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North America, Greenland, East Coast, Milne Land, First Ascent of Orca

Milne Land, first ascent of Orca. Satoshi Kimoto, Taeko and Yasushi Yamanoi made the first ascent of a l,250m-high big wall in northeast Milne Land. It took 17 days during August to complete the 40-pitch route, named Orca, at 5.10+ A2. Yasushi had discovered the wall during an aerial reconnaissance in May. Returning in July with Manabu Hirose, a TV producer from the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Yasushi and his team used a helicopter to fly from Constable Point to Ittoqqortomiit and from there took a boat across Scoresby Sund to the east coast of Milne Land, in about eight hours. From there they again used a helicopter to fly west up a prominent glacier system and then north, toward the coast, down another glacier system to land at a suitable base camp (30-40 minutes flight). On the return they flew by helicopter from base camp to Constable Point (1.5 hours). The use of the helicopter was dictated by the large quantity of filming equipment. They established base camp on July 27 at a height of 400m on the glacier, just 30 minutes walk from the foot of the southwest-fac- ing wall.

The three began climbing the face on the 29th. The first 600m were rather slabby and straightforward, with most pitches 5.9 or less. On August 8 they established a high camp and began work on the headwall, a vertical face of 400m with good crack systems, followed by 250m of ridge. It took five days to climb the 400m, which was mainly crack- and face-climbing at 5.10. However, several loose sections forced the use of aid. On the 15th they placed a final camp on the ridge and the next day, traveling light, completed nine pitches to the summit. The team arrived on top at 11 p.m. after 15 hours climbing. They used 46 bolts. There is no previous report of big wall climbing in Milne Land, but the area has many steep rock walls and alpine faces.

Manabu Hirose and Yasushi Yamanoi, Japan