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 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
1997 Scottish Torssukatak Spires Expedition: second ascent of Agdlerussakasit, first ascent of Maujit Qaqarssuasia
with Pete Benson, Andy Benson, Kenton Cool and Al Powell. Approaching from camps west of the Torssukatak towers, they made 18 ascents. This included the first ascent of the main (highest) summit of Maujit Qaqarssuasia, and two routes on its South Face - 'Rampant' and 'Totty'. They also made the second ascent of Agdlerussakasit.
Overview of the 1997 expedition
The Expedition took place between 25th July and 25th August 1997. Flights were taken to Reykjavik, and then onwards to Narsarssuaq, followed by helicopter flights to Nanortalik. The ice had only cleared from Nanortalik on 15th July, but they were able to travel by charter boat to their basecamp at the head of Narsap Sarqa Fjord, where a storm flattened their main tent on the first night. After that, the weather was very good. Like the 1996 British expedition, this Scottish team of climbers approached the Agdlerussakasit / Maujit Qaqarssuasia group from the west. From basecamp the mountains around the Blue Lake, Maujit Lake, and the lake marked 560m became accessible, and an advance camp and bivvy sites were placed closer to the climbing goals.
They experienced plagues of black fly which found their way into nostrils, ears and mouths, so headnets were often needed around camp. The advance base camp was set up at the end of the Blue Lake, and later they had a bivouac site at a large boulder at the col below Maujit Qaqarssuasia.
For a pdf copy of the Expedition Report, click here.
Peaks and routes ascended
1. Magic Arrow (aka The Ogre), third ascent, new route up north ridge, D- with pitches of V+ and a snowstorm on the top. August 1st: Al Powell and Kenton Cool.
2. Blizzard Peak, first ascent, south-west face, TD- with snowstorm on descent. August 1st: Andy Benson and Pete Benson.
3. 'Rampant' on Maujit Qaqarssuasia (west summit), new route up south face, TD, 7 hours. August 5th: Al Powell and Kenton Cool. 'Following a surprisingly easy line of ramps up the centre of the face, three devious and tricky pitches made the crucial link pitches in the upper wall. Progress halted on summit ridge just short of the top due to a fast advancing storm front. An uncomfortable descent was made down the west ridge and the north face (abseils).'
4. 'Portion Control' (new route) on the south face of The Prow, ED-, E25c, 375m, 6 hours. August 8th: Al Powell and Kenton Cool. 7 great pitches to a prominent corner at the top. 'A fantastic route.'
5. Tikaguta, first ascent, south-west ridge, AD. August 5th: Andy Benson and Pete Benson.
6. Maujit Qaqarssuasia (1560m, main summit), first ascent, via south couloir and ridge, D-, 11 hours from basecamp. August 9th: Andy Benson and Pete Benson. 'A fine alpine line taking the south couloir and ridge to the highest summit of the mountain.'
7. Totem, first ascent, A1, an aid ascent of a dramatic pole of rock. August 10th: Andy Benson and Pete Benson.
8. 'The Colour of Magic' (new route) on the Wall of Early Morning Light, summit wall, on the north-east face of Navianarpoq, ED2, E2/3, 5c, 750m, 15 hours and a summit bivouac. August 10th: Al Powell and Kenton Cool. 'An intimidating dark face... a serious and sustained route.'
9. 'Steel Drum Idolatry' (new route) on the previously mentioned wall of Navianarpoq, ED2, E3, 5c, 600m, 14 hours. August 13th: Andy Benson and Pete Benson. 'A tremendous route on an amazing line.'
10. 'Totty' on Maujit Qaqarssuasia (west summit, first ascent), new route up south face, ED2, E3, 6a, 750m, 10 hours. August 14th: Al Powell and Kenton Cool. 'Looking in search of a harder line, we came away satisfied. This counter-diagonal to Rampant attacks the upper wall via Hell Groove, followed by more devilish climbing above. An unwell KC dictated a rightwards line to the ridge, where easier ground led to the summit and same descent as before.'
11. Agdlerussakasit (1763m), second ascent, by south flank, AD+. August 17th: Andy Benson and Pete Benson. 'A superb alpine adventure on perfect rock to a knife-edged summit ridge. First climbed by the 1975 St Andrews University expedition, possibly by the same line.' (First ascent was by Sharples and Cant - see photo below.)
12. 'Deathflake 2000' on left-hand corner of The Prow, ED, E45c, 400m. August 19th: Al Powell and Kenton Cool. 'Requiring steady nerves and strong arms, especially on the to corner,' which may have been the toughest pitch of the entire expedition.
13. 'Skirmish' on left face of The Prow, HVS, D, 400m. The climb started well, then disappointed. August 19th: Andy Benson and Pete Benson.
Extracts from the 1997 Expedition Report
Correction: Magic Mirror (aka The Ogre) was first climbed by the 1975 University of St Andrews Expedition
Report amended to show approaches of subsequent expeditions (edited by Susannah Clark)
The 1997 Expedition approached by Narssap Sarqa fjord
BC=Basecamp ABC=Advanced Base Camp
Magic Arrow, aka 'The Ogre'
Ice on the way to Narssap Sarqa (photo courtesy of Al Powell)
Silhoette (photo courtesy of Al Powell)
Aurora (photo courtesy of Al Powell)
Aurora (photo courtesy of Al Powell)
View of Magic Arrow, aka The Ogre, taken by Ray Sharples in 1975. To the left, Totem can faintly be made out, left of the two subsidiary pinnacles, Beavis and Butthead.
View of Maujit Qaqarssuasia from Agdlerussakasit, taken by John Cant in 1975.
Future Climbing Prospects
Maujit Qaqarssuasia, north face. Lots of scope for routes on the 4 towers, or complete ascent of the west ridge.
Magic Arrow / The Ogre. The east face looks steep and clean.
Agdlerussakasit. Lots of potential: the rock is very good.
The Whale Back. Fine walls on all sides.
Website by Susannah Clark
e-mail: thecommunity (at) gmail (dot) com