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 from Nameless Valley, in the Land of the Towers
NAMELESS VALLEY, LAND OF THE TOWERS
Two peaks were climbed in the eastern edge of the Land of the Towers; grades were TD and D. One of an impressive quartet of towers was attempted: it was graded TD, and getting harder. There remains much scope for difficult and demanding ascents in this and adjacent valleys.
45. THE OGRE - south-west Diedre (Point 1270m) (60 deg 5` N, 44 deg 34` W). First ascent by J.Cant* and R.Sharples on 9th August 1975. Grade: TD. Time: 12 hours.
Negotiating for the first time the intricate ascent into the "Lost Valley", a great black cone grew from the slabs to dominate the head of the valley - The Ogre.
By 6 o'clock on a cloudy day, we had traversed the sheer lichen-encrusted walls onto the west ridge that Ray had surveyed the day before. Scrambling and easy pitches led round south into an overhung chimney. Ray pointed me at a horizontal crack above a blank vertical wall. "Hand traverse that - you'll get good jams."
I ignored him and delved into the gully only to emerge delicately above his head onto a small ledge. A three-inch Llanberis extreme shot cleanly up. I climbed it on four nuts. V. Ray led on out of sight and distorted mutterings floated down for some time… "Untie the belay and give me more rope…" screamed a strangled throat, then "Come on."
A flake fell to laybacking and the void below, and the crux pitch appeared. It was a great soaring corner of clean rock; topped by a grinning hair ball. Layback; thin bridging; hand jams - all the hardest tricks, yet the worst moves were at the very top as the crack petered out. A frightening lead, VI. I pulled over an overhanging chimney and the angle began to fall back. Great, except that ten feet further up I found myself perched on very small loose holds covered in lichen. The summit loomed near and another V pitch put us triumphantly on the top - a magnificent climb on a very shapely peak.
Diagram showing route taken up The Ogre (45)
46. TOWER OF PAIN - South buttress (Maujit QuaQuarsuassia) (1590m) (60 deg 6` N, 44 deg 31` W). Attempt by R.Sharples* and J.Cant on 6th August 1975. Grade: TD, but getting harder… Time: 15 hours.
The impossibility of the Tower of Pain had long been on my mind since that first distant view of its northern precipices from Angiatarfik. A bold black finger of rock thrusting higher than the surrounding spires, its challenge was irresistible.
A 5 a.m. start on an icy cold morning ensured us 15 hours of light, but the accompanying iron hard snow gave countless problems to a party with only one pair of crampons between us. Tiptoeing delicately on tiny steps, breathlessly wedging the crack between rock and ice up the approach couloir. Five hours of nervous tension to be met by a shrieking, freezing gale at the foot of the buttress. An 800 ft knife-edge of perfect granite; we were forced to accept the stunning exposure of the flanking walls.
After only 200 ft the first bad step is nearly our last. Vicious cracks link holdless slabs, blind alleys, finally turned in a complex pitch of traversing, abseiling and aiding. Almost immediately, another impasse. Five-inch long cracks impend over us… Five hours for 300 ft, it is a benightment or a retreat. The cold wind steals our commitment and the descent begins. Abseils - jammed rope, a nerve grinding prussic to free it - long step ladders down the soft snow couloir above a shadowy schrund. So tired now, the long lakes back to camp at 8 p.m. One of the hardest days.
Diagram showing abortive route taken up the Tower of Pain (Maujit Quaquasuassia)
47. AGDLERUSSAKASIT (Andy's Rucksack) - South wall (Point 1763m) (60 deg 8` N, 44 deg 32` W). First ascent by R.Sharples, J.Cant, P.Aldred and D.Gaskell on 14th August 1975. Grade: D. Time: 18 hours.
This was a frustratingly difficult mountain to tackle and it remained one of the expedition's unresolved problems until the last few days of our stay. It was the highest peak in the Land of the Towers and its approach from the basecamp area was too problematical and serious to be considered unless all else failed. Views of its 1000 feet smooth sheer south walls from the west had not helped our impressions of its feasibility. Its distance from the campsite in the Nameless Lost Valley necessitated a long walk-in and, if successful, an equally long but physically exhausting walk-out after its ascent.
The party made an early start from their desolate camp close to a high loch in the valley. They went up steep rocky slopes and crossed the valley rim onto the broad crevassed snowfields that run in a high bank round the north-east rim of the Land of the Towers. Surprisingly they saw lines of weakness going up the right end of the south face and on closer approach they found that they could scramble cautiously well up the face. Four rock pitches took them onto the knife-thin crest of the mountain. With breathtaking views of tangible exposure they walked over a battlement of blocks to the highest point. There they were bewildered to find what could only be a "natural" cairn of upended flakes balanced on the tip - they found it hard to believe that neither the crusading French nor the remarkable Tilman had not been there before them. To ensure that they were on the highest point, Sharples stuck himself on a slender nearby spire to pose for a photo under the lowering mist clouds. They retraced their pitches, but unwilling to bivouac in the worsening weather they walked and eventually staggered back to their tents in the darkness. The honour of the expedition had been well satisfied by the culminating efforts of the hard men of the Land of the Towers.
Above: Diagram showing route taken up Agdlerussakasit (47) which was ascended by the south wall
Below: The summit of Agdlerussakasit, taken from the north, where it towers over the basecamp valley