1975 UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS GREENLAND EXPEDITION
Climbing from Stordalens Havn in Cape Farewell Region
Introduction - Maps - Climbing History - Personal Account - Mountaineering Report - Mountains to South of Basecamp - Mountains to North of Basecamp - Mountains from Desperation Camp - Mountains from Sallies Kitchen Camp - Mountains from Hellhole Hollow - Mountains from Lost Loch Camp - Mountains on Pamiagdluk and the Islands - Mountains in the Nameless Valley of the Land of the Towers - Archaeology - Botany - Equipment Report - Food Report - Financial Report - Travel Report - Medical Report - Photo Gallery - Thanks and Acknowledgements - Later Visitors to Stordalens Havn
Mountains climbed on Pamiagdluk and Tornarssuk
PAMIAGDLUK AND THE ISLANDS
Peaks climbed by canoe parties towards the end of the expedition
Six hills were climbed on Pamiagdluk: their grades were 1 F, 3 PD, 1 AD, 1 TD. Three hills were ascended on Tornarssuk: their grades wer 1 F and 2 PD. *Asterisk against a name indicates that this person wrote the report.
Some of the mountains climbed on Pamiagdluk, from left: Pimple (39) Cambridge Peak (38) Cheetah (36) Enniware (37)
36. CHEETAH - West gully (1010m) (60 deg 8` N, 44 deg 32` W). First ascent by R.Sharples, D.Gaskell, D.Brown*, P.Gribbon and N.MacKenzie on 31st July 1975. Grade: PD. Time: 5 hours.
This is the peak at the northwest corner of Pamiagdluk - its walls drop steeply into the fjord opposite basecamp. After some canoe-ferrying operations over the two and a half miles to the island we landed safely.
Our route took us from the shore up laborious, steep scree to the base of the snow at 1600 ft, which we cramponed up before climbing a steep watercourse to the ridge. From there a leisurely stroll took us to the top, and we enjoyed a few moments trundling before returning to the ridge as the clouds closed in. We followed this along for some way before Norman and I decided to descend. The others carried on to climb Enniware (Point 1240m). We cramponed down some very steep snow, then glissaded and scrambled down to the canoes in the gathering gloom.
37. ENNIWARE - North ridge (1240m) (60 deg 9` N, 44 deg 26` W). First ascent by P.Gribbon*, D.Gaskell and R.Sharples on 31st July 1975. Grade: PD. Time: 2 hours.
The above trio continued their outing by deciding to venture up into the cloud shrouding this mountain. The only problem was route-finding through a slab barrier and this gave some interesting crack and ledge scrambles. The ridge levelled to snow patches and rock outcrops reminiscent of a Scottish hill. When it was impossible to go anywhere, except down, they decided this to be the summit. Somewhere in the mist was a twin summit, attempted unsuccessfully by the 1974 Cambridge party, but whether it was lower or higher it was impossible to say. The same route was taken in descent, and the footsteps of the earlier party followed downward towards the canoes.
38. CAMBRIDGE PEAK - North ridge (1150m) (60 deg 7` N, 44 deg 24` W). Second ascent by D.Gaskell and P.Aldred* on 9th August 1975. Grade: PD.
39. PIMPLE - West face (950m) (60 deg 7` N, 44 deg 23` W). First ascent by D.Gaskell and P.Aldred* on 9th August 1975. Grade: F. Time: 9 hours for both peaks.
Whilst I was convalescing in the relative luxury of the basecamp with its fresh trout, four-poster beds and painkillers, Dave was getting frustrated and decided at all costs to have a go at something. A small rounded lump on the island seemed inviting - well, we'd climbed everything else within reach.
An hour's canoe trip took us to Pamiagdluk and a bit of steep walking brought us to the foot of the hill - from here we saw just across a glacier a larger peak we guessed had been climbed the Cambridge 1974 Expedition. As we had plenty of time we changed our plans (tut-tut) and scrambled up a north ridge to the summit. There we found a very bedraggled cairn but no other signs of life so we rebuilt the cairn and deposited our cassette tin in it.
We then retreated back to the glacier and scrambled up the loose boulder scree ringing the rounded lump of the pimple. As we'd guessed no-one had thought it worth ascending this lump so we found we had ticked off yet another first ascent. Just at this point the faithful pen gave up so the Pimple was left with the mystery of how the cassette tin and a blank piece of paper ever got to the top remaining for the next visitors.
Diagram showing route taken up Frenchbird (40). This had previously been climbed by a French party in 1957
40. FRENCHBIRD - East ridge (Point 1242m) (60 deg 7` N, 44 deg 20` W). First ascent by a French party in 1957. Second ascent by C.Matheson, D.Brown, N.MacKenzie and P.Gribbon* on 7th August 1975. Grade: AD. Time: 13 hours.
This is one of the most beautiful of the mountains in the area. It lies on the north side of Pamiagdluk in an isolated and prominent position overlloking Ilua fjord. Its enchanting shattered torso of red rock is girdled with a sculpted skirt of white snow. It was climbed up its east ridge to the high skirt and then up an icy cleft to the summit spine of pinnacles. This ascent has been covered in more detail in the Personal Account presented elsewhere in this Report.
Sketch of Frenchbird (40) drawn from the shore opposite Pamiagdluk on the return journey
41. TWIN PILLARS OF PAMIAGDLUK - East face (1373m) (60 deg 3` N, 44 deg 22` W). First ascent by N.MacKenzie, P.Gribbon, C.Matheson and D.Brown* on 10th August 1975. Grade: TD-. Time: 14 hours (from bivouac).
This is the highest peak on the island of Pamiagdluk and was climbed in a three-day sortie from 'Trout' camp. When seen from the mountains above basecamp, it appears as a huge steep-sided tower split symmetrically by a deep gash.
The access from Anordliustsoq was difficult so we left on the previous afternoon and after a 3-hour hike involving some acrobatic waterfall crossing set up a comfortable bivouac by an enclosed lochan below the slabby walls guarding the east side of the mountain.
Shifting cloud and misty rain welcomed us in the morning but we left, unperturbed, at 7.30 a.m. After skirting the lochan we cramponed up a long, gruelling snow gully reaching the col at about 3000 ft at 9.30 a.m. Our peak was very imposing - a long black finger pointing into the damp cloud, which was beginning to close in. We followed a loose terrace before scrambling up the lower slabs of the south-east face. 500 ft of very steep, damp rock separated us from the summit pinnacles - we could see about 100 ft through the rain.
I led up the first pitch (VS) - a greasy groove and short vegetated overhang led into a narrow chimney. This I followed for 60 ft, sometimes bridging, sometimes thrutching, to a grassy ledge. The others followed, more elegantly.
We then rejoined the "line of weakness" we had seen from the bivouac and Phil led up a difficult series of greasy grooves and chimneys (120 ft VS). The next pitch was the crux - Colin leading up a steep crack climbed by bootjammers with nothing for the hands (VS). Colin continued up and after an awkward pull over a bulge (HS) reached the terrace beneath the summit pinnacles. Due to the difficulty of the climbing, we had been moving as a foursome and it was now well into the afternoon.
We had no idea which pinnacle was the highest - we plumped for the farthest right - and guessed wrong! However, we were second best by only a few feet, and while Phil stood on tiptoes trying to convince himself that he was on the highest point, we were content with our achievement and due to the lack of view, the inclement weather and the lateness of the hour, we descended speedily.
Three long abseils took us to the terrace and we regained the col in the glow of a fiery red sunset beneath threatening black clouds. It was a wild and ominous night. We glissaded unsteadily down to our bivouac in gathering gloom at 9.30 p.m.
The next day was hot and fly-infested. We returned in high spirits to camp and an invigorating dip in the icy river.
Diagram showing route taken up the Twin Pillars of Pamiagdluk (41). At the very end, in deteriorating weather, the party chose the wrong pillar which turned out to be a few feet lower! So if someone wants to be pedantic, they could try and guess the right one, and claim a first ascent... but the technical challenge of the mountain was overcome and the climb was an end in itself.
42. SNOOPY, 43. ECHO, and 44. POINT 990 - South-North traverse (960m, 940m, 990m) (60 deg N, 44 deg 3` W). First ascents by P.Gribbon, D.Brown, C.Matheson* and N.MacKenzie on 13th August 1975. Grades: PD, PD, and F. Time: 11 hours.
We started off on a grey day with huge packs and tormenting flies, intentions being either the black or the red peak - Black Knight or the Red Baron.
These were two shapely peaks on the distant island of Tornarssuk, the far point on our canoe voyage. A combination of factors led to our apathy that day and after a long walk over a flat glacier, a tiring slog up a snow slope and a large picnic on the col, no-one seriously felt like what looked to be a VS route. We climbed a subsidiary top, Snoopy, for a better look at the Red Baron. The situation from below showed huge foreshortening, and the real situation was even more frightening. The top of Snoopy had its own merits - a bulging nose of a top that was climbed in a variety of styles - au cheval to finger traverse. Phil crossed a snow slope and went for a look at the hidden side of the Baron, 70 degree unbroken slabs which again didn't raise enthusiasm. We glissaded down the snow slopes on the south of the col, and skirted round Snoopy till we could find a way up onto the ridge. This crescent of snow and rock swept round to a small top overlooking the fjord, and seemed to be a Scottish-type ridge walk. We went easily at first, then had to rope up to descend by a steep damp chimney. The grey skies had never cleared, and a slight drizzle was falling. Norman and Dougie decided they had done enough, so shot off down in a series of long glissades. Phil and I scrambled on - the ridge becoming more interesting with our own variations of route. We stood on another top and called down to the dots far below on the glacier. Our echoes bounced back four or five times from all around, and we could hear snatches of shouts from below. We pressed on to the final height, and found an old cairn on top. My last hill of the expedition had been climbed before. Both of us were lost in thought for a while, then we glissaded down a perfect slope to the gashes and crevasses far below us.
Diagram showing route taken up Snoopy (42), Echo (43) and Point 990 (44)