Swiss climb Greenland's Mirror Wall

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 18/10/2012
Vera Reist on the immaculate granite of Ledgeway to Heaven. Silvan Schüpbach
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Four Swiss, visiting the mountainous area of Renland in the East Greenland fjord of Scoresby Sund, have made ascents of five trad lines on towers and walls that gave up to 1,200m of climbing.

Since 2007, when experienced British Arctic explorer, Dick Griffiths, took a army of West Lancashire Scouts to the Edward Bailey Glacier of southeast Renland, this region of tasty alpine peaks and spectacular big walls has firmly entered climbers' radar.

Out of 34 peaks climbed in 2007, some lay in an area south of the Edward Bailey dubbed the Alpine Bowl.

A three-man British team set up base camp opposite the Alpine Bowl in 2008 and on return published photographs of several notable big wall challenges: the Shark's Tooth, further east, which was climbed in 2011 by Mikhail Mikhailov and Alexander Ruchkin, and the magnificent, sheer Mirror Wall, which rises above Labyrinth Glacier.

Basil Jacksch, Christian Ledergerber, Vera Reist and Silvan Schüpbach, having been helicoptered to a base camp close to the entrance of the Alpine Bowl, first tackled a natural line towards the right edge of Mirror Wall.

They spent 11 days completing Ledgeway to Heaven (1,200m of climbing, 7b+, A1 and 45°). The first 10 pitches were fixed and then the rest climbed capsule style with a portaledge.

The route was rappelled, leaving nuts, slings, pitons and 23 bolts.

A week later they returned to the wall and set off up the left bounding ridge in pure alpine-style.

On their third day they again stepped onto the summit, having put up Midnight Solarium (1,100m of climbing, 7b and 45°). They left no gear in place on the route and descended by rappelling Ledgeway to Heaven.

On the east side of the entrance to the Bowl they climbed a prominent pointed rock tower dubbed the Needle (ca 2,100m). This was climbed from the east at D (5+). They feel this summit may have been reached before, although there appears to be no record of an ascent, and the Swiss found no trace of passage.

Lower, and to its north lies a tower the Swiss have dubbed El Güpfi, after a forested peak in their home country. They climbed this by a prominent pillar named Die Ideallinie (500m, 7a), leaving only nuts and slings on the descent.

This formation was attempted in 2008 by a team from Queens University Belfast via a rather more broken line much further right (UIAA V). They had dubbed it the Gherkin.
Further up the glacier leading into the Alpine Bowl lies the Cockpit, which the Swiss climbed in alpine-style, with a portaledge, over three days.

They followed a steep pillar above the glacier to create Atropa Belladonna, which gave 550m of climbing up to 7a+, again on trad gear (although three bolts were placed for the rappel descent).

With the fjord now ice free, it was decided to walk out to the coast and take a boat back to the airport at Constable Point. However, the amount of heavy gear, forced them to make the 35km walk three times.

Due to the length, excellent rock quality and general style in achieving these routes, this expedition seems to have made a significant contribution to alpine climbing in southeast Renland, and will no doubt encourage more to follow.

There are unclimbed big granite walls here that are close to 1,000m in height.
 



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Anonymous User
22/10/2012
Greenland looks like a climbing heaven!
Anonymous User
30/10/2012
Correction: the Swiss team was picked up by boat from Renland and then transported across to the east coast of Milne Land inside Scoresby Sund, where they had a rendezvous with my own (Tangent) trekking group and a US/Chile pair of climbers. All these people were then flown back to Constable Pynt by Twin Otter aeroplane, then returned to Iceland a day or so later by scheduled flight. (Posted by Jim Gregson - Tangent leader)

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