Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 9


The final part of our report on Greenland 2008 covers the fabulous rock climbing found in the Tasermiut Fjord of Cape Farewell. In the Hermelndal there were hard new routes on the big faces of Tininnertuup II, III and IV, the Hermelnbjerg and Ketil Pyramid, one-day, on sight, free ascents on Nalumasortoq and Ulamertorssuaq, and the second overall, but first free ascent of Stupid White Man on Nalumasortoq. There is also a history of climbing from the upper Tasermiut Fjord, an attempt at a new route on the South Face of Apostelens Tommelfinger, and the second ascent of the Catalan Route on the West Face of Ketil.

Included are the East Faces of Tininnertuup II, III and IV, the North West Face of Hermelnbjerg, the South Face of Apostelens Tommelfinger, plus panoramas and a sketch map of the region around the upper Tasermiut. There are also photodiagrams of the South Face of Ketil Pyramid and Ulamertorssuaq.



Upper Tasermiut Fjord Hermelndal
The peaks east of the head of the Tasermiut Fjord were first explored in the 1960s and start of the 1970s (see The History, below), but since that time there appears to have been little or no activity in this area of alpine summits and granite walls. It was a visit to the Hermelndal (the generally snow-free valley running south from near the lower reaches of the Sermitsiaq Glacier) in 2002 that sparked off renewed interest. In 2008 three parties visited the area: a seven man Anglo-German team (Ged Desforges, Ruben Gutzat, Dan McManus, Es Tresidder, Tom Spreyer, Tony Stone and James Vybiral), which established one of the finest series of hard free rock routes achieved in Greenland during recent years; the Slovenian couple Andrej and Tanja Grmovsek, and the British couple Sarah and Tony Whitehouse. All had their base camps below the Hermelnbjerg, well up valley from the fjord.


Tinninertuup II
Dan McManus and Es Tresidder kicked off a series of impressive routes on Tinninertuup II (1,511m) by climbing the crest of the central pillar on the East Face. From the valley they assumed this line would require full big wall tactics, so initially only went for a 'look'. After c200m of soloing and moving together on the lower slabs, they reached the start of steeper ground. Here, they were surprised to find a succession of sustained but free-climbable pitches on generally first-rate granite. Pitch 4 passed through a couple of bands of poor rock at E4 5c, while above, the crux pitch over a roof went at E5 6a. After pitch eight the climbing became more reasonable and after pitch 12 only scrambling remained to the summit. They reached the top 14 hours after setting out and relaxed with a brew in the twilight before descending north to the col between II and I, and then down the couloir on the North East Face (generally scrambling with a few rappels). A few days in the valley being bitten alive by mosquitoes and consuming copious amounts of anti-histamine led to the route being named Piriton Pillar (700m: E5 6a).

1 2 3 4

The East Pillar of Tininnertuup II with (1) War Cry (Desforges/Spreyer/Stone, 2008: 700m: E5 6a), (2) Scorpion Grooves (Desforges/Spreyer, 2008: 700m: E3 5c), (3) Flying Viking (Grmovsek/Grmovsek, 2008: 700m: 1,200m of climbing: VIII), (4) Piriton Pillar (McManus/Tresidder, 2008: 700m: E5 6a), and (5) Anglo Bavarian Direct (Gutzat/Vybiral, 2008: 700m: E2). (6) The original ascent (Irish expedition, 1971) climbed behind the right skyline (North West Ridge) from the col between Tininnertuups II and I. ANDREJ GRMOVSEK



Dan McManus starting the crux pitch (E5 6a) of Piriton Pillar. ES TRESIDDER

The East Face of Tininnertuup III (1,491m) with (1) Nalunaq (Grmovsek/Grmovsek, 2008: 900m: 23 pitches: VII/VII+) and (2) Head in the Clouds/Anglo-Bavarian Direct (Gutzat/Stone/Vybiral - Gutzat/Vybiral, 2008: 650m: E1). (3) The original 1971 Irish ascent climbed the North West Ridge (right skyline) via an approach up the North East Couloir between Tininnertuups II and III (UIAA IV). ANDREJ GRMOVSEK


Three days later, on the 24th July, Desforges and Spreyer climbed a line on the left flank of Piriton Pillar, linking features that appeared impossible from the valley. Every pitch offered superb free climbing. Tired at the end of the day but believing the route was in the bag, they were suddenly confronted with a intricate wall followed by a fierce off-width before the summit could be gained. The 700m Scorpion Grooves was E3 5c. On the 31st July Gutzat and Vybiral added an Anglo-Bavarian Direct to the valley by climbing the initial slabs of Piriton Pillar and then moving right to take a parallel line up the flank at E2. The 700m route, following a series of cracks and corners, was surprisingly bold. At the same time Desforges, Spreyer and Stone were at grips with a direct line to the left of Scorpion Grooves (and joining it for the top section). This gave sustained climbing with two pitches of E5 6a and one of E4 6a. The crux gave Stone some desperate bridging on smooth granite with spaced gear. It moved Desforges to exclaim it was the most impressive lead he'd ever seen. Stone's celebratory bellows of choice expletives as he pulled through the final overhang were heard at base camp and prompted the name of the route; War Cry (700m: E5 6a) All this activity left barely enough room for Andrej and Tanya Grmovsek to add their own contribution on the 10th August. Flying Viking (1,200m of climbing: UIAA VIII) lies between Scorpion Grooves and Piriton Pillar, sharing a little common ground with the former at around half height. Ten pitches led to a big ledge, where the difficulties began. The remaining 12 pitches to the summit gave perfect crack climbing on granite comparable to the best the Mont Blanc Massif has to offer. And as with the British team, the Slovenians used only natural gear, leaving their lines as adventurous for others as they were to them.

Tinninertuup III
The first ascent on Tinninertuup III (1,491m) in 2008 was made by Ruben Gutzat, Tony Stone and James Vybiral, who climbed the slabby face right of the impressive central pillar on the East Face to create Head in the Clouds. Much of the climbing was relatively easy before two steeper pitches of British HVS led to the summit ridge. The 650m route had an overall Alpine grade of AD. Later, Gutzat and Vybiral returned to this same part of the wall, adding Anglo-Bavarian Direct (650m: British E1). This crosses Head in the Clouds, and although the climbing was initially very poor, it was distinctly better in the upper section, which is a direct variant to Head in the Clouds. Because of this, the pair recommends that future parties combine the first half of Head in the Clouds with the second half of Anglo-Bavarian Direct. After their ascents in the Ketil-Ulamertorssuaq Group, reported elsewhere, Andrej and Tanya Grmovsek persuaded a local miner, who had come to collect Polish climbers, to ferry them to the head of the fjord, from where they accessed the Hermelndal and quickly ascertained that the British party had left perhaps only one major line untouched. The central pillar on the East Face of Tininnertuup III had already been attempted by Desforges and Spreyer, who were disappointed by

2 1


the poor quality rock and mud chocked cracks (the British team felt the rock on this peak to be almost universally poor and friable). Sections of loose ground no doubt present less of a problem to home-grown Slovenians and the Grmoveks completed the 900m line in a day - the 3rd August naming it Nalunaq (UIAA VII/VII+). The pillar turned out to be much bigger than it appeared from the ground and the pair climbed 23 pitches (1,250m of climbing) to gain the summit, from where they descended the Original 1971 Irish route in the unpleasantly loose gully on the East Face between Tinninertuup II and III (for the first ascensionists this was largely a snow couloir followed by an ascent of the North West Ridge).

3 L

The 1,000m North East Face of Tininnertuup IV (1,725m). (1) Whitehouse attempt (Whitehouse/Whitehouse, 2008: seven pitches: E5 5c/6a: independent belay points marked). (2) Freeway (Whitehouse/Whitehouse, 2007 and '08, as far as the big ledge on 3: c12 pitches: E3 5b/5c: independent belay points marked). (3) Rapakivi Road (Jacobsson/Knutsson, 2004: 1,000m: 1,300m of climbing and 27/28 pitches: 5.11 and A2+: free climbed using variants in 2008 at E3 5c). (4) Qivitooq (Blixt/Krane/Massih, 2002: 1,000m: 7a+ and A2). (L) marks the big ledge at c500m. TONY WHITEHOUSE

Tinninertuup IV
In the summer of 2007 Sarah and Tony Whitehouse, based in the Hermelndal, attempted to climb a major variation to the Swedish route, Rapakivi Road (Jacobsson/Knutsson, 2004: 1,000m: 28 pitches: 5.11 and A2+) on the East Face of Tinninertuup IV (1,725m). Using fixed rope, the pair attempted to climb the prominent left-facing corner system directly above the belay on pitch three, the point where the original route moves right and surmounts a roof on aid. Bad weather forced an unsuccessful conclusion but the pair returned early in 2008 for a second attempt. Again, using fixed rope, the Whitehouses managed to climb four or five difficult independent pitches before re-joining Rapakavi Road, which they followed for a further five pitches to just below the halfway ledge. They named their free variant Freeway (British E3 5c) but as they only had three fine days of weather in three weeks, were unable to continue further up the face. The two left the valley for Nanortalik on a prearranged pick up, but later returned to try the big arch to the left of Freeway. After re-climbing the first three pitches of Rapakivi Road, they branched left and climbed four new pitches, the first, which had very little gear, rated British E5 5c/6a. They were unable to complete a fifth independent pitch due to meltwater. The Whitehouses report that in 2008 Greenland had a very snowy winter but cold dry spring: they had to walk across rocky ground all the way from their campsite in the Hermelndal to the foot of the wall, whereas in 2007 this journey had been over snowfields. Rivers seemed much higher, and several hardcore trekkers told them that river crossings in the region were either impossible or becoming dangerous. Freeway provided the link to an all free ascent of Rapakavi Road. Relatively early during their stay in the valley Ruben Gutzat and Tony Stone climbed the first three pitches of Rapakavi, then the next couple or so of Freeway (E2 5b), before traversing right to re-join Rapakavi, which they followed to the summit in an almost continuous ascent of 25 hours (they took a short break through the twilight hours). The pair climbed every pitch free and on-sight, found the quality of climbing to be excellent, the crux a pitch of hard E3 5c four pitches above the halfway ledge, and much sustained climbing at a slightly easier standard. Remarkably, despite a total of 27 pitches and 1,300m of climbing, Gutzat claimed that this was the first trad route he'd ever climbed.



E 1 2

The Hermelnbjerg from the north west. (A) is the West Top (c1,792m), while (B) is the Main Summit (1,912m). Until recently, the hanging glacier/snowfield down to the left descended all the way to the valley. (1) Alle vil til Himmelen, men ingen vil do (Halkjelsvik/Hetland/Mordal/Nessa, 2005: 1.000m to the West Top: 1,300m of climbing in 26 pitches: Norwegian 6+ [F6a+] and A2). (2) Ramblin' Man (McManus/Tresidder, 2008: 1,000m to the West Top: 1,200m of climbing: British E5 6b). (E) is the Eye. McManus and Tresidder also attempted the connecting ridge to the Main Summit but retreated due to appalling rock. The 1971 first ascent route climbs the opposite side of the mountain. ES TRESIDDER


Es Tresidder following a fine pitch in the middle of the Eye on Ramblin' Man, North West Pillar of the Hermelnbjerg. ES TRESIDDER COLLECTION


The main event in the valley was the first ascent of the North West Pillar of the Hermelnbjerg (1,912m) by Dan McManus and Es Tresidder. The pillar boasts a formation at about one-third height that the pair named the Eye - a huge circular area of very steep corners and artes that would most likely provide the crux of the route. The first attempt failed near the top of the Eye after Tresidder took a fall and it was discovered that their planned exit from this feature was going to be far too bold. They returned on the 27th July and, already familiar with the ground, made faster progress, juggling the leading to leave McManus fresh for the crux section. After an initial section of soloing or moving together roped, the pair crossed a hard corner (E4 6b) to reach the base of the Eye. Four pitches through this feature, finishing with an amazing corner and a leftward exit through the capping roof, only made possible by a hidden hold (the crux E5 6b), led onto unknown ground above. The climbers were immediately presented with a stiff off-width (Friends 5 and 6), then a section of bold E5 6a to reach somewhat easier terrain. This was interrupted by a very loose and serious pitch of E4 5b, but after 18 hours and 1,000m of climbing the pair reached a good ledge they had noted from the valley. Here, they were able to melt snow, eat, and get a few hours' sleep huddled under one sleeping bag. Next morning four cold pitches (one of E2), following by an easy 40m gully brought them to the sunny summit ridge, from where they scrambled 200m to Hermelnbjerg's West Top (c1,792m), completing the 1,000m Ramblin Man (1,200m of climbing: E5 6b). From here, McManus and Tresidder scrambled north east down a steep scree and boulder slope to a hanging snowy valley, where they turned left (west) and returned to the Hermelndal. The final drop into the Hermelndal was a moderately steep and straightforward snow slope in 1971, and most likely the same in 2005, when it

was descended by Norwegians (see below). However, in the last few years glacier retreat has exposed smooth slabs, which in 2008 required four rappels (and in ascent four pitches of HVS). Conscious that the most spectacular summit in the area, the main summit of the Hermelnbjerg, had not been visited for 37 years, McManus and Tresidder returned later in the trip to remedy the situation by attempting the West Ridge. The pair reversed their route of descent, climbing the four pitches of HVS that the glacier had previously covered and then ascending the long concave scree and boulder slope (snow in 2005 for the Norwegians) to reach the lowest point on the ridge connecting the West Top with the Main Summit. From here they scrambled unroped along the ridge (at this point they had not changed out of their approach shoes) until they came upon a very old Cassin peg with bleached rappel cord. The Irish did not attempt this ridge, and the origins of the retreat anchor remain something of a mystery, though not the reason for its placement. A little above the peg the two quickly discovered the reason for failure: a long section of narrow, horizontal ridge that appeared to be made of gravel mixed with Weetabix. It was possible to make progress cheval, but the rock vibrated and the whole experience was terrifying. They retreated, rappelling the way they had come, and advised Gutzat and Stone, who were also interested in the summit, that they would be better trying to repeat the original 1971 Irish Route up the North East Ridge. Gutzat and Stone did this on the last possible day before the pre-arranged pick-up back at the Tasermiut Fjord. They reached the summit on the 10th August in a day from base camp, finding exceptional and spectacular climbing up to E1, as well as many of the original rappel anchors. The total ascent from base camp was 1,500m, though the ridge itself, which rises from an obvious breche, is 650m and TD. Gutzat and Stone made it back down the ridge and part way home to base camp before bivouacking.

North East of the Tasermiut Apostelens Tommelfinger

In 2003, Steffan Laetsch, Frank Polte, Jens and Michael Richter from Germany attempted a new route on the South Face of Apostelens Tommelfinger (2,300m). This impressive rock peak lies on the north side of the Lindenows, a long fjord penetrating inland from the East Coast a little to the north east of the Cathedral-Hermelnbjerg Group. The Apostle's Thumb, far from being a single tower as the name would imply, is actually a broad complex mountain with three summits of almost equal altitude, surrounded on all sides by huge, steep rock walls. The four Germans climbed an estimated 1,600m, with difficulties up to 6c+, A2 and 45, to a point thought to be just 20m below the summit icefield. At this moment a big storm arrived and they retreated to a portaledge camp, hoping to return and finish the job. During the night, a rock came through the tent and broke Michael Richter's foot. The team had a hard time descending with the stricken climber and left most of their gear on the wall. As reported in MARCH 2008 INFO, 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, meant he was unable to reach the peak. In 2008, Polte and Richter were helicoptered into the fjord, and made two attempts to finish the route. On the second they made rapid progress to the start of the headwall at about half-height, only to find the lower part of a pillar, climbed on their 2003 attempt, badly damaged by rockfall. The top of the pillar had huge cracks and looked very unstable: it also appeared to have moved sideways. They decided to retreat. Comparing photos on their return, they realized a 40m high and 10m wide section had moved, and a huge flake had departed to leave a chimney. Their helicopter pilot was able to fly to the summit, and then to a point quite close to the 2003 high point. Richter could see that only 10m of difficulties remained, after which 15m of moderate ground led to the top of the rock section and start of an easy stroll to the summit.

Another view of the Hermelnbjerg, this time from a more northerly direction. Only the c1,792m West Top is visible, the Main Summit hidden behind. (1) Alle vil til Himmelen, men ingen vil do (Halkjelsvik/Hetland/Mordal/Nessa, 2005: 1.000m to the West Top: 1,300m of climbing in 26 pitches, Norwegian 6+ [F6a+] and A2). (2) Ramblin' Man (McManus/Tresidder, 2008: 1,000m to the West Top: 1,200m of climbing: British E5 6b). (E) is the Eye. Descent from the West Top was via a large, steep scree (formerly snow) slope behind the left skyline, then back across the obvious col and down the snowfield and glaciated slabs below to the valley. ES TRESIDDER


Jens Richter (left) and Frank Polte stand in front of the South Face of Apostelens Tommelfinger (2,300m). The route attempted in 2003 (to within 25m of the summit snow cap) and again in 2008 is marked. FRANK POLTE

Looking east down the Lindenows Fjord from the fringes of the ice cap. The black outline of Apostelens Tommelfinger (2,300m) is clearly visible right of centre, while the high peak on the left is the triple-summited Trident (2,481m). JOSS LYNAM

The Minster (1,870m) from the west south west. This fine peak was eventually climbed in 1971 via a steep line just behind the left skyline (North Pillar: ED1: UIAA VI and A2). Two previous attempts on the West Pillar (falling to the horizontal snow shoulder) had failed, the best reaching a point c200m below the summit. The peak does not appear to have received a second ascent and many hard unclimbed lines remain. LINDSAY GRIFFIN


The 1971 sketch map of the area between the Tasermiut and Lindenows Fjords

The History
The first to climb any peaks in this region was a three-man primarily scientific expedition in 1961 led by Roger Wallis. This spent nearly five months in Greenland with Wallis and M Rhodes operating in the northern and middle Tasermiut for a full 11 weeks. M Kelly, Rhodes and Wallis climbed two major peaks: Akerna (1,931m, north east of the Minster) and Lapworth (1,761m, west of Cathedral). They also climbed 1,412m Sermitsiaq Qattaat and two hills/peaks from the eastern shore of the Tasermiut, below the Tininnertuup group. This expedition also climbed four peaks on the opposite (west) side of the fjord. Joss Lynam led the first Irish Greenland Expedition in 1968, the team comprising Joe Bent, Frank Doherty, Paul Hill, Noel Lynch, Dougie Milnes and Ken Price. Unfortunately, they lost much time ice bound on the journey to Nanortalik but eventually established base camp on the eastern shores of the upper Tasermiut at a spot known as Kavdlukasik near the snout of the Sermitsiaq Glacier. Doherty and Hill made the first ascent of Francisbjerg (1,738m) from where they had a good view of the South East Ridge of the Cathedral (the altitude of this peak is variously quoted as 2,000m or 1,961m). This information proved useful, as Lynch and Price were later able to follow the ridge, which gave c500m of climbing, to the summit, one of the most impressive in the area. The crux was a chimney near the top. Later, Bent, Hill and Lynam made the first ascent of Fredricksbjerg (1,804m) almost due north of the Minster. Bent with Lynam and Hill with Price climbed the West Summit of Tent Peak (the East Summit is generally marked with the spot height of 1,967m). The team also tried the West Pillar of the Minster, retreating c200m from the top, and Tininnertuup I from the west. Joss Lynam returned in 1971, leading a largely different team (S Billane, Tim Cashman, Jim Colgan, George Garrett, Lindsay Griffin, Tom Hand, Dougie Milnes, Shay Nolan, Denis Rankin and Christie Rice), this time accessing the area relatively quickly (using a helicopter to reach Nanortalik) but experiencing only eight fine days out of the 30 spent in the region. Like the 1968 expedition, the team operated from a base camp on the shores of the Tasermiut. The main thrust for the majority of expedition members was the first ascent of the complex Apostelens Tommelfinger (the Apostle's Thumb) above the Lindenows Fjord. This attempt, which involved establishing camps across the tail end of the ice cap, was abandoned when they found a plush 16-man French expedition already in-situ. The Irish switched to the nearby unclimbed 2,401m Trident, west of the Apostelens, but the summit attempt failed when a member was injured in a crevasse fall. However, during the approach to the Lindenows they did climb Serpent Peak and reach the summit ridge of Tent Peak East. In the meantime Billane, Griffin, Milnes and Rice were operating closer to the Tasermiut. After an attempt by all four on the West Pillar of the Minster (1,870m) failed due to bad rock not too far below the summit, Milnes and Rice made the first ascent via the very steep North Pillar (ED1: UIAA VI and A2), while Billane and Griffin made the first ascent of the Cathedral's North Ridge (ED1: UIAA VI: 17 hours with one bivouac), rappelling the South West Face to the glacier. Billane and Griffin, after inspecting other possibilities on the mountain, made the first ascent of the

Hermelnbjerg via the North East Ridge (TD: UIAA VI). They left base camp late afternoon, approached through the night and began climbing the ridge after dawn. After reaching the summit, they rappelled their ascent route and bivouacked below the ridge on the walk back to base. There appears to have been no known activity on the Hermelnbjerg until 2005, when Norwegians Rune Halkjelsvik, Lars Helland, Anders Mordal and Lars Nessa made the first ascent of the North West Face via a chimney/fault line towards the left. They climbed 26 pitches (1,200m) in capsule style at about British E2 (or F6a+) and A2 to reach the West Top and complete Alle vil til Himmelen, men ingen vil do. From this point they made five rappels to snow slopes on the North Flank of the mountain, descended these to a hanging valley and returned south west to the Hermelndal. Wet conditions forced the use of aid, though the Norwegians felt the route would easily go free in the dry. Towards the end of the 1971 expedition the Irish team turned to the five Tininnertuup peaks (T 1, 1,440m; T 2, 1,511m; T III, 1,491m: T IV, 1,725m; T V, 1,706m) which line the western side of the Hermelndal. For want of a better name (the local name of Tininnertuup was not known at the time) they had been unimaginatively named the Aiguilles in 1968: in 1971 the highest summit, T IV, was dubbed Aurora Borealis. First to be climbed was T III by Lynam and Rankin, who climbed the North East Couloir (between II and III) and North West Ridge at UIAA IV. Billane and Griffin climbed both T I (via the South Ridge) and T II (via the North West Ridge) by the North East Couloir to the gap between the two (UIAA II). T IV and T V were climbed from the west, the former via the long West Ridge and South West Face by Hand, Nolan, Rankin and Rice (mainly IV but with a difficult section of UIAA VI close to the summit), and the latter by Rice and Milnes at UIAA IV. The climbers noted great possibilities for technical ascents on the pillars overlooking the Hermelndal. Whether any of these peaks have been repeated since is not known, but the first technical ascent from the Hermelndal came in 2002, when Marten Blixt, Erik Massih, and Bjorn Andreas Krane climbed the magnificent prow forming the 1,000m-high East Pillar of T IV. Their resulting route, Qivtooq, gave pitches of 7a+ and A2. This ascent suddenly awakened Scandinavians to the potential of a longforgotten valley, and in 2004 Swedes, Martin Jacobsson and Ola Knutsson, added a second route to the East Face of T IV, when they put up Rapakavi Road on the inset face left of the prow of Qivtooq. The pair climbed capsule style in seven days at 5.11 and A2+, finishing up the far (west) side of the peak on easy broken ground to the needle-sharp summit. Rapakavi is the name of the fabulous granite found in this region. Let's now return to the Apostle's Thumb, one of the highest peaks in South East Greenland. The 1971 French expedition (from the Paris-Chamonix section of the French Alpine Club) was helicoptered to the glacier ice south of the Cathedral and from there established camps towards the Lindenows. Before finally attempting the Thumb they climbed the Trident and Pt 2,190m to its south east. They then attempted the South Face of the Thumb leading to Pt 2,200m but quite close to the summit one member fell and fractured his knee. The subsequent evacuation was complex, two other members also sustained injuries, and rescue eventually came in the form of a helicopter on board a ship diverted into the Lindenows. Unfortunately, this ship was also carrying a Danish consulate, and this incident most probably contributed to the ensuing major re-assessment of insurance cover needed by expeditions climbing in the area. Franco di Fachinetti led a 10-man team to the South West Face in 1973. They sieged a line to within just 60m of the top with pitches of UIAA V and V+ but were driven back from the last overhanging section by a severe storm. It was left to a strong French team, comprising Maurice Barrard, Pierre Henri Feuillet, Dominique Marchal, Georges Narbaud, Yves Payrau, Michel Pell and Grard Vellay, to make the first ascent in July 1975 via a difficult 1,600m rock route up the South Pillar and Ridge. They found only five pitches of poor rock. In 1976, another French team, this time led by Marceau Agier made the second ascent, most likely via a different line. In 1978 Jean Claude Marmier led a 12-member French team to the Lindenows, arriving at the foot of the Thumb by helicopter. They climbed several peaks by difficult routes as well as making the first ascent of the 1,300m South East Couloir of the Thumb (difficult mixed climbing), followed by a descent of the snowy North Couloir. Later, they made a two-day first ascent of a difficult rock route on the 1,300m South East Face, and also attempted a two-week siege of the North East Face, 1,400m of hard rock, retreating in bad weather 300m below the top.



1 2 3


Ketil Pyramid seen from the south. The unclimbed, slabby, South West Face is separated from the steeper, cleaner, c400m South Face by (1) South Pillar (Swiss, c1984: 11 pitches: VI+). On the South Face lie (2) Polish Route (Ciesielski/Stefanski/Zakrzewski, 2008: 450m of climbing: 6c), (3) Lost Friends (Tivadar, solo, 2004: 10 pitches: V 5.10a A3c) and (4) Grmoland (Grmovsek/Grmovsek, 2008: 370m of climbing: VII+). ANDREJ GRMOVSEK

In 1995, in the sixth expedition to the mountain, a strong six-man Austrian team successfully climbed the 1,400m North East Face in more than 40 pitches. Ropes were fixed to three-quarters height and a portaledge used for the final push. At least 30 pitches were either VI, VII, or involved long sections of A3.

Lower Tasermiut - Ketil Group

On the popular big walls of the Ketil Group there were several ascents and unsuccessful attempts but the most significant climbs were made by Poles and Slovenians.

Wojciech Kurz, Artur Magiera and Pawe Wycislik from Poland arrived in the area intent on free climbing existing big wall routes. They first planned to make the second overall and first free ascent of Anissa (Eduardo Alonso/David Jonglez, 2000: 1,200m: 6b+ obl and A3: stopped on the summit ridge) on the West Face of 2,010m Ketil (the Shield). However, after climbing the first four pitches to reach a series of roofs, they discovered it was impossible for them to free climb through them. The first ascensionists climbed only three pitches on aid, but these occur in the first six: the rest is sustained slab climbing at 6a and 6b. As the Poles had not come for extensive aid climbing, they retreated and turned instead to the

Tanja Grmovsek on the diagonal ramp of Grmoland (370m of climbing: VII+), South Face of Ketil Pyramid (c1,600m). Behind is Nalumasortoq (2,045m), with the c700m-high Left and Central Pillars clearly visible in profile. The lower, dark spire in front of these is sometimes referred to as Little Nalum. The big slabby face behind the pillars (and to the left) is believed to be unclimbed. ANDREJ GRMOVSEK


Not so much climbing, more hard work. One of the wide cracks overcome during the first free ascent of Stupid White Man (Bansch/Becher/Laetsch, 2007: 640m: 6b and A1: all free in 2008 at 5.12b). MACIEK CIESIELSKI

Ketil Pyramid
Ketil Pyramid (c1,600m) is the relatively small spire one kilometre south west of Ketil's main summit. It is accessed from the Uiluit Qaqa Valley and was probably first climbed in 1960 by Wally Keay and Roger Wallis via the easy East Face (300m: UIAA III). From the south the pyramid presents an unclimbed, slabby (and lichenous) South West Face, and a steeper, cleaner, South Face, which is c400m high. Between the two lies the South Pillar, climbed by Swiss in the early 1980s (although not confirmed, this is believed to be the 1984 Dalphin-Piola expedition). The route was repeated by the 1987 Danish-Swedish party, reported above, and found to give 11 pitches of fine sustained climbing from V to VI+. In 2004 the German Thomas Tivadar made the first ascent of the South Face via the 425m (10-pitch) Lost Friends (V 5.10a A3c). Tivadar climbed solo and completed the route over 18 days, though much of that was spent sitting out bad weather. In 2008 two routes were added to the South Face. First, on the 26th July, was Grmoland (370m of climbing: VII+) by Andrej and Tanja Grmovsek. The pair followed an ascending right to left line across the face, finishing up similar ground to the Swiss Route. The climbing was good quality, very enjoyable, and in a fine position. Shortly after, the Poles Maciek Ciesielski, Jurek Stefanski and Wawrzyniec "Wawa" Zakrzewski added their own partial new route. This starts towards the left side of the South Face and slants up left to join the South Pillar at a little below half-height. From here they climbed similar ground to the Swiss Route, at one point climbing two pitches across slabs where they found in-situ bolts. The Polish Route was 450m in length and around 6c.

There were no new routes on Nalumasortoq (2,045m) during 2008 but some important free ascents. On the 29th July Andrej and Tanja Grmovsek made a oneday free ascent of the 1995 British Route (Anderson/Dring/Dring/Tatersall: British E4 and A2). The two Slovenians started up the route in a light drizzle: the rock is so steep on Nalu that most of the face stayed dry. They climbed fast in deteriorating weather but were pleasantly surprised to have the rain stop just as they reached the crux cracks high on the route. The pair reached the top in 19 pitches after climbing for only 10 hours. Andrej led every pitch free and on-sight. The British Route was the first to be climbed on any of the three pillars of Nalu and did not have a second ascent until 2002, when it was climbed in 18 hours by Micah Dash, John Dickey and Evan Stevens at 5.11 with a bit of aid. The following year and on their third attempt, Nathan Martin and Timmy O'Neil, sharing leads, climbed the line all free at 5.12+ in 18 pitches, none easier than 5.10. A day or two before the Grmovseks climbed Nalu, Ciesielski, Stefanski and Zakrzewski, made the first free ascent of Stupid White Man (Bansch/Becher/Laetsch, 2007: 640m: 6b and A1), which crosses the 1996 British route Umwelten (Thomas/Turner: British E5 and A1) at several points. In 2007 Ciesielski and Zakrzewski made three attempts to free climb the route, accomplishing the first nine pitches (the hardest) at difficulties up to 5.12b, before driven away by bad weather. This time they climbed the route in a single 15-hour push. Once above the first nine pitches, which follow a logical system of cracks and chimneys, and give good climbing on sound granite, the route was not as pleasant. They were able to climb the following nine pitches to the top of the wall on sight. These are easier (5.11 at most), somewhat looser, and less logical: on this section the route often lies no more than 15m to one side of Umwelten, and crosses it at the 12th and 15th belay. Two teams made an effort to free climb the 2000 Japanese route, Life is Beautiful (Suzuki/Yamaoka: 600m: 5.9 and A2+) on the left side of the Left Pillar. The Poles Kurz, Magiera and Wycislik, after extensive gardening, climbed the first two pitches at UIAA VII and VIII- before leaving in bad weather. Martin Jakobsson and Erik Massih did slightly better, but were again thwarted by bad weather (Massih returned in 2009 to make the free ascent, an account of which will be reported in a future INFO).


unrepeated 1984 Catalan Route (Martin/Nicolau/Ortega/Verdaquer: 1,200m: UIAA VI and A3). The first two-thirds of this route has a good topo, made by a Danish-Swedish team (Michael Hjorth, Uffe Mortensen, Magnus Nilsson and Soren Smidt) that in 1987 climbed the route to the top of pitch 23 before retreating in a storm (they had first tried what was to become Anissa, but retreated due to loose rock). The Poles climbed in alpine style, making their first bivouac at the top of pitch 20, their second on the summit ridge, and their third and last during the descent. There were 33 roped pitches to reach the summit ridge, after which 600m of scrambling along the crest led to the highest point. The team was forced to use rest points on a few of the pitches and on pitch 14 (5 and A1) and pitch 16 (5 and A2), where the route traverses below and then crosses large roofs, they were unable to dispense with the aid. The crux free pitch was 12 (originally UIAA V and A0) at 6c+. This was the second overall and first alpine-style ascent of the route. Ketil was the scene of the first real big wall route in the Tasermiut region, when in 1974 Barrard, Marchal, Narbeaud, Payrau and Velley from a large French expedition climbed the left side of the West Face in 33 pitches. The route has been repeated several times and difficulties currently assessed as 6c and A2. The Catalan Route climbs the first third or so of the French Route before moving right and ascending the face through a prominent white rock scar. The rock fall that caused this scar occurred sometime after the original climb (and the 1987 attempt), and there had been some debate as to how it might affect a repeat ascent.

At least two parties climbed the quasi-classic War and Poetry on 1,830m Ulamertorssuaq. Like its neighbour Moby Dick, this route is one of the best above the Tasermiut Fjord, offering superb and difficult free climbing. However, it


is generally considered to be identical to the Geneva Diedre except for five - seven pitches. The in-situ belays are excellent, making for a straightforward descent. The c1,000m Geneva Diedre was climbed in 1983 by the Swiss Dalphin, Piola, Probost and Wiestlibach at 6b and A4. In 1998 it was repeated, with variations, by Americans Bechtel, Bechtel, Lilygren, Mallamo, Model, Piana and Skinner, who worked on the line to create an all free route at 5.12c. Controversially, they renamed it, calling their ascent War and Poetry. On the 22nd July the Grmovseks and the three Poles, Ciesielski, Stefanski and Zakrzewski, started up the route with the Poles in front. The Grmovseks spent the short night resting on a good ledge at the top of pitch 22. The Poles were rather more unfortunate. They climbed one pitch further, as their topo suggested the last good ledge before the summit was at the top of pitch 23. In fact the good ledges are on the 26th and 27th belays (the route is about 32 pitches long). The three spent a miserable night on a pathetic ledge, suffering in the cold and increasing wind. Next morning (3am) they allowed the Grmovseks to forge ahead in icy and cloudy conditions. Fortunately, the weather improved and both parties reached the summit. Andrej Grmovsek had led every pitch free and on-sight (the crux is UIAA IX- or 7b+), the first time that this has been done by a single person. The Poles had to redpoint the 17th pitch (7b+) and the 24th pitch (7b) but climbed the rest clean, for them the hardest pitch of the second day being an off width graded 5.10d/6b. Grmovsek feels that with all the major lines on Ulamertorssuaq now climbed, the next stage in its development is to make alpine-style free ascents of the existing routes; one-push ascents from a twomember team with all pitches climbed free by either one or both members. War and Poetry was also attempted by Kurz, Magiera and Wycislik. They were unable to free climb Pitch 26 and rather than use aid, decided to retreat. INFO: MaciekCiesielski/Andrej Grmovsek/Artur Magiera/Erik Massih/Es Tresidder/Tony Whitehouse and the reference source of the American Alpine Journal

Andrej and Tanja Grmovsek sit below the huge barrel of Ulamertorssuaq (1,830m). Marked is the line of the c1,000m Geneva Diedre/War and Poetry (Dalphin/Piola/Probost/Wiestlibach, 1983: 6b and A4: free climbed with some variants in 1998 at 5.12c by Bechtel/Bechtel/Lilygren/Mallamo/Model/Piana/Skinner). ANDREJ GRMOVSEK


Tony Stone leading the crux pitch of War Cry (E5 6a) on the East Pillar of Tininnertuup II. TOM SPREYER

Correction December 2009

A glaring error. The Nanga Parbat Group is in the Western Himalaya not the Karakoram.

Andrej Grmovsek on pitch 19 (5.11) of War and Poetry during the first on-sight ascent by a single climber.