The Pirhuk Team / Lars Bianco

Lars Bianco lives together with his family in Kulusuk, in a house overlooking Ammassalik Fjord.  He’s a supremely effective boatman and dogsled driver with a deep knowledge of the Tunu region, both locally and extending to Sermilik in the south and Sermiligaq to the north.  Designated a professional hunter by the local kommune (community council), that means he derives his income from the fjords, whether fishing or subsistence hunting.  Lars obviously loves being out on the sea ice through the cold months, or deep in the fjords on his boat in summer.  He’s always a pleasure to be with and even a few hours out from the village gives a strong sense of how capable he is.

Back in 2008, Ammassalik Fjord froze sufficiently thickly to make the prospect of dog sledding between Kulusuk and Tasiilaq a possibility, an extremely rare occurrence in the last 15 years.  In preparation for the upcoming ice cap expedition season, we had a large quantity of sledges, skis, food and all the other equipment that goes into a successful crossing to take over to Tasiilaq.  Given the possibility, Matt, Georg and Lars decided to attempt the dog sled journey, setting out with heavily laden sleds over a fjord more normally sailed.  Using a harpoon, Lars probed down through a thick layer of snow only to break through the ice with a couple of sharp hits.  Not a good sign, either for the coming day, or least of all the return journey.  Pushing on and over the fjord, the cold temperatures of the previous weeks ensured the snow hadn’t hardened, making the crossing of a glacial pass on Tasiilaq Island an exhausting trial, both for the dogs and drivers.  It was a tired team that approached the lights of Tasiilaq that night.  An early departure the next morning, this time with light sleds.  The glacier went more easily and it wasn’t long before the team reached the ice of the fjord, this time heaving and sighing on the ocean swell – a sure sign that the fjord could imminently clear of ice.  Back in the village that evening, the 2 previous days could only highlight the skill and quiet determination of two men immensely skilled in the environment they had grown up in and continue to spend most days.

Such trips as described above offer an insight into the day-today life of Lars.  It’s this level of skill and experience that adds much to Pirhuk’s trips.