Outdoor Focus Winter 2017 - Page 17

Amidst the icebergs In my search for the sublime icescapes of the Scandinavian Arctic my expeditions vary, sometimes on a dog-sledge, sometimes on foot or cleaving through wild Arctic seas in a fifty-foot boat, or on one occasion taking a Zodiac up a 50-mile remote fjord, to find it was holed in the bottom. Encounters with walrus, musk ox, polar bears and other wildlife provided stunning insights into animal behaviour and many on-the-spot sketches. The walrus, with its battered and heavily-textured hide is a most accommodating model, despite the accompanying cacophony of rude noises. Abseiling into crevasses to sketch ice bridges, camping on the Greenland ice-cap and exploring ice canyons all inspired the paintbrush. At times the dog- sledging route was so steep that the sledges ran out of control down the mountainside, flattening a husky like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Hiking was not without its dangers: at the edge of the Scoresbysund polynya the snow suddenly gave way and I thought I was about to plunge straight through into the icy sea, heavily laden with rucsack, sketchbooks and rifle, but luckily the gods smiled on me that day and I escaped. Not all the trips produced constant hair-raising moments though, and many were downright hilarious, such as when my Danish colleague and I were invited for tea by an Inuit photographer. In anticipation of some fresh scones we found that afternoon tea Greenland style involves a cup of tea accompanied by a raw turnip. This, however, is a great privilege as vegetables are rather scarce in Greenland. Each of the expeditions was quite different in character from the others, and gave me some of the most treasured moments of my life. Read Roly Smith’s review of Arctic Light on page 6 Highly Commended Andrew McCloy for The Pennine Way winter 2017 | Outdoor focus 17