American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Ketil (2,010m), south face, Turbo; Ulamertorssuaq North (1,830m), northwest face, Keep Panic, Please

South Greenland, Cape Farewell Region, Tasermiut Fjord

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Vlado Linek
  • Climb Year: 2012
  • Publication Year: 2013

From June 20 to July 23, Tomas Brt (Czech), Jan Smolen, and I (both Slovak) visited Tasermiut Fjord and enjoyed largely excellent weather, so different from my first visit in 1998, when I experienced only a few days of sunshine.

Our first aim was to climb a new line on the 1,200m high south face of Ketil. Starting early on June 23 we followed an obvious rightward slanting chimney system (UIAA II-III), finding two belays that were most likely on the 1974 Austrian Route (the original route to the summit of Ketil). The chimney leads toward the right edge of the face, but near its top we broke left and climbed direct, crossing the Austrian Route where it slants back left up the south face. In 19 hours we climbed 13 pitches, the hardest, pitch 11, was a finger crack of UIAA VIII+.

After a pleasant bivouac on a good ledge we continued up corners and offwidths to an overhanging wet chimney. Here, we almost certainly followed the 2004 French route, Clémence de l’Ogre, for several pitches. We decided to climb left of the chimney, aiding a 15m wet finger crack at A2. We then continued up easier, less vertical ground until, at 9:30 p.m., after having climbed eight pitches that day, we reached a ledge below the headwall. We made our second bivouac here and reached the summit at noon the following day. We named the route Turbo (1,450m of climbing, 25 pitches, VIII+ A2) and placed only one bolt. The same day we rappelled the line of the French route, using their in situ anchors.

After four days of rest we concentrated on our main goal, the virgin 1,100m northwest face of Ulamertorssuaq’s north summit. On July 1 we moved gear to the base of the wall and fixed four pitches, the last being the hardest with runout climbing at VIII. Next day we reached the end of the ropes with five days of food and then climbed until 10:30 p.m., sleeping on a portaledge at the top of pitch nine. On the following day we climbed six pitches to a large overhang, where the weather deteriorated and we spent the next three days in the ledge, waiting for better conditions. The fourth night proved critical: The rain was so strong that even the large overhang failed to shield us from the water.

On July 7 a strong wind dispersed the weather and we set out in sun, finding the moss- and lichen- covered wall above very wet. The crux proved to be an offwidth (VIII) on pitch 20. After this the climbing got easier and we reached the summit, probably only the second team to do so, at 8:50 p.m. [Editor’s note: Agier, Amy, Lemoine, Lemoine, and Walter made the first ascent in 1975 via the east couloir and east ridge, 900m, D. In 1998 Ian Parsons and Tony Penning climbed the prominent 700m pillar at the base of the east ridge—James Hopkins Pillar—but did not continue to the summit]. At 2 a.m. we regained the portaledge, and the same day made a free ascent of pitch 17, where Smolen had fallen before. As the rain returned we descended to base camp. We named the route Keep Panic, Please (1,270m, 26 pitches, VIII redpoint). We used no protection bolts but placed some for belays.

Vlado Linek, JAMES, Slovakia

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