Nottingham and the glacier – an adventure 50 years in the making
A land of icy lakes, sweeping fjords, snowy mountains and reindeer – the sweeping Scandinavian beauty of Norway is our setting for a tale of adventure across the generations.
Thanks to funding from Cascade - our student project fund supported by alumni - current members of the University’s Mountaineering Club are preparing to embark on a bold expedition to the Tunsbergdalsbreen glacier in southern Norway – following in the footsteps of former Nottingham students who first explored the site over 50 years ago.
Adventure has always been in the Nottingham DNA
Between 1957 and 1959, the Students’ Union Exploration Society sent three summer expeditions to survey Tunsbergdalsbreen, the longest outlet glacier on the Jostedalsbreen ice cap. These Nottingham surveys were some of the first of the glacier, paving the way for future adventurers.
In 1959, the students left their stores and equipment at the Nottingham base camp near the top of the glacier, expecting to go back the next year. However, funding was stopped and the students never got to return – the tale was left unfinished.
It all began with a challenge…
Current Nottingham Mountaineering Club President Ben Prestwich said: “Last year, John Price – one of the original expedition members in the 1950s – got in touch with me to give us a challenge with a 55 year back story. He wanted us to return and finish what they started.”
“Since the original expedition the area has become part of a national park needing to be restored to pristine wilderness. Last year, a small group of us went out to find the remains of the camp, where we discovered so many interesting items – from rusted crampons and pickaxes to old bottles of HP sauce!”
“We’re honoured to be accompanied by the original explorers”
This summer, our students are not travelling back to the glacier alone. Two of the original expedition members, John Price and Derek Daniels, are also heading to base camp.
“John and Derek have previously attempted to reach the base camp, but as they’re now in their 70s, they couldn’t achieve it in the timescale they had set themselves” said Ben. “We’re going to assist them to trek up to the base camp – it’s an honour for us to help them see the base camp for the first time in 56 years. It’s amazing to hear John and Derek’s memories and see how things have changed – the modern equipment is certainly lighter to carry! We’re learning so much from them about how they lived at the base camp in the 1950s and carried out the original surveys.”
The recovered items will form part of an exhibition
“We’re taking a larger team of 12 to hike to the base camp and bag up the remains for a helicopter to collect. We hope that our project and any artefacts we find will be added to the Norwegian Glacier Museums exhibition on the original surveys.”
“The scenery is breath-taking and we’re eager for the challenge, but taking part in an expedition with such an important objective and long history is what we’re looking forward to most.”
Alumni donations made this project possible after 50 years
Thank you to all alumni who support our Cascade fund. Your generosity means that current students and alumni now have the chance to finish an adventure started half a century ago.
We’ll let you know how this exciting expedition goes. Visit our Impact website to find out more about Cascade
Photos courtesy of Peter Bayliss, Nottingham Mountaineering Club member
Posted on Tuesday 23rd June 2015