American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, Cape Farewell Region, Lindenows Fjord, Apostelens Tommelfinger, Attempt on a New Route

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

Lindenows Fjord, Apostelens Tommelfinger, attempt on a new route. In 2003 German climbers, Steffen Laetsch, Jens and Michael Richter, and I from Dresden and Freital made an attempt at a new route on the 2,300m Apostelens Tommelfinger above the Lindenows Fjord in Cape Farewell (the first ascent of the Apostle’s Thumb was made in July 1975 by the French climbers Maurice Barrard, Pierre Henri Feuillet, Dominique Marchai, Georges Narbaud, Yves Payrau, Michel Pellé, and Gérard Vellay via the 1,600m South Pillar. We traveled from Nanortalik in the boat Ketil and when we arrived the peak was covered in snow and in very bad shape. We first established a high camp below the wall. This required humping tons of equipment over a vertical gain of ca 1,000m from the fjord. The first few days of climbing were a real adventure as the snow melted on the Thumb and soaked us. Then the mountain woke up and showered us with stonefall. After seven days climbing we had fixed 800m of static and established a portaledge camp at the top of the ropes.

After a rest we spent seven days on the wall climbing from our portaledges toward the summit. To do so we needed to remove some of our ropes from the lower part of the wall, in order that we could fix above and return each night to the portaledges. On the last day, July 13, we found difficult and dangerous rock, so our progressed slowed. Then the weather turned nasty with storm and snow fall. We eventually had to give up just 20 meters below the summit icefield.

Back in our portaledges we planned to wait out the weather and make a second attempt. However, during that night we heard the noise of stonefall. One missile made a direct strike on our tent and hit Micheal’s foot. It was obviously broken and we had to administer painkillers all night. It took the next three days to evacuate our casualty to base camp and in doing so we had to leave nearly all our equipment behind on the wall. In the end we put up a new but unfinished route on the highest peak in South Greenland. The line is ca 1,600 meters long and with difficulties up to VIII- A2 45°. We plan to return in 2005 and complete the route alpine style.

Frank Polte, Germany

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