Media Blog 74 Degrees North (part two) Written by Myrtle Simpson, mountain climber, RSGS Mungo Park Medallist The story continues from part one... We are up to a crisp, clear Arctic morning. The Inland Ice is visible from the top of the island; a heart-stopping vista, white across the horizon to where it meshes grey into the sky, beckoning us on. Huge bergs sail past as we paddle against the tide. The crump as of distant cannon grows louder as we shorten the distance between us and the ice edge. High tops on our right have new snow. Ahead is a world of ice. Dead calm. Ethereal. The surface is littered with bergy bits, to be avoided with our thin-skinned canoes. The Titanic is uppermost in my mind. Hours pass and we reach a shore. A secret inner bay with a sandy beach is the magic, perfect camp site. We pitch on a col, high above the water in case of a surge. We look straight into the face of the Inland Ice. Moss campion abounds. As we travel north we have caught up with the spring flowers. We look down into the depths of a clear sea. Mirror calm. Mushrooms and boletus for supper. In spite of the midnight sun, we feel a cold night ahead. Our bay is frozen. We launch into pan-ice, just breakable with a whack from the paddle. We reluctantly agree to press on across the face of the three-mile-wide glacier. The outgoing tide sweeps the ice around us as we search for a route through. There are hooked cirrus wisps in the blue sky. Wind? An hour later, it hits us, but the waters stay calm. The big bergs, though, answer to the gathering gale and approach fast. The tide turns and the ice piles in. Less room for us. Bulky birds gather round us — eider duck, 20 or 30 — then fly off, battering their wings to raise their heavy bodies out of the brashy ice. An ice wall is now to our right. The Inland Ice meeting the sea. There is constant activity as it creeps inexorably forward. "I'm hungry," wails Adair, unhassled by any danger. We press on and the far cliffs draw near. Ice pans pile up against the rocks. We push through, searching for open water. None. We chicane to and fro and gradually make the distance. Our worry is of the ice joining up into a solid pan. Too thin to walk on, too thick to break. The open water runs out. We try to batter a floe with the paddle. No luck, but the Feathercraft canoe rides it till it breaks and we win through. We make the final headland, and land. Shangri-la. We clamber up to soft tundra behind the terminal moraine. An amphitheatre view to the ice front, a scree-slope garden about us. "I love it when things go wrong," says Fraser. "It's so much more exciting." We leave with the tide on the turn. Round the corner and we push into the ice. We flee from one section of open water in the lee of a berg to another — cold, bleak and it begins to rain. The floes are joining up and the brash-ice is nearly solid. This is unprecedented. So much ice on the move. The ice front is disintegrating with the warmth. Is this global warming? Will the Greenlanders go the way of the Vikings if this weather persists? Round a bend, and suddenly all is peace. No falls of ice to be heard. The water is clear, calm. The sun glinting on benign bergs with plenty of space between. We work our way down the fjord, on and on, then camp where a river runs into the sea. Days of idyllic paddling pass. A feeling that no one has been here before. Merging colours of russets and browns remind us that time is passing. It is time to go home when the zip-lock bags refuse to fasten. We have reached our farthermost north: 74 degrees. We have a date to meet the Greenlanders at a map reference 30 miles to the south. We are on our way to the rendezvous when the storm strikes. Lashing rain, a full blast of the gale against us as we creep out into the main fjord. All strength is needed to paddle, to push one arm above one's head. A five-mile crossing ahead, but we spy a little bay, protected by ice. The perfect camp site. Two broken houses and several Inuit rings. Did people really live here? Have babies? They certainly died, as the graves portray. We clamber up slabs to a vista out to sea, then camp among the walls of a turf house. Two days later the trip is over. Back in the plane the maps come out. Not to see where we have been, but to see where to go next year.