Ren Land, Peak Walters (1,871m), North Face; Bodger (1,954m), Second Ascent; Peak Jean Guillaume (1,949m) From the North; Catherinesbjerg (1,997m), South Face, Wall-to-Wall Couloir; Colonel's Peak (1,965m), Southeast
North America, Greenland, East Coast
In late June Crispin Chatterton, Rob Grant, and I traveled to Ren Land in the west of Scoresbysund. The area is part of the main Greenland landmass, but separated from it by a deep valley, and is characterized by a major ice sheet with smaller subsidiary icecaps. The south of Ren Land is cut east to west by the deep valley of the Edward Bailey Glacier, which allows relatively easy access to the interior. Rock spires and walls reaching an altitude of over 2,000m surround the Edward Bailey.
Following transfer from Constable Pynt by helicopter, the team operated from a base camp located on the glacier at 496m (northeast of, and closer to the snout of the glacier than, the site used in 2007 by the West Lancashire County Scouts). After a period of unsettled weather, conditions improved significantly and winter snow began to melt in earnest. We made exploratory trips from the upper reaches of the glacier to its snout, in order to identify climbing objectives. Subsequently we made ascents of four previously unclimbed peaks.
We climbed Peak Walters, on the south side of upper Edward Bailey Glacier, on July 11 by the 800m north face (45–60°). The route started up a mixture of old avalanche debris and rotten ice. At half-height the snow deepened, and we encountered frequent crevasses, until a bergschrund forced a detour left onto a 55–60° slope. This led to a ridge and the summit a few hundred meters west. From the summit we continued for half an hour on firm snow to a peak known as Bodger (first ascended by West Lancashire County Scouts).
Peak Jean Guillaume is located in the upper reaches of an area known as the Alpine Bowl, which lies south of the lower (eastern) section of the Edward Bailey. Gaining these upper reaches on the 17th involved tricky route-finding, but once there we climbed steeply up a prominent north-facing glacier to a couloir, which we entered from an avalanche cone. A short rock band led to several hundred meters of soft deep snow. This was followed by ice that steepened to 60° and provided access to a col with dramatic views to the coast. From the col a narrow ridge snaked to a beautiful summit and views out to Scoresbysund. Foreboding clouds encouraged a hasty retreat.
We climbed Catherinesbjerg, near Peak Jean Guillaume at the back of the Alpine Bowl, on the 19th via a south-facing couloir (dubbed the Wall-to-Wall Couloir) on perfect 45° névé to a col, from where a short rock step led to easy snow slopes and the summit ridge. From the top of Catherinesbjerg we followed the ridge northwest for 200m to Colonel’s Peak.
Earlier in the expedition we established a rock route on Peak 871m (dubbed the Aiguille de Minuit) near the start of the Alpine Bowl Glacier. This gave six pitches with difficulties up to Hard Severe on poor rock. We investigated two side glaciers rising south from the eastern end of the Edward Bailey and discovered several potential big wall climbs. Ren Land offers great scope for future expeditions, particularly for teams interested in long, alpine-style rock routes and big walls. We thank the Mount Everest Foundation, Gino Watkins Memorial Fund (including the Arctic Club Award), Andrew Croft Memorial Fund, Augustine Courtauld Foundation, and the Alpine Ski Club for their financial help.