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North America, Greenland, Cape Farewell Region, Nalumasortoq, Planeta Spisek, New Route, and Ulamertorssuaq, Ascents

Nalumasortoq, Planeta Spisek, New Route, and Ulamertorssuaq, Ascents. The Polish Greenland 2000 expedition climbing team consisted of Jacek Fluder, Janusz Golab, Stan Piecuch, and Marcin Tomaszewski. They were accompanied by a small television team with Slawek Ejsymont as cameraman. They departed Copenhagen for Greenland on June 30 and returned August 7. In speaking with other teams visiting the area, they felt the weather was exceptionally good; they experienced only three or four days with snowfall, but many with mist and drizzle.

On the south face of Nalumasortoq’s (2051m) Right Pillar, Fluder, Golab, Piecuch and Tomaszewski established Planeta Spisek (The Conspiracy Planet), named after Orson Scott Card’s book, the only one taken on the expedition. The 21-pitch route (5.11c/d A3+, 800m) was attempted on July 6 and climbed July 9-15 in capsule style. Two bolts were placed (on an A3+ pitch).

The line has a few pitches up 50- to 70-degree slabs that lead to a broad snow terrace, from which the team initially started directly up the upper (main) wall to an obvious vertical system of dihedrals and cracks. This 300-meter-plus system runs up the central part of the pillar. A few pitches above the terrace, the team found old pitons. They gained a point ca. 50 meters left of the final slanting formations of the British 1996 attempt (Candle in the Wind, Shepherd-Wilson)*. Seeing pitons above, and realizing the route continues through this prominent system and had probably already been completed, they retreated. Snowfall also contributed to the retreat.

After resting in base camp, they then traversed about 150 meters to the left along the terrace, to avoid uncertainties, and climbed their new line, which leads independently to the top. The route finishes slightly left of the crest of the main pillar (this crest is well defined only in the upper half of the wall; it lies much left of the above-mentioned corner system). The slabs below the terrace may have been previously climbed; the lower part of the route is over- hanging with hard aid pitches, and the upper portions offer interesting free climbing with a few points of aid.

On the west face of Ulamertorssuaq’s western summit (2031m), two speed ascents were made. From 8 a.m. to 7 a.m. on July 23-24, Golab, Piecuch, and Tomaszewski climbed Moby Dick in 23 hours non-stop. The team climbed for 16 hours, then waited at a stance below the second 5.12d/13a pitch for three to four hours due to cold and snowfall. They then finished the last three pitches of rime/verglas-coated rock in plastic boots in three hours. They encoun- tered difficulties up to 5.12b before climbing the final three pitches mostly via aid (A0/A1).

Tomaszewski onsighted the initial 15 pitches up to 5.11d, then Piecuch led onsight until the first 5.12d/13a pitch, which was climbed with rests on gear. Golab then did most of the leading, and took a serious fall due to evening cold from a 5.11c/d offwidth crack on pitch 23 (5.12b). The fall resulted in massive contusions, especially to the ribs. After the .fall, the team’s free climbing ambitions were reduced.

In 15 continuous hours on July 30, Piecuch and Tomaszewski climbed the 900-meter Geneva Diedre/War and Poetry, with difficulties up to 5.12a/b and a pitch of 5.12c with a few points of aid (resting on gear). Piecuch onsighted pitches up to 5.12a/b (pitch 13 on the topo in High Mountain Sports #210, p. 80) and, at 11 a.m., after six hours of climbing, climbed pitch 17 (5.12c) with a few rests on gear as well. In the face of difficult (5.11c/d) offwidth cracks, their clean climbing style was compromised, and they progressed using a few points of aid.

Piecuch suggests that Moby Dick is technically slightly more difficult, though less serious, than War and Poetry. If the weather worsened, it would be easier to force up Moby Dick. Geneva Dihedral/War and Poetry has more wide cracks, is more sustained, and more difficult to protect (for example, in some cracks even the #5 Camalot was useless), resulting in some long 5.11d leads with only two cams for protection. Even on the slabs the distances between bolts is greater.

Both of these ascents were the fastest to date. They were performed without fixed ropes or siege tactics, as had been used on previous ascents. The light and free tactics were quite successful for the initial two-thirds of the routes, at which point fatigue, cold, dusk, and rime reduced the style to “anything if quick.”

On July 18, and again on July 20-21, Tomaszewski attempted a new route solo on the right-hand side of the Ulamertorssuaq massif. (The location of Tomaszewski’s attempt is visible just right of the pillar receiving the narrow strip of sunlight on p. 112 of the 1997 AAJ.) On his third day of climbing, after a portaledge bivouac, rock fall cut his only dynamic rope. He retreated after climbing the next few pitches with a static rope, having climbed less than the half the wall. The slaty, wet, mossy slabs do not offer attractive climbing.

All descents were made by rappel.

Grzegorz Glazek, Polski Zwiazek Alpinizmu, Poland

*On pages 82-85 of World Mountaineering (Audrey Salkeld, Editor. London: Mitchell Beazley, 1998), photos and text by Nigel Shepherd, a member of the Candle in the Wind team, indicate that seven pitches were climbed in the attempt. On page 217 of the 1997 AAJ, a fall by Shepherd is given as the reason for the retreat.