American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, East Greenland, Watkins Mountains, Two Possible First Ascents Close to Gunnsbjorns Fjeld

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Watkins Mountains, two possible first ascents close to Gunnsbjorns Fjeld. Named by the Vikings “Hvitserk” or “White Shirt,” Gunnbjørns Fjeld stands as the Arctic’s highest mountain. Its 3,693m summit is not technically difficult to reach, but a good degree of mountaineering skill is still required. Our summit day was clear and cold, allowing stunning views of the surrounding Watkins Mountains and the distant Polar Plateau. I had only been in Greenland for three days and already I was so high. I could feel inside me that this was going to be another momentous trip.

We then climbed two virgin peaks in two days—one ascending a long exposed ridge and another through deep snow before returning to base camp. The peaks are situated just south of Gunnbjorns Fjeld, one marked 3,535m, and the other a short distance to the north west and situated on the south west ridge of Gunnsbjorn Fjeld. We GPS heighted them at 3,421m (N68° 53.412' W29° 52.691'—via west ridge) and 3,265m (N68° 53.440' W29° 51.505'—via east ridge) respectively. The lower peak is not marked on any map. Few people have the opportunity to climb a virgin peak—to stand where no one else has been before and survey all below them. It’s a wonderful experience and for me a very personal one. Being that First person does not fill me with pride or prowess, more an inner peace where I can find my soul again. Perhaps climbing itself is one of the world’s great soul searchers. Other climbers who summited these peaks: Phil Poole, guide, and Liz Roche, UK, and Ulrich Goerlach and Wolfgang Schaub, Germany.

Nigel Vardy, United Kingdom

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