American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Lindenows Fjord, Apostelens Tommelfinger (2,300m), South Face Attempt

North America, Greenland, South Greenland, Cape Farewell Region

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Lindsay Griffin
  • Climb Year: 2008
  • Publication Year: 2009

In 2003 Steffan Laetsch, Frank Polte, and Jens and Michael Richter from Germany attempted a new route on the south face of Apostelens Tommelfinger. After climbing 1,600m up to UIAA VIII- A2 45°, they were forced to give up at a point estimated to be just 20m below the summit icefield, when the weather turned nasty. They retreated to their portaledge camp, where they planned to wait for the weather to clear before finishing the job. However, during the night stonefall hit the camp and broke Michael Richter’s foot. The team spent three difficult days evacuating the stricken climber to base camp, leaving most of their gear on the wall.

Michael Richter returned in 2005, hoping to access the peak from the Tasermiut, but the non-arrival of air-freighted gear and a difficult glacier leading onto the icecap prevented him from reaching the peak. In 2008 Polte and Richter were helicoptered into the fjord and made two attempts to finish the route. On the second attempt they made good time to the start of the headwall at about half-height, only to find the lower part of a previously climbed pillar badly damaged by rockfall. The top of the pillar had huge cracks and looked very unstable; a 40m- high by 10m-wide section had moved sideways. They gave up their attempt. On their departure the helicopter pilot flew close to the 2003 high point. Richter could see that only 10m of difficulties remained, after which 15m of easier ground led to the top of the rock section and start of an easy stroll to the summit. He notes that the Tommelfinger has three summits of almost identical altitude, flanked by large, steep rock walls on all sides—an incredible mountain (first climbed in 1975 by a strong French expedition).

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