North America, Greenland, East Coast, Kangerdlugssuaq South, First Ascents

Publication Year: 2007.

Kangerdlugssuaq South, first ascents. From July 22 to August 18,2005, Dave Swinburne and I climbed 16 new peaks within three previously unvisited glacier systems that descend from the fringes of the ice cap southeast of the Hutchinson Plateau. We shared a Twin Otter from Isaffordur, Iceland, with another group, but, after setting a GPS location and date for the pick-up, we loaded pulks and headed off on our own, leaving the other group to explore the immediate area.

Our routine was simple. We would typically spend three or four days in one location, climb, and move on to another destination. The vagueness of our two A4 satellite photos from NASA, at a scale of 1:150,000, encouraged us to choose peaks and routes that we found attractive, as and when they appeared. There is insufficient detail on the images to allow for prior planning, and a small pair of binoculars proved useful on the ground. Each day we would spot new goals in the distance, and each time we moved camp we would see new objectives around the next buttress or above a col. First ascents primarily involved broken granite ridges and, invariably, sections of unstable granular snow. Some of the granite was superb, and friction in "big boots" was excellent. All the routes were between F and AD+ in difficulty. One route we climbed toward the end of the trip was particularly good: a rock rib, a sharp undulating snow ridge, a tower that required a committing rappel, and then a series of cracks up a clean vertical wall. We graded this enjoyable route AD/AD+, with pitches of UIAA IV (Pk. 2,501m in the list below). Altitudes and GPS coordinates of our new peaks were as follows: Pk. 2,208m (N 68° 10', W 33° 52'), Pk. 2,215m (N 68° 10', W 33° 51'), Pk. 2,195m (N 68° 09', W 33° 49'), Pk. 2,142m (N 68° 09', W 33° 43'), Pk. 2,042m (N 68° 11', W 33° 45'), Pk. 2,122m (N 68° 15', W 33° 35'), Pk. 2,037m (N 68° 18', W 33° 38'), Pk. 2,222m (N 68° 18', W 33° 41'), Pk. 2,224m (N 68° 18', W 33° 50'), Pk. 2,155m (N 68° 20', W 33° 42'), Pk. 2,501m (N 68° 19', W 33° 53'), Pk. 2,518m (N 68° 19', W 33° 52'), Pk. 2,260m (M 68° 20', W 33° 46'), Pk. 2,437m (N 68° 21', W 33° 48'), Pk. 2,401m (N 68° 15', W 34° 08'), and Pk. 2,277m (N 68° 08', W 33° 46').

We enjoyed excellent weather throughout the trip, but when we eventually met with the other group for the return flight to Iceland, we were stuck for two days in poor visibility, before the pilot could land.

Opportunities abound in this region, and to wake every day with clear skies and pleasant temperatures almost made us feel guilty. Alpinism involves suffering? The trip was pure pleasure.

Stuart Howard, U.K.