I sit down and lean back against a rock, letting the bright sun warm my cold face. I close my eyes and soak up the silence that is broken only by the crackling of ice, a sign of life from the ice-choked fjord in front of me. In the otherwise tranquil setting, the sound is both soothing and thunderous.
I picture myself as a tiny dot on a map of Ingmikortilaq, the name of the small piece of land I’m currently on with the meaning “looks like an island”. I then visualise the map unfolding to reveal the rest of Greenland, the dot indicating my location shrinking. I continue to unfold my imaginary map, bringing in the Arctic Region, Europe and North America, the Northern Hemisphere and the rest of the world.
I feel humbled into insignificance.
It’s both a disturbing and comforting thought, because although I feel insignificant, I also feel connected: connected to my surroundings and connected within myself. It’s a feeling that resurfaces whenever I find myself in vast and remote landscapes, especially in polar regions and areas of spectacular natural beauty, like the location I am currently.
Our journey through Scorseby Sund continued into Nordvestfjord overnight, with the size and volume of icebergs dramatically increasing. Our destination was never guaranteed and I started the morning out on deck, feeling doubtful as I looked ahead at icebergs covering the fjord like an impenetrable fort.
Every time we edged closer however, corridors of water would appear seemingly from nowhere, inviting us to continue our navigation through the ice-choked maze. It was an invitation our Captain accepted with determination and his skill – and an element of luck – delivered us to where I am now
I am sitting at the end of Nordvestfjord, looking out at the birthplace of the icebergs we passed to get here, each one originating from powerful Daugaard-Jensen Glacier or it’s smaller neighbour Graae Glacier. The scene in front of me is a dramatic intersection of rock, ice and water that is so vast that it creates the illusion that the elements in my frame – mountains at the water’s edge, glacier tongues descending into the fjord, icebergs competing for space on the water – are significantly smaller than they really are.
The hike that has led me to this viewpoint on Ingmikortliaq rewards me with one of the most dramatic ‘wow moments’ of my time in East Greenland.
I raise my camera in a fruitless attempt to capture the scene in front of me.
A photograph has the ability to immortalise an event, freeze a memory or capture the essence of a location, character or culture. It can ignite someone’s imagination, transporting him or her to a moment, place or experience. It can evoke a reaction, feeling or emotion and it has the power to tell stories.
But there are some locations in the world that render a photograph powerless, a location it cannot due justice and a moment it simply cannot capture.
And this is one of them.