American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, Schweizerland, Nalumasortoq, New Route

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Nalumasortoq, New Route. It was reported that a Swiss party was believed to have climbed a direct route on the right-hand pillar of Nalumasortoq, cutting through the left-facing diagonal comer system attempted in 1996 by a British team and completed by a (possibly Swiss) team in 1997. The pillar lies immediately left of the 1975 original route on the south face. The same Swiss team is also believed to have climbed a shorter route near the pillars ascended by Penning et al (see below) at British HVS El. Further details are lacking. (High Mountain Sports 195) Ulamertorssuaq, War and Poetry. Our team (Jeff Bechtel, Steve Bechtel, Mike Lilygren, Peter Mallamo, Bobby Model, Paul Piana, and Todd Skinner) left Lander, Wyoming, on July 1, driving two days to Ottawa, Canada, in a Suburban loaded with hundreds of pounds of food, gear, and climbers. We flew from Ottawa to Nuuk, Greenland, and eventually to the small village of Nanortalik. From here, we hired the boat Nanortalik Colo to deliver us up the Tasermiut Fjord to our objective.

After being dropped off at the shore, the team shuttled loads for several days to our Base Camp on the grassy bench below the wall. We began with the objective of free climbing the route Moby Dick, but quickly abandoned it in favor of a more aesthetic line to its right.

Mike and I took turns leading for the majority of the first part of the wall. The route followed incipient cracks and flakes with long stretches of sustained slab climbing in between. At about the 1800-meter level, we established a bivouac at “The Dark Heart,” a long and narrow ledge.

The route’s crux pitches, both midrange 5.12, led from the ledge into a gigantic right-facing comer. We followed the comer for several more pitches to a sloping ledge and second bivouac. Higher, with Paul and Todd in the lead, we traversed right out of the ever-widening comer to find the single most spectacular crack any of us had ever seen. “The Bowstring Crack” consisted of 300 feet of hand and finger jams leading to a small alcove. Above, the cracks eased up in difficulty. The last five pitches followed straight-in cracks to the summit.

Our team fixed anchors on the route, War and Poetry (VI 5.12c), allowing for safe and quick descent for all parties climbing on the tower. Additionally, we removed hundreds of feet of old static line from the wall and gave it to the boatmen in Nanortalik.

In all, the climb took just over five weeks. Much of the time was spent waiting out rain storms and hauling our mass of equipment around Greenland. We are quite pleased with the route, with all members of the team agreeing that this was one of the very best routes any of us has ever done.

Steve Bechtel, unaffiliated

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