American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, South Greenland, Cape Farewell Region, Nalumasortoq (2,045 m), New Route on South-Southwest Face of Central Pillar and First Free Ascent of Any of the Pillars

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

Nalumasortoq (2,045m), new route on south-southwest face of Central Pillar and first free ascent on any of the pillars. Ulamertorssuaq, Moby Dick attempt. On June 26, 2001 Petr Balcar, Pavel Jonák, Václav atava and Martin Vrkoslav from the Czech Republic left Copenhagen airport for Narssarssuaq, Greenland. Three days later we reached the Tasermiut fjord and met the French expedition, who provided some information about prior weather and access to our wall.

At home we had planned to climb a new route in the center of the pillar left of Cheese Finger at three o’clock, basing our ideas on a far from perfect photograph. Reality was somewhat different. However, a look through the binoculars revealed a line that seemed climbable with the exception of several vague sections.

We had only one two-man portaledge, so our tactics involved one pair climbing for two days, fixing rope on the route, while the other pair rested ready to take over for the next stint. After 10 days we reached the summit ridge, having climbed 17 pitches of vertical and overhanging granite with difficulties up to VIII+ and A2/3. We placed three bolts on the first, second, and fifth, plus double-bolt belays on every belay. Our objective was then to try to climb as much of the route as possible free. Four days were spent trying to redpoint the previously aided pitches. By the end of that period we had managed to free all the pitches except the first (due to bad weather). Four days later the weather turned better again and Vaclav and Pavel managed to climb this pitch free as well.

Turkish Garland Figs (IX) gives ca 700 m of cracks (some of which are thin) and corners in mostly vertical and overhanging granite of excellent quality save for the first pitch. Five pitches are straight IX- or above and the crux is a thin crack on pitch 13. All pitches have been climbed free in pink point or on-sight. Some bolts were added in a few pitches for the sake of our and subsequent free ascents. The ideal place for the portaledge is on pitch 9. Those repeating the route will need to take 2×60m of rope, nuts, cams, and microcams. There is no need to carry either pitons or large cams.

Our second objective was to repeat Moby Dick (31 pitches, IX+) on Ulamertorssuaq. Due to poor weather we not able to start the route until four days prior to our planned departure from the fjord, and as Martin had to leave early due to work commitments, we climbed as a threesome. We reached the Black Man Ledge in a long day and on the following day climbed and fixed six pitches. The weather got worse on the third day and we were forced to retreat from the 28th pitch (the crux is the compact wall on the 29th pitch). The grade was IX/IX+ and all pitches of VIII and below were climbed on-sight. Although we did not climb the whole route, we were able to make a good grade comparison with our own route.

Our team included people with knowledge of Alpine climbing and crack climbing on the Czech sandstone but little experience on big walls. This had been evident at the beginning when we made slower progress. However, in a few days there were no problems. The weather was also on our side during most of our time on Nalumasortoq and we enjoyed two weeks of Greenland summer without a drop of rain.

We would like to thank the French team, who left us a few ropes that were handy for the ascent and Rene Nielsen from the Nanortalik Tourist Centre, who took care of us after our return. In addition thanks to our sponsors: Czech Mountaineering Association, LANEX (ropes), Adr -Design (haul bag), PETZL, VauDe, Hudy Sport, Schwarzkopf Sport, and others….

Vaclav atava, Czech Mountaineering Association.

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