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



2010: US/Belgian team with Bob Shepton and 'Dodo's Delight'

A US/Belgian team briefly visited mountains on the west side of Torssukatak fjord in Bob Shepton's boat 'Dodo's Delight'. The boat had been wintered in Aasiaat, and new routes were put up near Upernivik before the climbers sailed south to Cape Farewell. Approaching from the same valley as John Bracey's expedition in 2000, a first ascent was made of Shepton's Spire by two routes, and they then traversed the long east ridge to Breakfast Spire. Climbs were also made on Quvnerit Island.





Overview of the Journey and Climbs

The American, Ben Ditto, the Favresse brothers (Belgian) and Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll (Belgian and Irish) travelled to Aasiaat where Bob Shepton's boat had wintered 2009-10. Bob Shepton is a seasoned sailor and mountaineer with years' adventures and special experience of the Greenland coast. On 'Dodo's Delight' the team hoped to pick out quality sea-cliffs and climbs, often accompanied by their musical instruments.

This season of climbing and sailing - to me - constitutes a classic adventure and a wonderful account of the voyages and climbing is told by Bob and can be read if you click here. It is well worth reading. Nico has also reported on the adventure here.

They crossed Disko Bay and headed for Upernivik. There they climbed two lines on Red Wall, the headland of Agparssuit, at the southern end of Sortehul fjord.

New route: 'Seagull's Garden', E5 6a sustained, 5.11, 350m. July 2nd: Ditto and Nico Favresse. For location and description of both these climbs, view here.

New route: 'Red Chilli Cracker', E6 6b sustained, 5.12a, 400m. July 2nd: Olivier Favresse and Villanueva.

Other climbs included Brown Balls Wall and the impressive

New route: 'The Devil's Brew', on 'The Impossible Wall', E7, 6c, 5.12d, 19 pitches, 850m. July 12th-22nd: Ditto, N.Favresse, O.Favresse, and Villanueva. Entire period of 11 days spent on the face. Click here to watch the video of the climb, and here for the location and route picture.

In due course they headed south, setting sail for Cape Farewell. After calling in at Nanortalik for supplies, they continued south and into Torssukatak fjord. They harboured at Stordalens Havn, then sailed back down the fjord the next day.

Two first ascents were made in the mountains where John Bracey's 2000 team had climbed, up the valley just south of Pt. 1303m on the west shore of Torssukatak. Getting lost in the mist, they encountered an unnamed peak north-west of Tikaguta on the Saga map, which they proceeded to climb by two good lines. Watch video showing ascent here.

Shepton Spire, first ascent, via new route 'Corned Beef', E4, 5.11, 450m. August 16th: Ditto and Villanueva. Bivouac just beneath the summit.

Shepton Spire, first ascent, via new route 'Condensed Milk', E4, 5.11, 450m. August 16th: N. and O. Favresse. Click here for location and description of both these climbs and here for picture. Bivouac just beneath the summit.

Nico Favresse describes these two climbs as "two classic, clean, direct lines on excellent rock." At the top of the climbs they traversed the ridge to the summit on the east side of what they named Shepton's Spire. They then continued the traverse:

Breakfast Spire, first ascent, traversing the long east ridge, D/TD. August 16th: Ditto, O. and N. Favresse, and Villanueva.

Returning to Stordalens Havn after the climb, they then sailed in search of a few more routes. Two more routes were climbed at the northern end of Quvnerit Island - 'Chloe' and 'The Chinese Gybe', location and description here - and finally:

New route: 'Never Again!', E2, 5.10, 500m. August 21st: Ditto, O. and N. Favresse, Villanueva, and Shepton. The 75-year-old skipper made the climb, was exhausted afterwards, and said 'Never Again', hence the name. You can view the climb here.

This classic voyage and climbing adventure was not yet over. The open seas beckoned. After calling in at the Prins Christian Sund weather station, they sailed across the Atlantic (click here to view), anchoring alongside Mingulay, and finally arriving in Oban on the west coast of Scotland. Personally, I love the way the mountains and the sea and the music and the devil's brew were combined in what sounds like a real classic - or at least viking - adventure.

My thanks to Nico Favresse for informing me of the locational views he has put together.

As mentioned above, for a detailed account of the entire trip, click here for Bob Shepton's evocative narrative.

For a piece of musical fun by the crew, and delightful video, this YouTube clip gives a great feel for the atmosphere of the trip: click here.

Or buy the 58-minute film of the trip: here.

Quoting from Steep Edge Films: "Vertical Sailing Greenland follows four climber-musicians - Nicolas and Oliver Favresse, Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll and Ben Ditto - and 75-year-old Reverend Captain Bob as they set sail on the west coast of Greenland looking for unclimbed walls. 'Do not return without the summit' the captain yells as they set off on a vertical ocean of granite. The Impossible Wall is steep and intimidating and with no sunset, no sunrise and no brains, the climbers get lost in a sea of time and their food runs out. After two-and-a-half months of climbing and sailing in Greenland the intrepid crew set sail across the Atlantic Ocean and face the inevitable bad weather and constant vomiting - prepare to suffer ..."




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