

Rupert’s skis had fishscales which allowed him to ski up moderate inclines. Because he didn’t have to stop to put on skins or wax, he moved faster on the way to the climb.

Our 35mm Pomoca skins were perfect for the job. However we needed more skins glue! Two or three large tubes would have been the right amount for 6 weeks.

We used the Royal Marines wax system: wet and dry! This is simple to use and cheap (available from most Army Surplus stores)

Climbing Equipment

We didn’t want to be restricted to certain routes because we were short on gear, so we took fairly large racks:



per pair

Number - whole group

50m ropes 9mm



50m ropes 10mm



Wires assorted 1-10

1 set


Assorted Friends/Hexes





Slings 8ft



Slings 4ft



Pegs assorted



Ice Screws (screw-in/drive-in)






Ab tat



Members also each brought an Alpine Harness, 2 screwgates, belay device, long and short prussik, 2 climbing axes, crampons, rock boots, chalk bag and helmet

Since we found ice routes up to V, Vertige axes are a good idea for this area. Most people took Grivel 2F crampons, which were fine, except for the usual balling up problems. 350m of abseil tat would have been enough (we used 300m).


Personal Kit


Because different people have their favourite clothing system, everyone took what they were used to. Clothes suitable for Scotland or the Alps are fine for Greenland, if anything it is warmer than you expect! A full personal kit list is given in an Appendix.


Because we didn’t need rucksacks for load carrying most people used 50L Alpine sacks. It was nice not to have to carry the extra weight of a large sack.


Lyon equipment kindly donated us 8 pairs of Julbo Spectron X8 glacier glasses, which we used on the expedition for skiing and climbing. We were very pleased with the glasses: they were comfortable to wear (e.g. Tom opposite on Haystooks), the lens colour was neutral and pleasing to look through, and they were well ventilated for skiing. Their only problem was that the side flaps had flimsy attachments that broke on 4 pairs.


  1. Weather Log

East Greenland generally has fine stable summer weather. In 1996 we had 16 days of tent-bound weather during 8 weeks: this included several rather nasty blizzards. In 1999 we had 8 tent bound days out of 4 weeks. This year we had good weather with only 6 days tent bound in 5.5 weeks

According to folklore, the early summer in Greenland is more stable than the late summer. Several successful expeditions have visited the area from mid-May. We were advised that generally the latest time to visit the area is mid-August, after which the weather begins to deteriorate. However our expedition just north of Ammassalik in 1996 lasted until the end of August; we had our best weather then.

Note: the weather was recorded when we were climbing, which sometimes was at night. See Appendix 1 for details







Jun 18


Ski to base camp 1

Jul 7



Jun 19


Set up base camp 1

Jul 8


Bell N face, Ivory Pimple

Jun 20


Solstice peak

Jul 9


Bidvest, Castle SE turret

Jun 21


French’s peak, Citadel

Jul 10

Good – cloud

Scalpel attempt, Muezzin

Jun 22



Jul 11

Cloud – snow


Jun 23


Bell N + S, Chisel Buttress

Jul 12

Cloud/fog – good

Rest, Tent bound

Jun 24

Low cloud, some snow

Sheridan Dark, Spire

Jul 13

Cloud, fog

Watchtower attempt, Castle NE turret

Jun 25

Good – light cloud


Jul 14


Castle N, Castle S

Jun 26


Congregation, Icon Peak

Jul 15


Ski to Base Camp 1

Jun 27


Pulpit (both routes)

Jul 16

Good – cloud, fog

Ski to Lindberghs

Jun 28

Cloud – low cloud

Tent bound

Jul 17

Cloud – snow


Jun 29

Rain – snow – rain

Tent bound

Jul 18

Wind – part cloud


Jun 30

Rain – good

Tent bound

Jul 19



Jul 1

Good, high cloud

Haystooks (all routes)

Jul 20



Jul 2

Broken cloud – good

Chalfoun, Chisel 2 attempt

Jul 21


RJ’s peak, Galleon

Jul 3



Jul 22


Cameron peak

Jul 4

Good, wind

Ski to base camp 2

Jul 23


Tent bound (Scheduled pickup)

Jul 5

Good, wind

Ivor-y-Engine, Vestry

Jul 24


Tent bound

Jul 6

Good, wind

Steeple, Frankincense

Jul 25

Cloud - good


At the end of the expedition the weather closed in two hours before our scheduled collection, so it was good to have a satellite telephone to confirm the Twin Otter was not coming! We were then snowed in for 2 days…

The weather was quite warm during the expedition, which gave poor north face snow conditions. Generally snow conditions were stable (even if soft), with few avalanches; however warm weather on Jul 1,2 caused numerous North face avalanches during the ‘night’.