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North America, Canada, Baffin Island, Sam Ford Fjord

Sam Ford Fjord, New Routes and Various Activity. Four Norwegian climbers, Bjarte Bo, Halvor Hagen, Torkel Roisli, and I, visited the Sam Ford Fjord in May and June. Arriving in the fjord in the evening of May 6, we decided on a line that started up the north face of Polar Sun Spire and then took the east pillar to the summit. May 8 to 10 was spent fixing the first four pitches. The ice was left May 11, and the first wall camp was set at some small ledges atop pitch four. The top of the first pillar was reached on the 17th after 15 pitches of challenging climbing. The crux of the climb (A4) was found in this lower part of the route. This was a very loose pitch with many skyhook moves and other thin stuff. The lower pillar was about 700 meters high, with highly variable climbing and rock quality. The line was fairly continuous, with only one pitch of extensive drilling. All but three pitches on this part of the route were overhanging, very much so in parts.

On May 19, the 300-meter section of snow slogging to gain the headwall was done, and we were ready to start climbing on the headwall. May 20-25 was spent climbing to a point two pitches from the summit ridge. The climbing in this upper part was quite a bit easier than in the lower section. At 8 a.m. on May 26, all four summited after climbing the last three pitches from the top of the fixed lines. The same day we were back at the highest portaledge camp (Camp IV), having cleared all ropes on the way. After a night of bad weather, we continued the descent all the way to the fjord, having climbed the Norwegian Route (VII 5.10 A4, 30 roped pitches).

Bo quickly got bored with base camp life, so just a few days after coming off Polar Sun he free soloed the South Ridge of the Beak. This route had climbing up to 5.8. It’s not known if it had been climbed before.

After this, Bo and Roisli went on a ski tour into Stewart Valley, while Hagen and I climbed a ten-pitch new route to the south summit of the Turret (which we believe was unclimbed). Insomnia (IV 5.10+ Al, 1,500') climbs the south face of the south summit. Most of the route was free climbed, but we wore plastic boots due to the conditions, and all will go free in warmer conditions with rock climbing shoes. The route was climbed in about nine and a half hours. Descent was by rappel just west of the route. This is probably the fourth route on the Turret massif.

Some days later, Bo and Roisli started a new line on Great Cross Pillar in very warm conditions. They climbed 18 pitches, mostly free up to 5.11 in rock boots, with some very good climbing. They called the route Helluland Revisited (V 5.11 Al). The pair relaxed for a few hours during the night, but finished the roundtrip in about 36 hours.

At the same time, Hagen and I went to do Broad Peak from the south. This ended up being mostly skiing in quite bad snow conditions due to the warm temperatures. I gave up after skiing to Broad Peak’s south col, while Hagen pressed on to the very summit. The route was scree slopes from the south col to the obvious summit snowfield 100 meters below the summit, then hard snow for the final 100 meters. This is probably the easiest way to the summit and was probably first done in the 1970s.

After this, Hagen and I went to find a line on the Walker Citadel. Hoping for a possible free line, we ended up doing a snow gully on the south face. This gully was about 1000 meters long, and was climbed in the night for the best possible snow conditions. On the highest summit we found a cairn, one that wasn’t made by any of the big wall expeditions that have been on this complex mountain. Therefore, either the gully line has been done before or there is some other “easy” route to the summit. This route was soloed both up and down. For lines, etc., check out the Baffin section of www.headwall.com.

Odd-Roar Wiik, Norway