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



July-August 2003: British Irish Australian Torssukatak Spires team

with Jon Roberts, Dewi Durban, James Mehigan and Richard Sonnerdale. A new route on The Thumbnail was put up: The Cruise Line, E3 5c, climbed without the use of pegs or bolts. Cecilia Buil and Roberta Nunes arrived as Richard and James completed their descent. Other routes were put up on Pamiagdluk Island including on 'Mark': a route named 'Called Into Question' 450m E2 5b; and on 'The Butler': a route named 'The Cripple and The Tortoise' 200m E2 5c A1.




Overview of the Expedition

This party flew from the UK to Narsarssuaq via Copenhagen, and then travelled by boat first to Nanortalik (two-day journey) and then onwards (two and a half hours by a chartered boat) to Pamiagdluk Isand, where a basecamp was set up opposite The Thumbnail cliffs on the other side of Torssukatak Fjord. The Thumbnail had been climbed in 2000, and from this base Sonnerdale and Mehigan made the second ascent of the Thumbnail cliffs, by a new route, 'The Cruise Line'. A dinghy was used for access across the fjord to The Thumbnail. Twenty hours of daylight enabled long climbing days. The only time a fixed rope was used was on the first two pitches of the upper wall of the Thumbnail cliff.

In addition, Roberts and Durban made the first ascent of The Butler, and Sonnerdale and Mehigan made the first ascent of Mark (see below).

Climbing Summary

New route - 'Do you love me more than this empty can of coke', on Campsite Hill on the large buttress above the Baroness Base Camp, 315m, HVS, 5a, 7 pitches. July 9th: Sonnerdale and Mehigan.

New route - 'Feast for the flies', on Campsite Hill, 200m, E1, 5c, 5 pitches. July 9th: Roberts and Durban.

July 10th: first exploration of the Thumbnail wall and working out logistics.

New route - 'Captain Pugwash', on sea-cliffs about a mile south of The Thumbnail, E1, 5b, 180m, 6 pitches. July 13th: Sonnerdale and Mehigan.

July 14th: Pouring rain and swarms of flies.

The Butler (between Baron and Baroness), first attempt, had to retreat 4 pitches from the top in an epic day. July 15th: Roberts and Durban.

Mark, first ascent, this is a peak at the top of the Baroness valley, lower than the Baroness, climbed via a new route 'Called Into Question', E2, 5b, 450m, 9 pitches. July 16th: Sonnerdale and Mehigan.

New route - 'Transylvania', on Campsite Hill, HVS, 5a, 140m, 3 pitches. July 20th: Roberts and Durban.

New route - 'Going the Distance', on a large slab rising out of the sea, nort of the campsite, E1, 5a, 460m, 8 pitches. July 21st: Sonnerdale and Mehigan.

July 23rd: 'The Cruise Line' on the Thumbnail cliffs of Maujit Qaqarssuasia. At 5.30 am Sonnerdale and Mehigan were dropped off at the foot of the Thumbnail cliffs. The lower half was E3, 5c, 850m, 10 pitches, and they got to the halfway ledge at 2.30 pm. Descent was troublesome and took 4 hours, into the descent gully. Not enjoyable!

New route - 'Welsh Bed' on Pugwash wall, HVS, 5a, 25m. July 24th: Roberts.

The Butler, first ascent, up the south face, via 'The Cripple and the Tortoise', E2/3, 5c, A1, 200m within a total of 7 pitches to the summit, E3 including a pendulum and a tension traverse. Returned about midnight. July 25th: Roberts and Durban.

New route - 'Ju' on Campsite Hill (on the seaward end of the hill), E2, 5c, 155m. July 25th: Sonnerdale and Mehigan.

July 27th: 'The Cruise Line' continued by Sonnerdale and Mehigan, from the middle ledge. Ropes fixed for first two pitches of upper section.

'The Cruise Line' - second ascent of the Thumbnail cliffs of Maujit Qaqarssuasia. Rose at 4 am, left before 5 am, and summited at 2 pm. The upper section was E2, 5b, 505m, 10 pitches. Four hour descent to a bivouac on the ledge. July 28th: Sonnerdale and Mehigan.

July 29th: on arrival at sea-level, Sonnerdale and Mehigan met Cecilia Buil and Roberta Nunes who had arrived in sea-kayaks from Nanortalik to climb the Thumbnail cliffs themselves (they ascended by a new route - Hidrofilia).

New route - 'Arms Trader' on Mark, about 200m left of 'Called Into Question', E2, 5c, 180m, 4 pitches.July 31st: Roberts and Mehigan.

The team left basecamp by boat on August 2nd, arriving back in London on August 8th. As a footnote, they stress that headnets are often essential against insects, and ideally an insect-proof shelter.

For more information on this expedition, click here for the expedition report.




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