Words & photography by Daniel Wildey
I’m standing on an unnamed peak in East Greenland looking down a 40-plus degree slope which has never been skied, when I realise the worst thing about skiing. So often I stare down an icy piste at the human flotsam and jetsam variously stumbling, careering and floundering, and wonder how I will safely navigate these uncontrollable dangers. Today, I couldn’t be further from that proposition.
The dangers in the fjords and mountains surrounding the island of Kulusuk are manifest and grave, the sheer remoteness, the absence of mountain rescue, the presence of polar bears and shifting sea ice, but somehow they seem less malevolent than a 45-year-old, 18-stone city worker on his annual binge of drunken, snowploughing-recklessness.
“In four long days roaming the mountains we haven’t seen another soul, save for the odd hunter ghosting past on a dogsled…”
We’re a group of eight seeking ski-solitude. And in four long days roaming the mountains we haven’t seen another soul, save for the odd hunter ghosting past on a dogsled and offering barely a salutatory nod. The horizon profiles both the featureless expanse of the sea and the endless untouched peaks stretching along the coastline and inland to the ice cap. It’s a playground that we couldn’t hope to fully know if we lived for 1000 years. Indeed Matt Spenceley, founder and guide at Pirhuk, has spent 16 years trying to scratch the surface of what these mountains can offer.