American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Greenland, East Coast, Ren Land, Exploration, Science, and First Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2008

Ren Land, exploration, science, and first ascents. Following a successful expedition to neighboring Milne Land in 2004, 50 members of West Lancashire County Scouts again left the U.K. in July for the Arctic. Our final destination was to be the rarely visited Ren Land, a mountainous, glaciated area attached to the mainland of East Greenland in the innermost depths of Scoresby Sund.

The main party arrived at Constable Point on July 20 by chartered flight from Iceland Air. Over the following two days, the main party traveled via Milne Land and on to Ren Land using Twin Otter aircraft, a helicopter, and six local speedboats. Base camp was at a height of 656m (GPS) on the north side of the Edward Bailey Glacier, which flows down to the Catalindalen.

Existing maps are based on aerial photography, with very little ground exploration. Collectively, the expedition explored almost 1,000 square miles of glaciated mountainous terrain in the center of Ren Land. This will improve knowledge and detail on the 1:50,000 maps prepared by a Network member of the expedition.

The area was a milieu of spires and minarets— far harsher than experienced in Milne Land in 2004. Despite this, we climbed 32 mountains— all of which were first mountaineering ascents and have been named, subject to confirmation. Most of these were two to four days from base camp. Challenging gullies and mixed routes were put up by several members of the expedition. We also identified major climbing objectives, particularly for those into big wall climbing; some were thought to be well in excess of 1,200m high.

During our time in East Greenland, the expedition also established neutron-sensing equipment for cosmic ray analysis on behalf of the University of Central Lancashire, caught seed bugs for the University of Stirling, and collected glacial rafted debris for the University of Lancaster. From comparison with the available aerial photographs (1987) we will be able to provide an indication of the rate of recession of the glaciers in the area.

The weather was fairly typical for the Arctic. Of the 32 days in East Greenland we experienced only two of low mist/light rain, 16 days of predominantly sunny weather, and for the remaining 14 wall-to-wall blue skies, 24 hours a day. We did many activities at night to take advantage of slightly firmer snow and less meltwater

We began on July 27 with an ascent of Commandment Peak (2,127m, 0527 1400 / 7891 1800) in the Alpine Bowl. Then came Missing Ring (2,110m, 0516 185 / 7901 744), a ski peak on the Main Ice Cap, July 28 (and again on August 10); Ren Land Icecap High Point (2,303m, 0513 634 / 7904 687), a ski peak on the Main Ice Cap, July 29; and Screeming Rib (ca 1,500m, 0523 700 / 7901050) behind base camp, July 30. On July 31 two parties climbed Christmas Pud- erne (2,122m, 0518 637 / 7900 571), west of Watchtower Glacier, one via White Christmas Gully; Little Pudding (2,103m, 0517 907 / 7900 515), west of Watchtower Glacier; Consolation Point (1,914m, 5248.000 / 7894 800), south of Edward Bailey Glacier, across from base camp via Lost Valley Glacier and Prolapsed Gully; and Pourhelène (1,909m, 0519 119 / 7898 504), west of Base Camp. On August 1 we climbed Scout Centenary (2,016m, 0526 930 / 7902 263), EBG north side and east of base camp, via Mare de Glace; Dyb Dyb Dyb (2,100m, 0527 166 / 7902 638), EBG north side and east of Base Camp; Dob Dob Dob (2,167m, 0527 785 / 7903 385), EBG north side, east of base camp; Woggle (2,168m, 0527 810 / 7903 732), EBG north side, east of base camp; Bite of Trevor (2,146m, 0528 112 / 7904 342), EBG north side, east of base camp; Montane (2,201m, 0527 164 / 7906 576), EBG north side, east of base camp; Jamboree 2007 (2,055m, 0520 673 / 7907 082) north of EBG on main ice cap. More summits were ascended on August 4: Great Tower (1,802m, 0518 924 / 7905 223) above Ski Camp; Sea Kayak- er's Enigma (2,007m, 05182 590 / 7905 850) on the main ice cap north of EBG; Mount Brassi- ca (2,065m, 05229600 / 7901804) on the ice cap behind base camp, ascent via Screeming Rib Extension and descent by Joe's Folly; St Pauls (2,185m, 0528710 / 7902790) on the north side of EBG, east of base camp; Passe Pa (2,013m, 0518 811 / 7893 517) at the corner of EBG and Catalindalen, via Afdintha Glacier; Kragenrede (2037m, 0518 556 / 7893 050) at the corner of EBG and Catalindalen; Twelfth Knight (2,055m, 0514 131 / 7893 539) on the south side of upper EBG. The next foray took place on August 7 when we climbed Badger (2,044m, 0510 148 / 7893580), on the south side of upper EBG; Bodger (1,954m, 0512 127 / 7894 800) on the south side of upper EBG; B2 (1,947m, 0511 999 / 7894 455) on the south side upper EBG; Unicorn (1,894m, 0526 313 / 7896 1) on south side of EBG, opposite base camp, via Pipe Dream Gully; SAC (2,063m, 0526 239 / 7894 070) on south side of EBG, opposite base camp, also via Pipe Dream Gully. On the 10th we climbed the Watchtower (1,859m, 0519 239 / 7905 169) a tower at the head of Watchtower Glacier; Fulfilment (2,101m, 0535 298 / 7892 167) in the Alpine Bowl overlooking Scoresby Sund; Trio Grande (2,185m, 0533 923 / 7893 061) in the Alpine Bowl; Peak 2 (2,007m, 0534 068 / 7892 759) in the Alpine Bowl; Peak 3 (2,185m, 0534 389 / 7892 497) in the Alpine Bowl; Peak 4 (2,185m, 0535 020 / 7892 674) in the Alpine Bowl. Our last ascent was made on the 14th: Point 5P (2,185m, 5360 9000 / 7913 1500), a spur of Recce Peak at the head of Apusinikagik. Location coordinates were generally obtained using GPS, as per established UTM coordinates overlaid on our own 1:50,000 maps, prefixed by W 26°.

On August 9 a kayak group left base camp for the coast with a view to paddling out through Bear Islands to arrive on Milne Land by the 15th. Helicopters were used to take equipment from base camp to either the coast or Constable Point, after which all members walked out to the Ren Land coastal strip, arriving by the 14th, ready for collection by local speedboats, which would transfer them to Milne Land. From there it was a Twin Otter flight back to Constable Point. The expedition returned to Iceland on the 18th

Dick Griffiths, U.K.

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