American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Nunavut, Baffin Island, Copier Pinnacle, A Little Less Conversation

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2008

Copier Pinnacle, A Little Less Conversation. On April 16, 2006, my best friend Hans Copier committed suicide. Two weeks after his death I, with Dutch climbers Roland Bekendam and Rens Horn, set out for the Stewart Valley, attempting to climb an unclimbed mountain via a vertical 800m rock face. I wished to place Hans’ ashes on top of this mountain.

We struggled in cold and bad weather with loose rock and loneliness. After 50 days I came home having climbed less than 300m of the virgin wall. During the last day on the wall we left a small jar with the ashes on a tiny ledge, making it impossible for me to not return or to forget this climb. I stashed some gear in Stewart Valley and, once home, started looking for financial support and, most importantly, a climbing partner.

In early 2007, when I was thinking of returning alone, I found somebody who wanted to join me. Niels van Veen was an experienced climber, but not on the big stone. We entered Stewart Valley on May 6, having problems with just barely enough snow on the moraine for skidoo travel. After leaving us with food and fuel for almost five weeks, the Inuit left and loneliness surrounded me once again. There, above a 900m high slope stood the wall that made me travel here all over again. (Base camp at N 70°44' W 71°27'.)

Conditions were much colder than the year before, but we made good progress on the wall, aiding to A3 and free climbing the wider sections at 5.11a. We spent seven straight nights in our portaledge, fixing ropes as we went. On May 20 we arrived at the summit, exactly one year after I started the climb. There were no signs of earlier ascents, so we named the mountain Copier Pinnacle, in loving memory of Hans Copier. We made a small tower on the summit on which I placed the jar with ashes, feeling joy and sadness at the same time.

Two days later back at base camp, we discovered that our satellite telephone was blocked by the provider, and there was no way to communicate with the rest of the world. People at home would start to worry, and Levi, our outfitter, was waiting for confirmation to pick us up at Walker Arm.

I remembered seeing three weeks earlier, when we were cruising the fjords on the back of a skidoo, a big base camp at Sam Ford Fjord, so we went there lightweight. It was odd to realize that nowadays men had to walk almost 90km to make a phone call. We found a team of six BASE jumpers, a luxurious base camp with lots of great food, and, I almost forgot, a telephone that put us in contact with the rest of the world.

We named the 800m high route A Little Less Conversation, a name that will always make me remember the old days.

Martin Fickweiler, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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