Climbing to the west of Torssukatak Fjord
1975 University of St Andrews South Greenland Expedition: first ascent of Agdlerussakasit, first attempt on Maujit Qaqarssuasia - 1996 British team climbing west of Maujit Qaqarssuasia - 1997 Scottish Torssukatak Spires Expedition: second ascent of Agdlerussakasit, first ascent of Maujit Qaqarssuasia - 2000 British team with Ben Bransby, Matt Dickenson, Ian Parnell and Gareth Parry: first ascent of The Thumbnail - 2000 British Eastern Torssukatak Spires Expedition - 2003 Torssukatak Spires Expedition with Jon Roberts, Dewi Durban, James Mehigan and Richard Sonnerdale: The Cruise Line - 2003 Spanish/Brazilian team with Cecilia Buil and Roberta Nunes: Hidrofilia and first ascent of Maujit Qaqarssuasia east peak - 2007 Polish team with David Kaszlikowski and Eliza Kubarska: Golden Lunacy - 2010 US/Belgian Torssukatak team with Bob Shepton and Dodo's Delight - 2012 Polish team with Alek Barszczewski, Marcin Ksiezak and Jaciek Kuczera: second ascent of Golden Lunacy - 2012 Swiss Torssukatak youth expedition - 2013 US team with Kearney, Scully, Dickey and Brett - 2013 Spanish/Basque team with Andres, Castro, and Escribano - 2014 Belgian pair Siebe Vanhee and Tim de Dobbeleer overland and kayak
Jose Maria Andres, Vicente Castro and Kepa Escribano spent two weeks climbing from a basecamp near the head of Narsarmijit (Frederiksdal) valley, putting up new routes (6c, 6b+, 7a, 6c+, 6c) on Breakfast Spire, Navianarpoq, the Tikaguta-Navianarpoq ridge, and on Punta Aiarpoq on the Shepton Spire ridge. They later also made what is believed to be the first ascent of Punta Alboran (Half Dome) on Semersoq Island, travelling along the coast in Castro's yacht.
View across Torssukatak Fjord (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
I am grateful to Lindsay Griffin for information on this expedition, sourced on the web. Lindsay has a lot of knowledge of mountaineering in the Torssukatak fjord, and I have benefited from this knowledge in piecing together details of several of the expeditions covered on this website - particularly in the case of this one.
In addition, I am grateful to Vicente Castro for his own information, and for permission to post the maps and photos on this page.
Vicente Castro had sailed his yacht 'Alboran' (a 1977 Contessa 26' built in Canada) single-handed to Labrador in 2012, before crossing the Labrador Sea to Greenland, and exploring the Kap Farvel coastline for potential routes. He then wintered the boat out of water at Nanortalik, before heading to Sondre Sermilik in June 2013 with fellow climber Javier Orive. They set off in two kayaks, filled with food, ice equipment, skis and sledges. The kayaks were left at the northern end of the fjord, then they trekked up onto the ice cap via steep glacier moraine and travelled south and east along the ice cap. Leaving the end of Tasermiut fjord on the right, they set up a camp on the top of the west head of Lindenow Fjord. Then from there they explored by ski though the glaciar pass veering south to Prins Christian Sund fjord. They returned the same way, escaping by luck from a serac avalanche while abseiling in the access couloir to the ice cape. Vincente then returned to Nanortalik.
Andres and Escribano flew to Narsarsuaq via Copenhagen, and Castro picked them up in his yacht in Nanortalik. They sailed south to Narsarmijit (Frederiksdal) and harboured there (although they endured a storm south of Sermersoq), then set up a basecamp four miles up the Narsarmijit valley, by the boulders on the west side of second lake, where they were considerably troubled by mosquitos and flies. This was to be their base for a week.
In total they climbed 5 new routes here, before travelling to Semersoq to make a first ascent there.
Breakfast Spire, third ascent via south face, arriving at the west top at 5pm, new route 'Marmitako', 6c, A1, 375m, then 8 abseils, 15 hours camp to camp. July 30th: Andres, Castro and Escribano.
'Marmitako' on Breakfast Spire (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Moskito Spire, first ascent via east face, new route 'La Cuadrilla Pika Pika', 6b+, 270m, 9 hours camp to camp. The spire is located on the ridge between Tikaguta and Navianarpoq. July 31st: Andres, Castro and Escribano.
'La Cuadrilla Pika Pika' on Moskito Spire (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Navianarpoq, via south-east face, by new route 'Nunatak', 7a, A1, 735m, 35 hours camp to camp (see photos below). August 4th-5th: Andres, Castro and Escribano. The team were overtaken by darkness just below the top, and summited the next morning (with fantastic views above the fog - see photo at top of this page). They descended by the south ridge. 'The night was cold, and we passed it with rubbing ourselves to keep warm, filming, watching the northern lights and laughter.'
'Nunatak' on Navianarpoq (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
El Katxalote (Sperm Whale),first ascent, via new route 'Urrezko Balea', 6c+, A1, 515m, 15 hours camp to camp. August 7th: Andres, Castro and Escribano. This peak is on the ridge south of Breakfast Spire, on the right-hand wall as you approach it from the camp. There are no other reported climbs of this wall. Some summits on this ridge have been climbed, but with no specific mention of this one, it is fair to regard it as a first ascent. They arrived back at camp at nightfall.
'Urrezko Balea' on El Katxalote (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Punta Aiarpoq, first ascent, by new route 'El Diablo', 6c, 545m, on the left side of Shepton Spire, up the south-east face. Punta Aiarpoq is a summit on the ridge, 150m higher than Shepton Spire. A 15 hour climb and descent, abseiling in the dark. August 9th: Andres and Escribano. Weather conditions: cold and windy.
'El Diablo' on Punta Aiarpoq (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
The team then sailed away to Sermersoq Island (just to the north of Nanortalik), arriving on August 15th in fog at Narssarssuaq Havn on th north side of the island It wasn't a very safe harbouring as there were many ice-floes and 'growlers' around. On the 16th, though the fog persisted, they set up a camp by the large glacier lake north of the peak then known by climbers as 'Half Dome' (1060m), believed to be previously unclimbed.
Punta Alboran (previously Half Dome), first ascent, via east face, new route 'Fisuras en la Niebla', 7a, 300m, 13 hours camp to camp. The peak was re-named after Vicente Castro's yacht. August 17th: Andres and Escribano. Weather conditions: cold and windy.
'Fisuras en la Niebla' on Punta Alboran, Sermersoq Island (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
After the expedition, Andres and Escribano flew home, while Castro sailed single-handed back to Brittany via Cork.
A film of the climbs has been shown at different locations in Spain. Vicente has done a number of winter expeditions on the East Coast of Greenland, and is a professional guide and skipper. He is considering another Greenland expedition by sailing boat in 2016.
You can view a description of the 2013 trip in Spanish at Desnival.com: here
In their report to the Spanish Federation for Mountain and Climbing Sports, they wrote: "The area still has endless possibilities of exploration and openings for all degrees of difficulty. We enjoyed it and it is highly recommended for seekers of tranquillity."
(Map courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
(Map courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Vicente crossing the Labrador Sea between Labrador and Greenland (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Packing the kayaks (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Kayaking in Sondre Sermilik fjiord on way to the ice-cap (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Ascending to the ice-cap from Sondre Sermilik (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Javier Orive reaching the ice-cap (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Vicente Castro on the Greenland Ice-Cap (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Sailing from Nanortalik to Narsarmijit (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Sailing in Kap Farvel country (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Vicente's 'Alboran' moored at Narsarmijit (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Narsarmijit (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Chema (Jose Maria) on Navianarpoq (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Climbing 'Nunatak' (new route) on the south-east face of Navianarpoq (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Spectacular view across Torssukatak Fjord from the summit of Navianarpoq (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
View down the valley south of Whaletop (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
Kepa on first pitches of 'Fisuras en la Niebla' (new route) on Punta Alboran (first ascent) (photo courtesy of ©vicentecastro )
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