Staunings Alps, Great Cumbrae Glacier, first ascents. Following previous Scottish Mountaineering Club expeditions to the Staunings Alps of Northeast Greenland in 1996 and 1998, our party of six (J. Fairey, C. Jones, C. Ravey, B. Shackleton, N. Walmsley, and me) was lifted by helicopter from the coastal airstrip at Mesters Vig to the Great Cumbrae Glacier. Base camp was established on July 23.
Over the next 25 days the weather remained mainly fine and stable with only two days of bad weather. In the warmer hours snow conditions would deteriorate and slopes and couloirs become dangerous, but 24 hours of daylight allowed us to move around in the colder periods (night time temperatures were around -5°C), when the snow was stable. However, there were several nights when it was even too warm to do this.
The surrounding glaciers were explored on skis and a number of unclimbed peaks noted, some of which were not shown on the maps in our possession. On July 26, climbing as pairs, the whole party made what we believe to be the first ascent of Keswicktinde (2380m) on the ridge between Tupilaq and Sefstromsgipfel. An easy couloir followed by two steeper pitches of ice led to a col, from where the northwest ridge, heavily corniced and steep in places, was followed for 10 pitches to the summit snow cone (650 meters, Grade AD).
On July 28 a new route was established on Sussex (2330m) from the Great Cumbrae Glacier by Shackleton and me. The line followed the far left-hand branch of the couloir between Sussex and Sydney. This was easy at first, after which there were several pitches of steeper ice to a col. Two pitches up a steep ice slope, followed by five pitches of rock on the southeast face led to the final ridge section above the south face. One rock pitch put us on top (650 meters, D). Sussex had only received one previous ascent, in 1963 from the northeast (AD).
The first ascent of a fine rock spur (the Jones/Fairey Spur) above Great Cumbrae Glacier leading to unclimbed summit (2570m) just north of Sefstromsgipfel was completed by Fairey and Jones on July 28-29. The 550-meter route had 27 pitches and was graded ED. The pair descended by rappelling into a couloir to the south, after which one climber was avalanched 300 meters and finished up unharmed in the rimaye. He was rescued from this point by the other five members.
On August 10 Fairey and Jones made the first ascent of a small peak at the junction of Little Cumbrae and Cantabrae glaciers. Pap of Cumbrae (1695m) was climbed via its southeast ridge, giving four pitches on rock (200 meters, AD). On the same day Ravey, Shackleton, Walmsley, and I made the first ascent of Mearsfjeld (2100m), a peak on the ridge between Little Cumbrae and Cantabrae. From Little Cumbrae Glacier we climbed a couloir, which steepened at the top to exit on to a col beside a square rock peak. From here the easy southwest ridge was followed to the top (400 meters, PD). On August 13-14 Fairey and Jones made the first ascent of Tandlaegetinde (2350m) via the south face. This is a peak on the ridge between Tupilaq and Sefstromsgipfel, and the 400-meter route gave 15 pitches of rock at an overall grade of TD.
Attempts were made on the south face of Sussex, a 700- to 800-meter difficult rock wall; a new route on Sydney, which was terminated only 60 meters from the summit due to unstable snow; the unnamed square rock peak, where we got to within a couple of pitches from the summit before loose rock barred the way; and the west ridge of Emmanuel, where 12 pitches were completed at an overall TD before an impasse was reached one-third of the way up the ridge. There is still much potential for new rock climbing in this area.
Colin Read, Scottish Mountaineering Club