American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, Northeast Greenland, Niels Holgersen Nunatakker, Multiple First Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

Niels Holgersen Nunatakker, multiple first ascents. In June and July, the team of Geoff Bonney, James Carnegie, Gordon Downs, David Keaton, John Starbuck, and Paul Walker climbed several peaks in the Niels Holgersen Nunatakker(N 73° 22'). Between us we had a total of more than 50 previous expeditions to Greenland. Upon reflection, one member wistfully quoted a legendary Arctic explorer saying “for old age there is always the Arctic.”

Located approximately 30 miles northwest of Petermann’s Bjerg (2,933m and considered to be the highest peak in northeast Greenland, a region generally referred to as the High Arctic) and adjacent to the Martin Knudsen Nunatakker, the NHN is one of the most northerly groups of alpine peaks in the world.

On June 17 the team departed from Iceland via a ski-equipped Twin Otter and after a refueling stop at Constable Point landed on an unnamed glacier. The expedition experienced near flawless weather and unexpectedly high temperatures, which necessitated that most ski and climbing tours were accomplished during the cooler hours of night.

As there is no record of any climbing party having visited this extremely remote range, all peaks were previously unnamed and unclimbed. The naming of peaks is not unusual within mountain ranges that have no record of permanent or migratory indigenous populations. True to most of the world’s mountains, their appellations are invariably subject to future interpretation.

From a single base camp the following peaks were climbed: June 19, Enlightenment (2,321m); June 20, Domino (2,543m – 73°22.161) and Blackjack (2,505m); June 21, Titania (2,286m), Oberon (2,261m) and Puck (2281m); June 22, Sgurr Alastair (2320m); June 23, Schihallion (2,324m); June 24, Jasan (2,351m – 73°19.885) and Catherine (2,307m – 73°19.925); June 26, Ice Bear (2,413m), Snowstream (2,361m) and Snow Dance (2,300m); June 28, Emma Bjerg (2,209m – 73°20.358); June 30, Carol-Mary Nunattaker (2,061m); July 1, Hercules (2,295m – 73°23.994). The team departed the NHN on July 5 with a spectacular over-flight of Petermann’s Bjerg, the Staunings Alps, Liverpool Land, and finally the largest fjord in the world, Scorsby Sund, where the pack ice had recently broken free.

David D. Keaton

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