American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, Schweizerland, Various Activity

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

Schweizerland, Various Activity. From July 22-August 22, Britons A1 Powell, Kenton Cool, Pete and Andy Benson, Andy MacNae and Richard Spillet achieved ten free climbs and much sun bathing on south-facing walls at the head of the 16th September Glacier in the Schweizerland Mountains of east Greenland. Eight of the climbs were first ascents. On July 23, Powell and Cool arrived in Kulusuk, traveled by boat to the Knud Rassmussen Glacier and skied to Base Camp (66° 16' N, 36° 26' W) below Tupilak over three days. The rest of the team arrived by helicopter on the 28th. The following routes were then climbed during a three-week period of stable weather (all are first ascents unless otherwise noted).

Powell and Cool climbed Rodebjerg (2140m, 66° 21' N, 36° 25' W) via the South Pillar (D+, 1100m) for the route’s second ascent on July 30. It was a stunning line, and an easy descent was made down the glacier below the west face. On August 3, Powell and Cool climbed the south face of the west summit of Tupilak (2264m, 66° 19' N, 36° 32' W). It was a tricky approach: the left-hand icefall is very dangerous, the right-hand one slower but safer. Their route, Big Air (EDI VII+, 870m), starts at a gray tower directly below the summit, eventually breaking out left near the top. The route was climbed in 40 hours round-trip to BC. On August 10, Benson and Benson climbed the south face of the east summit. Their route, Ulysses (ED1/2 VII+, 950m), takes a large sustained corner system below the east summit.

The Red Wall (Pt. 2070m, 66° 20' N, 36° 22' W) is an immaculate south-facing cirque with an easy descent via the east ridge. The South Ridge (D+, 800m) was climbed by Benson and Benson on July 30. They took a gully left of the icefall to gain the ridge. The pair also climbed Red or Dead (EDI VII, 580m) on August 5. They started at the left-hand snow patch and took the right-most of four prominent grooves in the center of the face. The Baron (EDI VII+, 620m) was climbed by Powell and Cool on August 9. The route climbs the next groove left of Red or Dead.

Fallen Star (ca. 2040m, 66° 19' N, 36° 16' W) is a prominent, clean-cut summit. On August 13, Powell and Cool climbed Vidal Soupspoon (ED1/2 VII+, 850m) on the southeast face. Approach was made from the north via the 1550-meter col below the east ridge. The route takes the immaculate comer on the right-hand side of face, eventually joining the east ridge.

The south face of Little Midi (ca. 1650m, 66° 21' N, 36° 15' W) is reminiscent of its namesake. MacNae and Spillet climbed the Southeast Face (TD VI, 260m) in seven good pitches; descent was made down the south flank to the left of the face.

Beacon (ca. 1600m, 66° 17' N, 36° 17' W) is the striking pyramid five miles east of BC. MacNae and Spillet repeated the West Ridge (D+ 800m) on July 31. The climb took six hours for the ascent and another six for the descent, which involved a couple of rappels.

Viewed from Slangen Pass, the Devil’s Thumb (1587m, 66° 14' N, 36° 25' W) appears to come straight out of the movie Close Encounters. The South Face (TD VI+, 300m) was climbed by Benson and Benson on August 14. The route follows a groove system in the center of the face. Descent was made via the east ridge. Finally, on August 16-18, the whole team descended the Knud Rasmussen Glacier on foot and retired to Kulusuk for tea and medals.

Al Powell, United Kingdom

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