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



2007: Polish team puts up Golden Lunacy on the Thumbnail cliffs

David Kaszlikowski and Eliza Kubarska put up a new route on the Thumbnail cliffs called 'Golden Lunacy', an all-free route. It was accessed by kayak to the foot of the climb. Four days of climbing led to the halfway point and the ledge system that cuts across the cliffs. However, David and Eliza were forced off the mountain by storms and an epic retreat. A week later, when the bad weather abated, they returned and completed the whole face in 2 days. Total climbing of 27 pitches, including traverses, of 2000m. Free climbing up to 5.12a, some pitches climbed unroped. They reached the east summit (previously reached by Buil and Nunes in 2003). It is clear that 'Golden Lunacy' stands as a lovely route. I particularly like the layback pitch around pitch 13.



Eliza Kubarska and David Kaszlikowski at the end of 'Golden Lunacy' on the summit of the east peak of Maujit Qaqarssuasia (photo courtesy of David Kaszlikowski)



Details of the Ascent

David Kaszlikowski and Eliza Kubarska chartered a Zodiac motor boat from Nanortlik which carried their kayaks and equipment to a basecamp on Pamiagdluk Island, on the other side of Torssukatak fjord from Maujit Qaqarssuasia and the Thumbnail cliffs. From there, they had access to the sea-cliffs by kayak. They had set out to make the fourth ascent of the Thumbnail cliffs by a new route. Their expedition suffered from bad weather but they succeeded in putting up an attractive new route to the left of the 2003 route 'Hidrofilia'.

Maujit Qaqarssuasia (east peak), 1540m, fourth ascent, by new route 'Golden Lunacy', VIII- (top pitch), 27 pitches. August 3rd-6th and 14th-16th: Kubarska and Kaszlikowski.

August 3rd to 7th (to the halfway ledges): The need to find a safe place to leave their kayaks meant they started with a wide traverse right (and north) to their intended line up the cliffs. They fixed a few ropes on the initial section. Two bivouacs on the lower face followed on 3rd and 4th (great layback on pitch 13), one bivouac on the midway ledge, but on August 6th bad weather forced descent via the snowy gully, which turned into a 6-hour epic with heavy rain and swollen waterfalls. Soaked and cold, they had to bivouac at the foot of the cliffs because the fjord was too rough to cross safely. Therefore they sat out the night, sitting on ropes and trying to protect themselves with plastic bags.

Six days of rain followed.

August 13th: The weather had improved and they ascended to the halfway ledge and bivouaced there.

August 14th: They reached the summit in 10 hours, reporting beautiful rock and fine climbing, especially pitches 26 and 27. As Buil and Nunes had found in 2003, the top two pitches of the summit tower were demanding.

Amazing views from the summit were short-lived as visibility deteriorated. They descended in poor visibility and failing light.

A total of 5 bolts were used on the route (2 protection bolts and 3 belay bolts). Some pitches were climbed unroped.

David asks me to post this advisory about the route:

'It demands at least 2 days of climbing for quick team + 1 day for descent along the gully in good conditions. Protection : standard rack + lots of slings, there are no existing anchors, no abseil stances (except top pitch), so retreat in bad conditions may be serious undertaking. Good bivvy place at the huge terrace ledge.'

Having watched footage of this climb, I'd describe it as a lovely route. I particularly like the layback pitch at 13, but sadly controversy arose in the years after the climb. This led, in 2012, to the Polish Mountaineering Association (PZA) taking the unusual step of commissioning a 'verification' ascent, to address ridiculous allegations including that the mountain had not even been climbed. (Considering I can see the twin towers of Pamiagdluk where they ought to be, which was climbed by our expedition in 1975, and could also be seen from the top of Agdlerussakasit which we also climbed, in line with Qaqarssuasia, in the right position on the right of the picture below, I can repudiate that allegation confidently. All charges - made in the wake of a character assassination and seeming vendetta - except a few grade alterations were dismissed. The PZA report itself stated "Opponents of the climbers definitely exaggerated both the content and form of criticism, many times higher than the boundaries of good taste.")

The 'Verification' team confirmed the first ascent climbers' accounts, downgrading only 2 pitches: one from VIII+to VII+, VII- to VI-, and 3 symbolically such as: V to IV+. According to the topo approved by Polish Mountaineering Association, the 'verification' team didn't climb at least 8 out of 27 original pitches. The 2007 and 2012 ascents were not identical. See the route in detail on the PZA verification route topo below (or click here for a full size version).

'Golden Lunacy' remains a lovely route in a fantastic mountain setting, and is justifiably and fully worth climbing as a great mountain objective. As such, the two climbers had a fulfilling adventure, which was an end in itself, living in the present, and in a wonderful mountain environment.



The Thumbnail cliffs of Maujit Qaqarssuasia (photo: Siebe Vanhee)


David Kaszlikowski in kayak near Pamiagdluk basecamp, with view across to Maujit Qaqarssuasia sea-cliffs (photo courtesy of David Kaszlikowski)


David Kaszlikowski at foot of the sea-cliffs, Eliza Kubarska in kayak (photo courtesy of David Kaszlikowski)


Eliza Kubarska on the east face of Maujit Qaqarssuasia, 700m above Torssukatak fjord (photo courtesy of David Kaszlikowski)


Descending the couloir in a storm on August 6th - they had to bivouac out at the bottom (photo courtesy of David Kaszlikowski)


Eliza Kubarska's hands on the descent (photo courtesy of David Kaszlikowski)


In this copy of the summit picture I have arrowed the Twin Towers of Pamiagdluk, first climbed by my expedition (St Andrews) in 1975.

The summit of Maujit Qaqarssuasia is in line with the summits of Agdlerussakasit and the Twin Towers, both of which were first ascended by our expedition in 1975.

The photo above is the summit of Maujit Qaqarssuasia (photo courtesy of David Kaszlikowski). Arrow insert by Susannah Clark.


Golden Lunacy route topo, approved by Polish Mountaineering Asociation (PZA). Click here for larger version of this route map.

Graphics, climbing history research by Grzegorz Glazek, with cooperation from Marcin Ksiezak (leader of 2012 expedition). Photo by David Kaszlikowski.


Website by Susannah Clark

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