American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, South Greenland, Tasermiut Fjord, Nalumasortoq, Left-hand Pillar British Route, Second Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2003

Tasermiut Fjord, Nalumasortoq, Left-hand pillar British Route, second ascent. John Dickey, Evan Stevens, and myself arrived in Nanortalik in late July. The starting point for our expedition was a lot more hospitable than we imagined, providing groceries (to replace what we threw away to make the baggage limits), beer, ATM, and bad American TV in the hostel. The following day, after a four-hour boat ride into the fjord, we were racking up to get on Pingasut, a prominent pyramid-shaped peak. Sixteen hours later we returned to base camp hungry and thirsty but having repeated an existing line of around 5.10 in standard. On top of that peak we knew why Greenland was a popular climbing destination; the 360° view showed at least 20 big walls rising 3,000 feet out of the sea about 15 miles away. They lay between us and the Polar Ice Cap, The Tasermiut Fjord has an endless supply of granite to rival any place on earth. It was here that we got our first real glimpse of our main goal; Nalumasortoq.

After being turned back on an attempt to establish a new route on an unclimbed peak, we decided to focus our energy on the original goal; a one-day ascent of Nalumasortoq. Several days humping loads were needed before we could establish our second advanced camp in a week. From our new position, we were able to scope most of the lines on the 1800-foot wall, decided to attempt the probable second ascent of the original route on the pillars, the 1995 British Route up the center of the Left-hand Pillar, climbed by Anderson, Dring, Dring, and Tattersall at British E4 and A2. Following Yvon Chouinard’s advice from many years ago, we had been using Yosemite’s walls as our training ground and felt that the fast and light skills we had gained would help us complete the ascent

With a few liters of water, a handful of energy bars and some warm coats, we started climbing at 8 a.m. on August 3. We fixed no ropes nor did we have any detailed information on the route. However, the line is unmistakable, following a single amazing crack and corner system up the dead vertical wall for 17 pitches. Climbing in blocks and short fixing as much as possible, we were able to free most of the classic crack climbing at 5.10 to 5.11 and never used our hammers (which was good because we only had about four pins). Early in the day, Evan dislodged a rock while leading and it zeroed in on the belay below. The rock tagged my hand and helmet, causing me to black out for a few seconds. After a short but violent release of four letter words I decided my hand might not be broken and I could keep going. Ten hours later I was in the midst of seven-pitch block, climbing through the four-hour night with a headlamp to take us through to the top. All John and Evan had to do was hold the break rope, jumar and watch the most marvellous display of Aurora Borealis that we had ever seen.

After 18 hours of continuous climbing we topped out a little after 4 a.m., catching the first glimpses of sunrise. We treated ourselves to a victory summit nap, ate our last pack of gel and started the 17 raps back to the ground. The next thing we knew we were eating Wasa and Nutella in our base camp cave, enjoying our unbelievable weather and relishing possibly the first one-day ascent of Nalumasortoq. Evan Stevens and I were both recipients of Lyman Spitzer and Fellowship grants for 2002.

Micah Dash, AAC

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