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



1996: British team climbing west of Maujit Qaqarssuasia

a Leeds-based climbing team with Chris Bedford, Simon Inger, Henry Lickorish and Alastair Mitchell. They approached the Torssukatak mountains from a base in the west at the head of Narssap Sarqa fjord, and made 6 first ascents and the second ascent of Magic Arrow (aka 'The Ogre'). They reported on the vast potential for big new routes on the faces of Maujit Qaqarssuasia and Agdlerussakasit.





Overview of the 1996 expedition

This British team of climbers approached the Agdlerussakasit / Maujit Qaqarssuasia group from the west, and a basecamp at the head of Narssap Sarqa, before the fjord bends round into Amitsuarssuk. They had originally planned to base at Stordalens Havn to the north, but on discovering it had been the base for the St Andrews expedition in 1975, who had climbed many of the peaks, they opted for the more southern base instead. From here the mountains around the Blue Lake, Maujit Lake, and the lake marked 560m became accessible between July 24th and August 13th 1996.

The team had flown from London to Iceland, and then on to Narssassuaq, and by helicopter to Nanortalik. There they chartered a 26-ft cabin cruiser that carried them in three and a half hours, thick fog and a swell to their basecamp.

The weather overall was good, with only 3 or 4 days lost to climbing. There were few mosquitos but swarms of little black flies. Use of headnets was sometimes almost essential. Wild mushrooms, blueberries and crowberries were readily available.

The objectives: to climb Alpine-style from basecamp as far as possible, taking lines of least resistance up previously unclimbed peaks.

6 first ascents were made, and a second ascent of The Ogre, which they called Magic Arrow.

The peaks are detailed on the map below, which I based on a map made by the 1997 expedition, referring also to notes from our 1975 climbing trip:

1. Amusissa - 1320m, first and second ascents via 2 routes, PD and AD+. July 25th: Inger and Mitchell, via the west spur (PD); Bedford and Lickorish, via the northern flank (AD+).

2. Aiguille Rouge - 1100m, first ascent via a scree gully then on rock, D-. July 26th: Bedford and Lickorish.

3. Base Camp Crag - first ascent of 'Route 1', 15 pitches, HS4b, 600m. July 26th: Inger and Mitchell.

4. Navianarpoq - 1550m, first ascent, 1550m, AD. This route was reccied by Ali, then they took a diagonal line across rock ledges for several hundred metres, before a short pitch led via four linked snow and ice fields to the summit. July 28th: Inger, Mitchell, Bedford and Lickorish. 'A superb, classically Alpine day out.'

5. Qaqiarssiaq - 1440m, first ascent, F. A 700m snow ramp was taken across the south-facing cliffs, and on to the peak. July 30th: Inger, Mitchell, Bedford and Lickorish.

6. Base Camp Crag - first ascent of 'Dick van Dyke', HS4b. August 2nd: Bedford and Lickorish.

7. Base Camp Crag - first ascent of 'Dave Lee Traverse', 3 pitches, sea-level traverse, VS4c. August 2nd: Inger and Mitchell.

8. Magic Arrow (aka The Ogre) - 1200m, second ascent, TD- with two pitches of V+. August 3rd: Mitchell, Bedford and Lickorish. (Simon was ill.) 'A fine finger of immaculate grey granite.'

9. Tikaguta - 1350m, reccie, 5 hours walking, much over horrendous scree, to reach a col. Decided against the 400m of near vertical rock that stood between them and the summit. Poor visibility to explore other possible approaches. August 7th: Inger and Mitchell.

10. Umanangua - 1425m, first ascent, a committing route up the SW ridge, D. August 10th: Bedford and Lickorish.

11. Point 1320 - 1320m, an attempt on the summit spire, retreated through lack of right gear. August 10th: Inger and Mitchell.

12. Peak 10 - 1000m, first ascent, 1000m, PD+. The twin-peak of Aiguille Rouge, but not so steep. Solo'd by Ali. August 11th: Mitchell.


The team returned to the UK and reported on the vast potential for big new routes on the faces of Maujit Qaqarssuasia and Agdlerussakasit.

My thanks to Simon Inger for permission to use expedition photos. A copy of the expedition report can be viewed in pdf form if you click on the link.



Expedition Map (courtesy of Simon Inger)

Photo of Magic Arrow by Ray Sharples, August 1975, who made the ascent with John Cant, naming it The Ogre


Head of Narssap Sarqa, basecamp behind large central ice floe (photo: courtesy of Simon Inger)

Navianarpoq (left of centre) was ascended by the left buttress, then the snowfields.

Amusissa rises to top right, from Blue Lake (photo: courtesy of Simon Inger)

View from the summit of Amusissa (photo: courtesy of Simon Inger)

Alastair Mitchell on 'Dave Lee Traverse' on Camp Crag (photo: courtesy of Simon Inger)

Tikaguta (photo: courtesy of Simon Inger)


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