North America, Greenland, East Coast, Ren Land, Various Ascents
Ren Land, various ascents. Ren Land forms part of the northern shores of Scoresbysund, the largest fjord system in the world. Although there have been several scientific projects in the region, before 2007, when Ren Land was invaded by 50 West Lancashire County Scouts who had a whale of a time making first ascents of 32 peaks in largely glorious weather, the only known climbing of any significance took place in 1999, when a team of Norwegians and Swedes accomplished several big rock routes on the south coast.
Inspired by the Scouts’ report [AAJ 2008, pp. 201-3], Anthony Garvey, Dave Leonard, Fred Maddelana, Jonathan McCloy, James McKevitt, and Les Ross from Queens University Belfast Mountaineering Club were helicoptered from Constable Pynt to a base camp on the Edward Bailey Glacier, where they stayed for 23 days during June. Quickly discovering that the snow was abysmal and that the only ice was on the glacier, the team climbed primarily rock routes, though they did make ski ascents of two previously unclimbed mountains: Queens Centenary Peak and the nearby Donal Deery, both a 32km journey from base camp.
Team members were relatively inexperienced and admit they didn’t do enough reconnaissance: climbs turned out to be longer and more complex than they looked, and attempts at single-push ascents, using the 24-hour daylight, failed. Once they got into the swing of things and opted for multi-day, alpine-style ascents, pushing as far as they could to a high bivouac on day one, going for the summit and back to the bivouac the following day, and returning to base the next morning, they had more success. New routes included the Thumb III, an 800m rock route at British Hard Severe 4b, an 800m couloir to an unnamed summit at PD, a 700m VS line up an unnamed ridge, and a long, primarily rock route to the summit of President’s Peak on Ten Finger Mountain. Descents were usually along the route of ascent, with much rappelling.
The granitic rock is generally solid and clean, the team finding bands of less desirable stuff on their routes to be short and easy. However, there are some amazing challenges in Ren Land, as proved by the West Lancashire Scouts, who brought back photos of huge rock walls and Trango-like towers, some estimated to be over 1,000m high. For more information see www.qubgreenland.com.
Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, from information provided by Anthony Garvey