American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, South Greenland, Cape Farewell Region, Nalumasortoq South-Southwest Face of Right Pillar, First All Free Ascent of Non C'e Due Senza Tre and First Ascent of a New Route on Half Dome

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

Nalumasortoq, south southwest face of Right Pillar, first all free ascent of Non C’e Due Senza Tre, and first ascent of a new route on Half Dome. For 30 days Micah Dash and I lived out of a cave located several miles from the Tasermiut Fjord in southern Greenland. Our simple home provided shelter, not only from the rain but from the hordes of mosquitoes and biting flies, which rarely entered the cool damp interior. Over this time we made five attempts to free the striking crack system of Non C’e Due Senza Tre, which splits the Right Pillar of Nalumasortoq. Our last attempt placed us a rope length from the summit after swinging leads up 2,500' of immaculate granite.

I have never been able to stay focused on long term climbing projects, preferring the excitement of going into the unknown. This is by far the longest that I had spent on one route. My motivation for another attempt had gone, there were too many virgin lines on the walls surrounding us. I told Micah that it was time for a change of pace. Micah has an obsessive personality and was fixated with completing the route, but he kindly agreed to switch focus to a dome directly opposite the Right Pillar. We determined, from Timmy O’Neill’s and Nathan Martin’s AAJ, that this had been named Half Dome by a Swiss party. The Swiss made the first ascent; free, incorporating fixed ropes and a drill. [Editor’s note:

Castella, Lehner, Truffer, and Zambetti climbed the route Les Temps sont Dur—15 pitches all free at 6c—to the left of the vertical north face in 1998. It’s possible the name Half Dome was first coined by a British party, who had the north face as one of their objectives the same year.] The dome reminded me of Fairview Dome in Tuolumne Meadows, except it dwarfs its California cousin. Standing at the base racking up, we greatly underestimated the dome’s size: this lead us to leave everything except our small free rack and water bottles. From the belays on Nalumasortoq we had seen a crack that started halfway up the wall and continued to the summit. The rock below the crack looked highly featured but there seemed to be only intermittent opportunities for protection. As we started up doubts arose about the possibilities of safely reaching the crack. The difficulty of the climbing was not a problem for us, but the lack of gear was. There was enough to lure us higher, but there were many serious sections where we had to climb 20-30' above gear at 5.10 standard. After swinging leads up seven meandering pitches, we finally reached what we thought from the ground would be a hand crack. It turned out to be a flaring chimney with a finger crack in the back. After several pitches of 10-, the angle started to decrease, but we still were still some way from the top. In an effort to summit before darkness, we decided to simul-climb the remaining 500'. After a few moments of anxious relaxation on the summit, we rappelled into the darkness without headlamps, off the backside into the unknown. The 1,600' route currently remains unnamed but the grade is 5.10X

During the climb, as I was belaying Micah, my gaze would drift over to the Right Pillar of Nalumasortoq and the amazing line we had come so close to sending. This little break from our project had provided me with the inspiration I needed to head back up for our sixth attempt on the Right Pillar. Three days after climbing the dome, we completed the first all free ascent of the Right Pillar via Non C’e Due Senza Tre (2,700', 5.11+). It turned out to be the best route Micah or I have ever climbed. A lead article on this climb is found earlier in this Journal.

Thad Friday

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.