Russians climb Greenland Shark's Tooth

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 25/05/2011
The Shark's Tooth, seen from the north. Alexander Ruchkin

Mikhail Mikhaylov and Alexander Ruchkin have made the first ascent of the main summit of the Shark's Teeth, spectacular granite spires on Greenland's East Coast.

The Shark's Teeth are located in the south east corner of Renland, part of the Greenland mainland immediately north of the large island of Milne Land. These locations lie within Scoresby Sund, the longest and one of the deepest fjord systems in the World, and are accessed via the commercial airport at Constable Pynt (Nerlerit Inaat).

In 2008 British climbers Crispin Chatterton, Rob Grant and Nat Spring, aided by a grant from the Mount Everest Foundation, explored side glaciers rising south from the main Edward Bailey Glacier and noted a number of big wall objectives. Their photograph of one of these, the main Shark's Tooth, appeared the following year in the American Alpine Journal

Acting on that information, Dutch climbers Martin Fickweiler and Gerke Hoekstra visited south east Renland in 2009 but were unable to gain access to the Shark's Teeth Glacier due to impassible rivers. Instead, they went further north and climbed long alpine rock routes.

Both these teams came during the normal summer season, but Mikhaylov and Ruchkin opted to arrive in April, reaching base camp, 12km from the Teeth, by skidoo.

By the beginning of May they had transported their gear to the base of the wall on ski, experiencing frequent heavy snowfalls.

A week later they had reached the 1,555m summit of the main Shark's Tooth, having spent four days climbing the North West Ridge in alpine-style.

Starting at the base of the wall, at an altitude of 640m, they set off with bivouac gear (no portaledge), climbing a steep, 300m snow gully to camp on the crest of the arête.

They made two bivouacs on the steep rock crest above, and then went lightweight to the summit, completing the 915m ascent (1,200m of climbing) at 6c and A2.

The obvious target for future parties is the huge north face.

The two climbers from St Petersburg are certainly no new comers to high standard alpine rock walls. Ruchkin, in particular, has an impressive CV, which includes the North Face of Jannu. Last year their alpine-style ascent of a new rock route on an unclimbed peak in Sichuan received a Piolet d'Or nomination.

On the photograph the St Petersburg route follows the right arête
 


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