Early season Greenland success for British team

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 04/08/2015
Base camp in North Liverpool Land. Behind are, from left to right, Hulya, Mount Mighty, Kuldefjeld, and the Seven Dwarfs, with the Tower of Silence far right. Jim Gregson
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A primarily British expedition comprising Greenland veterans Geoff Bonney and Jim and Sandy Gregson, together with Roger Gott, Richard Toon, and Ingrid Baber, a German currently living in Scotland, has made a raft of first ascents amongst the snowy mountains of North Liverpool Land.

Their area of operation lies west of the inlet of Neild Bugt, ca 80km north of the commercial airport at Constable Pynt, and the Gregsons were making their third visit. 

Snowmobiles have been used to reach the area on all three expeditions, the first in 2007, and the second last year, when they were also accompanied by Bonney.

Perhaps the only other team to have explored this area are Australians Natashe Sabire and Gemma Woldendorp, who climbed and paraglided from peaks in 2012.

This year the British team established base camp at a little over 500m and at more or less the same location as in 2014 (71°21.679'N, 22°07.389'W), finding colder conditions than last year but also much better, stable weather.

Operating in two teams, they were able to make many first ascents in one day outings from base camp, with Gott and Toon as one team, and the remaining members forming the other.

The Gott/Toon team made a number of first ascents in the Seven Dwarfs, which form the end of the ridge extending westward from Mount Mighty (1,005m).

Sneezy (850m) was climbed via the north couloir and east ridge, a route named Atisshoo, Atisshoo, All Fall Down and graded D+, while the summit of Dopey (820m) was reached via Vanishing Gully (AD+/D-) on the northeast face.

The same pair made the second ascent of Longridge Peak (960m) following the original 2012 Australian Route, and also climbed Lewty Peak (855m) via Memorial Ridge (PD+, 50°), a snow rib on the south face to a rocky summit.

More remote from base camp was their first ascent of Lancstuk (1,050m), a large summit south of the Mount Mighty chain.  The ascent began 100m above sea level and followed the northeast face and north ridge at PD+/AD-.

In the meantime Baber, Bonney and the Gregsons had also been active.

During his many expeditions to Greenland, Jim Gregson has adopted a policy of towing one pulk to the base of the climb; as a potential stretcher in case of mishap, and as a secure site in which to leave first aid and survival kit.

As the youngest member Baber volunteered to act as main pulk pilot and proved very adept, earning the nickname of Big Diesel for her prowess.

Baber plus the Gregsons climbed Happy (830m) in the Seven Dwarfs via Disneyland (PD+) on the north face, and together with Bonney climbed Sleepy (740m) via Nanok (PD+) also on its north face.

All four climbers made the second ascent of Castle Peak via the north flank (Postern Gate) and a descent of the Eastern Ramparts Ridge. They also made the second ascent of Mount Mighty by a new route up the northeast face christened Snake in the Outback (PD+/AD-).

To the east of Mount Mighty, down towards the Neild Bugt inlet, Baber and the two Gregsons made the first ascent of Farfarer Peak (815m), climbing the northwest face and north ridge to create the Dennis Davis Memorial Route (PD+, the first ascensionist of Nuptse was an old friend of the Gregsons).

These three also made the third ascent of Longridge Peak via the southeast rib and east face - Cryogenic (PD+), and further east the first ascent of Hvithorn (825m) via Blanco on the south face. The latter was a particularly satisfying ascent, as the Gregsons had tried it in 2014 by the west ridge but were stopped at the foresummit, Varmtind (750m), by a deep notch in the crest.

Various other peaks were climbed, many of which were skied.

At one stage during the expedition fresh footprints were discovered quite close to base camp, and the size indicated that these had been made by an extraordinary large polar bear.

He didn't come back but at least one team member admitted to a couple of sleepless nights, while Jim Gregson snoozed happily, cuddling a loaded rifle.

More difficult technical climbing is still available in this region, notably on the virgin Tower of Silence (attempted by the Australian duo in 2012), the southern aspects of the Seven Dwarfs, and the north side of Mount Hulya. However, rock climbing here would be best attempted later in the year, when it is warmer. This would involve a more complex means of access.
 


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