American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, Northeast, Louise Boyd Land, Various Activity

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Louise Boyd Land, Various Activity. Team Members Helen Bostock, Andrew Bostock, Matt Tinsley, Dave Mills and Neal Hockley were in the field (centered on 73°30' N, 28°00' W) from July 2-August 26. The majority of the climbing was done during July, with no major climbing taking place after August 8. The weather was generally stable due to large arctic high pressures sitting over the region. Occasional snow was received but never for more than two days in a row. The wind was rarely noticeable and never really strong. Twenty-four-hour daylight was enjoyed throughout the trip.

In total, 15 first ascents were made on formations over 2000 meters high, three granite rock spires and a granite wall were discovered and climbed and two new routes were put up on the previously unclimbed northwest face of Petermann Bjerg.

First, we ascended all the significant peaks in close proximity to our Base Camp. These were mainly ski ascents with little technical difficulty. It was usually possible to ascend the majority of the mountain on skis, just removing them for the final narrow summit ridge. The rock in the area around BC was very broken and not suitable for climbing. The routes we took up all these mountains were the obvious ridges. All these routes were PD or below.

We then journeyed north and managed to gain entry to a very secluded high glacier. This contained a chain of nice triangular peaks and some excellent granite rock climbing. This appeared to be the only area in Louise Boyd Land with rock suitable for climbing and, although we were only here for four days, we managed to get some interesting mixed climbing in. We climbed all the mountains surrounding this glacier. Three of the most southerly ones formed an easy horseshoe of grade PD-. In this valley there were also three granite teeth that would provide some excellent rock climbing and some interesting couloirs. We ascended all these via the most accessible routes, which we graded PD+ but which involved some mixed climbing, generally following ridgelines. The final mountain in this valley is the largest and has the most scope for technical mixed climbing. The group took a line up the center of a rock band separating the lower snowfields from the summit snowfield. This initially involved an ice gully that led into a rock corner which, after a tricky lead, led onto more broken ground. A large gully was then followed onto the summit snowfield. This route was graded at PD+ III.

The final part of our mountaineering program was undertaken on the ski south for pickup. It included the two most noteworthy of our first ascents at the southern boundary of Louise Boyd Land. These two mountains were the highest in the region by some way and provided some interesting ice routes, though the rock was again rather poor. We ascended the first directly up the south face via two gullies (they were numerous to choose from). One gully was straightforward, but the other narrowed in the middle to give some vertical ice for about ten meters. Once overcome, it was just steep snow to the summit. From this top, we descended the ridge southeast to the col and carried on to the summit of the second. The ridge is broken but relatively easy.

As well as first ascents, we put up two new routes (the 6th and 7th ascents) on the unclimbed northwest face of Petermann Bjerg, the highest mountain in the High Arctic. These routes were both ice routes up the 1000-meter face. The climbing was not particularly difficult, but the size of the face made the routes seem more daunting. One party went directly up the northwest face via the main gully (60°+ ice) in four hours, and the second party went up the ridge separating the northwest face from the northeast face, initially reaching the ridge via a 55-degree ice couloir. The ascent took four and a half hours.

All the climbing was carried out during the night when it was colder and the snow was in better condition.

Andrew Bostock, United Kingdom

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