American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, East Greenland, Trillergerne Mountains, Fox Jaw Cirque, Tasiilaq Fjord

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Trillergerne Mountains, Fox Jaw Cirque, Tasiilaq Fjord. The Fox Jaw Cirque lies seven kilometers beyond the head of the Tasiilaq (a.k.a. Ammassalik) Fjord, ca 80 km from the settlement of Tasiilaq. Leaving Reykjavik in Iceland on June 23, Katy Holm, Andrea Kortello, Dave Thomson, and I arrived in Tasiilaq four days later after sailing with the French-owned yacht, Vagabond. After some final shopping, Vagabond took us to the head of the Fjord and we spent the next week reconnoitering the area. We decided to make the East Trillergerne Peak, which lies north of the Fox Jaw Cirque, our First climbing objective.

From our valley base camp we accessed the Trillergerne peaks by ascending a terminal moraine for ca 300 meters, then continuing up the ridge until we were below the north side of the Fox Jaw Cirque. Here, we crossed a glacier to the peaks. We climbed the western peak to the first ledge system, then traversed across this to reach our peak. At this point we rapped straight down, fixing lines as we went. Next day we re-ascended to our high point and continued scrambling for ca 100 meters, after which the climbing became moderate. With eternal Arctic daylight we continued through the “night” and reached the summit at 3:00 p.m. on July 16. We feasted on breathtaking views of glacier-fed fjords and numerous virgin summits. The route was rappelled and the glacier reached after 44 hours of non-stop climbing. We christened it Lithographic (16 pitches, 5.10 A0).

Katy, Andrea, and Dave next went into the Fox Jaw Cirque. Their chosen objective was not to be taken lightly. After five days working the route they had still not been able to free the first pitch. A shower of rain brought them back to camp. Two days later we all returned to the cirque. On our second day back Katy freed the pitch. At this point Dave left for Canada. On August 2 we decided to go for the top. By midnight, after consistently demanding climbing, we reached an impassable roof. This, and the return in August of some night-time darkness forced a decision to descend. This partially completed route has nine pitches up to 5.11c and A0.

We returned to the Trillergerne peaks for our final climb. Starting our ascent as before, we continued up on the western peak. Carrying a tarp and a stove we aimed for a patch of snow about halfway to the summit. Initially we hoped to climb all the way to the top but by the second day realized it would take several days due to the complexity of route finding. As we hadn’t budgeted for this, we focused on a nearer goal. We reached the top by 3:30 p.m. on August 9, then rapped the route, spending one more night on the mountain. Calleditas has 13 pitches up to 5.9.

Back in camp our bodies were exhausted and although we still had time for another climb, we headed out to the village of Kuummiut with some local fishermen. Here we spent five glorious days with locals, who invited us into their homes. We ate whale steaks and fresh fish and were allowed a small insight into Inuit life. During the five weeks we spent in the area, we had only three days of rain. This is really unusual for the region.

Karen McNeill

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