Climbing in the south Staunings Alps





1963 SCOTTISH EAST GREENLAND EXPEDITION was led by Dr PWF Gribbon, a Physics lecturer from the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

The I963 Scottish East Greenland Expedition was led by Dr. Phil Gribbon and composed of the following members of the mountaineering clubs of St. Andrews University: Dr. Philip Gribbon (Leader), Ian Wasson, John Wedderburn, Ian Wilkinson; and of the Royal College of Science and Technology, Glasgow: Jock Anderson (Deputy Leader), Jack Bryceland, John Thorley and Adrian Todd. They spent nine weeks in July and August in King Christian IX Land in the Caledonia group of the South Staunings Alps, East Greenland.

Phil Gribbon described the expedition:

The Expedition flew by Icelandair from Renfrew to Reykjavik on July 3rd, and thence on a chartered DC-3 to the barren gravel airstrip at Kulusuk/Cape Dan on a small island off the Greenland mainland. The 1200 Kg of equipment was transferred to an awaiting schooner 'Aarvak', on charter to the Danish trading company K.G.H., and we sailed slowly through thick pack ice to Angmagssalik, the main settlement in East Greenland, and thence to Kungmiut.

From there, arrangements were made for two dog sledges with their drivers to accompany us and assist in transporting the equipment towards the main mountaineering objectives, the unclimbed 3000 metre summits of Quervains Bjerg (8550 ft) and Point de Harpon (8970 ft) situated 90 miles inland and close to Mount Forel (11099 ft), the second highest mountain in Greenland. Three motor boats were hired and everyone was taken to the head of the Tasissarsik inlet of Angmagssalik fjord, and the basecamp was established above the estuary of the Tasissarsik river on July 10th. However, the two dog teams and drivers retired after one night's work at 3000 ft on the ice-field, owing to dangerous snow conditions. It was impracticable, even by hauling the minimum of gear on our pulka sledges, to continue to the objectives. A successful attempt would require an expedition to drive its own dog teams, or have an advanced air-drop.

This forced a change in the objectives of the expedition. It was more than fortunate that the expedition had been halted in an unexplored region on the fringes of the upper Sermiligaq glacier. Here, many nameless peaks and the prospect of virgin rock routes waiting to be climbed soon dissipated any doubts about the decision to abandon the Quervains Bjerg journey. This region, designated the Caledonian Alps, with its jagged peaks rising precipitously out of the complex glacier system of the Sermiligaq glaciers, covers 300 square miles, and is bound by the Tasissarsik valley, Knud Rasmussen glacier, and 16th September glacier to the west, east, and north respectively.

For four perfect weeks - the last two weeks in July and the first two weeks in August - the expedition was based on four main camps in the region of the spectacular Caledonia group, west of the Knud Rasmussen glacier, and south of the area in which Hans Gsellmann's 1959 Austrian expedition operated (A.A.J . 1960, 12:1, pp. 162-3). Twenty-four summits were ascended, including twenty-one first ascents, the routes chosen being normally long, sustained, and in the upper grades of technical difficulty, and full of character. Most peaks lay in the height range 1500-2000 metres. Most ascents were clean, steep rock ridges, the finest being Gruagach (5370 ft), Igitur (5770 ft), Trident de Neptune (5980 ft) and Obelisk (6200 ft). A four-man party ascended the rock and ice North ridge of our highest peak, Rytterknoegten (7020 ft) on the same day as two members of the Schweizerische-Deutsche Gronland expedition repeated Andre Roch's 1938 West ridge route, and bivouacked on the summit.

The expedition returned to the camp perched above the Tasissarsik valley on August 20th.

The final week was spent at the largest settlement, Angmagssalik, assessing the results of the subsidiary scientific programme: aspects of ornithology, botany, geology and glaciology were studied and reports written. The expedition members left Greenland on September 6th by charter plane to Iceland.





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