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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Aerial scouring, Bear Islands, Scoresby Sund

Another wonderful photo found on the web.  Fifty years ago, when I led the OU East Greenland Expedition with my friend David Sugden, we spent some of our time at Syd Kap, on the shore of inner Scoresby Sund, looking across at the Bear Islands.  This is a much closer view, similar to the one we had when we chugged back to Scoresbysund settlement in a little boat called Entalik.  This is classic aerial scouring terrain, with the rock surface moulded and smoothed by huge volumes of glacier ice coming out of various fjords into the head of a wider bay.  In the background there is an incredible rock pinnacle on the tip of a long spur between two fjords that held outlet glaciers from the Greenland Ice Sheet.


Myris of Alexandria said...

I have just finished a biography of Sir John Franklin (of Pentangle Fame)and Sam Roger's most most most wonderful song Northwest Passage. (Go Benson go).
That was a full life, Trafalgar, governor of Tazzy, and every few years walking with Esquimeax and eating his shoes.
He was 58 when he went off on his last doomed voyage.
The Bear Islands are mentioned. I had not realised but at about 72 North there is a short NW passage.Where is the one that now opens due to GW?.
I thought they took the scenic route hugging the coastline of mainland Canada/Alaska.

BRIAN JOHN said...

These must be other Bear Islands. maybe there are a lot of them about..... this photo was taken a long way from the NW Passage -- right in the interior of Scoresby Sund. In Danish they are called Bjorneoer -- never set foot on them myself (more's the pity) but in 1962 we passed close by by boat. Worth a whole glacial geomorphology text book to themselves...

BRIAN JOHN said...

My understanding is that there are several NW Passges -- this is after all a complex archipelago, and there are many ways through it. For small ships, there are many ways through, but for tankers and the like, it's a different matter. Many ships have gone aground trying to get through channels that are too shallow.

On my desk I have a first edition of Kane's Arctic Explorations -- he was one of the many who went to hunt for Franklin and his men.

Tony Hinchliffe said...

As Myris has already commented on the music of Pentangle, may I just add that songwriter-musician James Taylor wrote what I consider a magnificent narrative piece about 'The Frozen Man'.

James said it was based upon an idea he had after reading an article he'd read in "National Geographic".

'The article was about a sailor found buried in the permafrost, a British expeditioner who died while trying to find a northern passage above the Arctic Circle', he said.

Taylor's biographer Timothy White says 'the lyric is constructed as a first-person account of a human archaeological find from the subject's own startled standpoint, the miraculously revived sailor remembering a tempest "reaching up to swallow me whole", the icy shock of being tossed overboard stopping his heart in mid-beat. After being encased in polar ice for a century, The Frozen Man is awakened in hospital..... The song is a sad tale of a displaced life - but also an allegory for fame, success, and the right choices made for the wrong reasons.
"The Frozen Man" eclipsed even [Taylor's award-winning] "Fire and Rain" its tender, piteous consideration of human powerless, and..(the) production was impeccable in its lovely austerity.'

Sorry if I am deemed to have gone off-topic, but music about, as well as images of, the earth has its beauty and resonance.

Tony H said...

For the musical folk afficianados amongst our Happy Few, I would recommend unreservedly "Frozen Man", recorded by James Taylor, since it tells the tale of a 19th Century sailor lost at sea somewhere in Arctic Canada. Superb lyrics, deep meaning, tremendous arrangement. Play it on St Crispin's Day, brothers. Inspired bt a National Geographic article.