Visiting an abandoned mine in a Land Rover – Greenland 1970

Up at 8. Sunny and warm. After breakfast I photograph dogs and pups. Find a polar bear skull among remains of bones by one dog! Then Tove Birkelund, Ulla Asgaard and I walk up onto the hill, via thick snow, studying flowers which I photograph. We find lemming bones. I walk quietly up to a Long-tailed Skua which lets me get to 3 metres of it before flying. Two love-making ravens, offering each other tiny stones in their giant beaks, just shout at me when I approach to 6 metres.

A Husky guards its trophy, a polar bear skull – Greenland 1970
To courting ravens at Mestersvig – Greenland 1970
Dogs and puppies in Mestersvig, Greenland – 1970

Tove and Ulla discover a goose sitting on her nest, a Pink-footed Goose (Kortnæbbet Gås). (Ulla is keeping a list of plants seen).

We return just in time for lunch, another Cold Table. We hear that a plane is visiting us this evening, and will pick up post, so the afternoon is spent writing to Ravenscroft and Texas. After supper we all buy stamps and stick them on envelopes. Then Ulla and I play with the telephoto lens, but it clouds over and has become much colder, with a slight breeze.

Pack our camp equipment. Read and then coffee at 9. After this, the head man at the camp drives us all up to the mine in the red Land Rover. This is an unexpectedly exciting experience. First we drive ?North-West along the landing strip and at the end take a fairly good road up into the higher ground. Rising slowly, we make a stop where geese nested last year, but there are none here this year. Pairs fly about in various directions. Then a little further to see a magnificent gorge with vertical cliffs in Carboniferous sediments, and two thundering waterfalls. We are now at the cloud base, however and lighting conditions are hardly good enough for effective photography.

The Mestersvig bases Land Rover on a crude gravel road, Greenland 1970

The road deteriorates after this and in places become a river bed with melt-water flowing everywhere.
It is remarkable how effortlessly we manage the non-existent road with 9 people on board! And so up to the mine, opened in 1952 and closed in 1963. Now very desolate, with the large ghost-town below in the saturating cloud. We drive up above and look down into the foggy hole.

Exploring the abandoned Mestersvig Lead & Zinc mine – Greenland 1970
The abandoned Mestersvig Lead & Zinc mine – Greenland 1970
The tunnels at “Blyklippen” (The lead rock), an abandoned mine at Mestersvig, is full of equipment – Greenland 1970
The tunnels at “Blyklippen” (The lead rock), an abandoned mine at Mestersvig – Greenland 1970
The abandoned mining village, with trash from the Mestersvig lead and zink mine – Greenland 1970

The underground tunnels rapidly filled with pure ice after abandonment. We pick up pieces of lead-ore with various minerals in.

Examining the minerals at the abandoned lead and zinc mine “Blyklippen” (The lead rock) at Mestersvig – Greenland 1970

On the way home we stop for the others to a glimpse of an earth-dam built to curb melt-water, but we stay near the car to identify a small bird which chases a long-tailed skua. We can get quite close and find it to be most striking – black and white patterned face, red-brown, black and white wings, white beneath – a turnstone.

We take the Mestersvig bases Land Rover up into the mountains to se an old abandoned lead mine – Greenland, 1970

Back at 1 am and bed.

Mestersvig lead mine
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Geologist, Ichnologist, Author and Member of The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.

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