Northwest Ren Land, Various Ascents

North America, Greenland, Ren Land
Author: Dominic Southgate. Climb Year: 2009. Publication Year: 2010.

Chris Larvin, Jonny Phillips, Rob Porter, and I, from Imperial College London, arrived at Constable Pynt in early August, only to find that much of our equipment and food, which we had freighted by sea, had not arrived. In fact, after investigation, we found it had not left Copenhagen. The carrier was at fault and agreed to fly it out. However, due to the infrequency of air flights to Constable Pynt, we were forced to wait a week.

After a few nights in an airport hangar, we relocated to the town of Scoresbysund (Ittoqqortoormiut) by boat. Here we were lucky to be given a week’s food by two girls from Oslo University, who happened to be leaving. This enabled us to spend a few days hiking in Liverpool Land. After renting two tents from Nanu Travel, we headed across the peninsula to Lillefjord and made an ascent of Trefoden (1,110m). This not only allowed us to adjust to the local terrain but also gave us our first sightings of musk oxen and arctic hares.

On return to Scoresbysund we found our freight had arrived, so the following day we headed up-fjord on a 250km boat journey to a previously unvisited area in Northwest Ren Land. The journey took around six hours, after which we spent a day ferrying loads across a glacier to establish base camp 30 minutes walk from the coast. The next day we explored the two main glaciers of the area, looking for attractive objectives.

On August 16th, for their first outing, Chris and Rob chose a mixed route up the nearest ridge east of base camp. Ascending scree, rock, snow, and ice (AD with one pitch of Scottish 4) to ca 1,700m, they reached a subsidiary summit. They were unable to continue to the main summit, which lay much farther back on the icecap. Jonny and I attempted an obvious zigzag line up Pk. 1,636m, opposite camp on the west side of the larger of the two glaciers. On our first try we failed to find a route off the far side of the glacier, due to crevasses and a 30-40m drop. Our second attempt involved a rappel and a river crossing, but we finally reached the base of the mountain and climbed it over the next two days, the 17th-18th, up scree slopes and friction slabs (British V Diff).

Chris and Rob then made a two-day exploratory trip up the length of the larger glacier and onto the ice cap, reaching a high point of ca 2,100m. In the meantime Jonny and I headed back across this glacier and up a western side valley to attempt a snow peak via a series of subsidiary glaciers. After a camp at 850m, we made our ascent on the 23rd, reaching a 1,950m summit after 1,100m of snow and ice at PD. Chris and Rob’s third outing took them to the same valley, where they climbed a similar route (snow and ice at PD) for 1,000m to reach a 1,816m summit on the ridge opposite our peak.

Jonny, Rob, and I made the final outing of the trip, attempting a route on the ridge east of the smaller of the two main glaciers. After camping at 600m, we climbed 1,000m the next day. We had to stop at ca 1,600m, short of the ridge crest and summit tower, due to snowfall making for difficult conditions on steep slabs above. Returning, we were picked up promptly by our chartered boat.

After a night’s stopover in Southeast Ren Land, where we picked up a group of Dutch climbers, we returned to Constable Pynt. Here, our final highlight was seeing a polar bear while camping at the airport, albeit through binoculars at a safe distance.

Throughout our stay the weather was mostly fine, with snow level at 1,700m, dropping to 1,200m after bad spells. Although base camp was vegetated, we had to deal with much scree elsewhere. In addition to our climbs (first ascents as far as we are aware), we took many photographs to provide information for future expeditions, and noted some good objectives. One member analyzed the geology of the region, and we studied the flora, taking specimens back to the U.K. for expert examination.

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