Eqi and the Ice Sheet
Since the 19th Century, the Eqi Glacier and Ice Sheet have been the subject of numerous scientific studies. It is a drawcard for polar scientists of various disciplines from around the world. Among the most famous is the French polar explorer, Paul-Émile Victor. He had an expedition base for ice sheet exploration from the Eqi Glacier, which is located approx. 80 km north of Ilulissat in the north-eastern part of Disko Bay.
At that time, Eqi was the best place to access the Ice Sheet with heavy handling equipment, as there were good entry conditions and a short distance to the Ice Sheet.
Glacier Lodge Eqi
On a mountain side just opposite the glacier, you’ll today find Glacier Lodge Eqi, surrounded by insanely beautiful and desolate nature. This luxury wilderness lodge was built in 2001 as a sustainable project. It has evolved yearly with the intention of saving CO2 and with great concern for the environment.
The popular lodge currently consists of 16 cabins, 5 large wilderness tents and a café, which is well known for tasty food. All cabins and tents in Glacier Lodge Eqi have a private terrace, and a magnificent view of the calving glacier front, which is one of the most active in Greenland. Throughout the day visitors and guests will hear the silence being broken by cracks and bangs, as tons of ice break free from the glacier, sending cascades ice into the water. Thus, begins the journey of icebergs out into the Atlantic.
A Base of Polar Expeditions
The lodge is located on the site where Paul-Émile Victor led his expeditions in the years 1948-1953. The harbour, ‘Port Victor’ and Café Victor are named after him, as a tribute to the research and Ice Sheet exploration he conducted here after World War II.
Halfway up the mountain stands an isolated hut known as ‘The French Cottage’. Victor used this cabin as a base for his many expeditions on the Ice Sheet. The cabin is long since abandoned, but stepping inside reveals old yellowed pieces of paper with handwritten notes, attached to the walls. It gives some sense of how the researchers at the time lived while conducting their expeditions.
Polar Researcher Paul-Emile Victor
Paul-Émile Victor was a French ethnologist, polar researcher and explorer. He was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1907 and completed his education at the École Centrale de Lyon in 1928.
From 1948-1953 he oversaw the many polar expeditions conducted by the organisation Expéditions Polaires Françaises. He was head of this organisation until 1976 and led more than 3,000 people on scientific expeditions to both poles.
In 1976 he retired, and the following year he moved with his wife to the French Pacific island of Bora-Bora, where he died in 1995.
Polar Expeditions to the Inland Ice
In the period 1948-1953, Paul-Émile Victor made a series of polar expeditions on the Ice Sheet, with the aim of making observations about whether and to what extent, the Ice Sheet moved. By placing radio probes in the ice, any movement could be detected. In addition, the expedition was to obtain profiles of the ice sheet surface, measure temperatures, density and stratification in the deeper layers of the ice. The expedition had several other glaciological and geological purposes.
After a series of reconnaissance’s in 1948, Victor managed to find a way up to the Ice Sheet for his eight tracked vehicles from Eqi. It was his intention the following year to place the scientific Station Centrale in the same position (71N / 40W) as used by the German scientist Alfred Wegener for his 1930 station Eismitte. Manned by eight men for a two-year duration, it required 110 tons of goods, of which 40 were to be transported by land, while the remaining 70 were to be dropped off from chartered Icelandic DC-3 aircraft.
In the Footsteps of Paul-Émile Victor
Today, Eqi is one of the biggest attractions highlights in Greenland and the popular and unique Glacier Lodge Eqi in particular attracts visitors wishing to experience the unique Greenlandic wilderness.
From the lodge, a series of tours can be arranged. Hikes are offered to the moraine edge, the lake behind the camp and to the Inland Ice itself, where its even possible to spend a night on the ice.
From the Eqip Sermia Glacier, it takes only four hours to hike onto the ice sheet. Most of the way you can follow the route which Paul-Émile Victor's tracked vehicles left behind half a century ago in the mountains, and which can still be clearly seen. Reminiscences from these expeditions, such as transport sleds, hoists and tracked vehicles, have left eternal traces in the delicate landscape, which clearly shows that Arctic nature cannot easily restore itself.