American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Cape Farewell Region, Agdlerussakasit, Maujit Qoqarsassia, New Route

Greenland, South Coast

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: David Kaszlikowski
  • Climb Year: 2007
  • Publication Year: 2008

On August 14 Eliza Kubarska and I, from Poland, finished our new route to the summit of 1,560m Maujit Qoqarassia [a subsidiary summit of 1,750m Agdlerussakasit, above the west bank of Torssukatak Sound—Ed]. The east face of this summit, which rises straight out of the fjord, has been called one of the tallest sea cliffs in the world and can only be reached by boat. Despite the fact our team was only two, we decided to travel by kayak; we were not only able to explore the cliffs but also have our full share of adventure. As usual we would have to overcome our fear of falling, but this time falling into water, where hypothermia would set in fast.

After traveling deep into the fjord, we established base camp on Pamiagdluk Island, 2km from the wall on the opposite side of the channel. Kayaking to the foot of the face was the only way to start the climb and unlike the other three parties that have climbed routes on this face, we had to work alone with no one left at base. Our first problem was finding a place we could safely leave kayaks, and get back to them after sending the route. We found a good spot but then had to make a traverse to our chosen line, and here we left a few fixed ropes.

After climbing the first 600m we reached spectacular overhangs, and found that aid would be necessary to circumvent them. However, our goal was free-climbing, so we rappelled two pitches (including a wonderful pitch of 7a) to a ledge and went looking for other possibilities. We found a line that avoided the roofs on the left. We were fortunate with bivouacs: each night, by luck, we found some sort of ledge.

Three days of climbing took us to a big terrace that cuts across the face. That same day the weather turned bad and, after spending the night under a big boulder in a storm, we decided to retreat by following the terrace left, traversing a system of ledges, and descending vertical grass to the snow couloir that borders the left edge of the face. Going down from here was rather dramatic. It was raining; the couloir was steep with 10m- deep breaks, and water thundered underneath. Having to negotiate this in approach shoes, with a hammer instead of an ice axe, totally psyched us out. The rope wasn’t proving much help, and our biggest fear was falling into a slot with the river below. We hadn't taken axes or crampons, because we didn't want to carry them on the face, and the couloir had looked easy in good weather.

Eventually we reached a 20m-high ice wall. On either side rose wet, vertical walls. Rivers cascaded around us, soaking everything except the jammed block on which we were standing. We were cold, our sleeves were wet, and our feet freezing. We took a minute to warm up, then began a rappel, praying that the rope wouldn't slip off the rock, in which case I’d probably drown in the waterfall. The haul bag turned me upside down but I managed to catch the first rock sticking out of the water and pull myself towards it. Thank God I didn’t tie a prussic; being wet it would have almost certainly jammed. After six hours we reached the kayaks but it was too rough to paddle the fjord, so we spent another night in the rain, sitting on our ropes with plastic bags over our heads. Fortunately it was calm in the morning, and after 20 minutes paddling we were inside the tent.

It now rained for six days. When it stopped, we returned to the face, using rope left in place to speed our return up the tricky couloir to the terrace. After a bivouac we reached the top in 10.5 hours. This upper part was beautiful climbing on solid granite, with sections of 6c+. Some of the most interesting parts were terribly difficult, wet offwidths led by Eliza. The last pitch to the summit was a 60m tower, at 6c+, with an amazing view. However, just after we topped out, clouds built over our heads, and soon we couldn't see farther then 100m. We rappelled late into the night from natural gear. The top section of our route may share common ground with Hidrofilia (6c+/7a A2+, 1,620m of climbing), completed by Cecilia Buil and Roberta Nunez in 2003. [There are two other routes to the right that lead to a slightly lower summit, dubbed The Thumbnail. One was climbed in 2000 at British E6 6b by Ben Bransby, Matt Dickinson, Ian Parnell, and Gareth Parry from the U.K, the other in 2003 by lames Mehigan and Richard Sonnerdale at Brtiish E3 5c. Both have a vertical gain from the sea of 1,350m. The wall is around 1.5km wide—Ed.)

Our route, Golden Lunacy, was 1,500m high with maximum difficulties of 7a+. Apart from one pitch, where a rest point was used while drilling a bolt to pass a loose block, the route was free- climbed onsight, some pitches being climbed unroped. There are five bolts on the route: three on belays and two for protection. The granite was excellent throughout; we believe these fjords house some of the best granite climbing in the world, with unclimbed walls 700-900m high.

David Kaszlikowski, Poland

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