Fresh from his NIAD success @DuncanCritchley set out with plans to aid-solo Sunkist, a 31 pitch route on the SW face of El Capitan. Things didn’t quite go according to plan. #factortwo #Yosemite #bigwall https://t.co/zY3u5WSklI pic.twitter.com/NZl9CcLqWa
— Wil Treasure (@treasurewild) December 11, 2017
There’s part of me that’s reluctant to post this, as it was a lot of fun to research the area before our trip in the summer. However, I thought it would be useful for the climbing community to have the information recorded here. Hopefully it can help teams to locate possible first ascents and to improve on the style of previous ascents.
Information was gathered from the Alpine Club library in London, Tony and Sarah Whitehouse, numerous blogs and reports and finally from a collection of topos and other information kept in Nanortalik by Niels Jepsen. Niels also helped us to organise boat transfers and shipping and provided a point of contact in Greenland in case of emergency.
One issue I encountered in Greenland was that the lack of information about routes made choosing ascent tactics very difficult. With a detailed topo and pitch grades you can estimate times and decide whether you will need to take multiple days, whether you’re going to need aid gear, whether to carry bolts and pitons and so on. I had never really appreciated just how much information a guidebook gives you in these terms. Even knowing how to approach the routes is tricky.
|The main peaks in the Fjord using the climbing community’s names.|
The logistics of climbing any of the routes with a vague topo or no pitch grades meant that it was very difficult to pick a good objective for a repeat. It’s also useful to have an indication of whether bolts will need to be replaced, as carrying a makes a big difference over a one day attempt. As I found when drawing the topo for our new route, getting all of this information into a topo is very hard on a long route!
I share this database so that if you’re visiting the area you can glean some useful information from it. If you’ve been to the area you can add comments to the sheet to update and I will add these in when I can. If there’s information mentioned in it which you can’t find then let me know.
A side note to this is that I was shocked at the number of bolts in Tasermiut. It’s not like there are sport routes, but it is the norm to bolt belays and add bolts to runouts on pitches. We clipped plenty of these, many of them were necessary to make the climbing feasible. I felt troubled by this all the same. It seemed like many of these adventures wouldn’t be possible without some of the bolts, but that the act of new routing in itself is seen to justify littering this beautiful landscape. While this is a wild and unusual place to visit that impact is minimal, but it can only grow. We were lucky to not need to place any bolts on our new route. Natural belays were always available and we were able to descend a neighbouring route. I’d ideally like it to stay that way. Leaving our route bolt free makes for a more committing ascent and the simple fact is that they aren’t necessary on this line, given the chance to descend nearby. I was doubly glad that we didn’t need to place any bolts as in retrospect the bolts we took were not suitable. They would have served our own needs, but rusted quickly and potentially not been of use to future parties. If I were to go again I would take a drill and 12mm bolts, the only responsible thing is to place equipment which will last – the other teams present appeared to have better bolts than us in this regard.
We travel to these places because they are wild. I, along with other members of my team, felt a sense of guilt at even being there. Basecamp is littered with small paths, there is cave stuffed with useful bits of wood, chairs, fishing rods and even a table. Each of these impacts on their own is small, but the bigger picture is that if we aren’t conscious of what the limit should be then we lose some of the reason for going. At the bottom of Ulamertorsuaq there was a surprising amount of detritus, old carabiners, an old water canteen, a broken trekking pole, long lengths of tat. It’s true that recovering something dropped from the face is a difficult task. I can hope that these objects were simply newly uncovered remnants from the past and that other teams remove some detritus in their turn too.
It’s unfortunate in mountaineering and climbing that the old mantra of “Leave nothing but footprints” is so hard to follow. In order to carry out our task safely some bolts do need to be placed, if only for descents. I think we should be troubled by that still. We need to recognise that everything we have to abandon on a hill is litter and limit it to what is necessary and what is durable. I’m certainly not innocent – we had to abandon tat, some nuts and cams on routes while we were out there.
|Harry on Pitch 3 of Grand Wall, 5.11a, Squamish, British Columbia|
The article is about capturing the deep sense of well being that I get from climbing. It’s elusive. I don’t seek it every time I climb, but it is the thing which makes climbing special for me. Those days spent with friends where you feel a real sense of peace with the world, and that paradoxically, a seemingly stressful hobby can actually produce a very calm result.
A collection of photos from my trip to Greenland this summer. Every time I go on a trip I think I should take a photography course before the next one. I got a few decent photos though, even if they don’t do the place justice!
You can read a report of the trip on UKClimbing.com
So, the real reason I was so keen to climb in Pembroke this Easter, and also keen to get a few quiet days there, was to investigate my pipe dream.
|Oli Grounsell on From a Distance, E7 6b, Point Blank follows the chalk to the top of the photo, and then heads left.|
I feel like I’m always saying “I’ve wanted to climb this for years!” – which is true, but perhaps a sign that I’ve been climbing for a long time now. Routes in Pembroke like Pleasure Dome, Bloody Sunday and Zeppelin were on my horizon for a long time before I climbed them. I’d seen photos of all of them before I saw them in the flesh, and knew they were the classics to aim for at a grade which seemed attainable.
Point Blank is slightly different. I first became aware of the line when I walked past Stennis Ford for the first time a decade ago, before it had been climbed. It’s the first really impressive face you see as you walk west from the carpark, and it was the first really impressive, steep and blank bit of rock I’d ever seen. I was totally struck by the smooth wall. “Cauterised by a laser” is how Tim Emmett puts it, it’s such a striking challenge. I was amazed that it hadn’t been climbed – I never really thought I’d be able to climb it, but I’d never been so struck by a challenge like that.
Dave Pickford made the first ascent in 2009 – leaving From a Distance after its second crux and questing off leftwards into the blank wall. I was surprised that it was “only” E8, not a superhuman grade. It still seemed off the radar, but I slowly got fitter from sport climbing and it turned from a pipe dream into something which only my own indiscipline and motivation could prevent me from doing. After climbing Yukan II last year, and getting close on Body Machine, I decided I should target at least giving Point Blank a good go this year.
My first foray was a brief visit on a cold, but sunny, day in December. I abbed the line and checked the gear and some of the moves. Verdict – It seemed feasible.
|Selfie in Stennis Ford – Point Blank is the face slightly left of the pink rope|
Then over Easter I abbed it again, this time looking more closely at the upper wall, which I’d avoided before on the basis that if I couldn’t climb the first 2 cruxes, what was the point in trying the third? This time I looked closely, I brushed a bit of chalk on some of the harder-to-see holds and worked out a plan. I wasn’t very hopeful, it was covered in poor footholds and sidepulls, it looked a bit unlikely. I decided next go to just try as hard as I could with the sequence I thought would work, and really surprised myself by linking the section from before the last gear to the end of the hard climbing. I was totally elated! It was so unexpected I couldn’t believe it. I had another go and refined the sequence, but this was really starting to feel possible.
|Looking down the wall from the finishing crack of From a Distance|
The following week, after the bank holiday crowds had left, I dropped the rope down it again. Over the weekend it had seen a number of ascents, ground up attempts too. It was well chalked and this helped me to see some other possibilities. I started to work on the lower section, with one particularly hard move, and tried to link from the good rest through to the easy climbing, with limited success. I think I’ve had a better idea for how to shake on this section though, and despite my initial concern, I found a way to clip the good thread at the end of the runout before doing the hard sequence past it.
So the state of play at the moment: I reckon I could get From a Distance done on the next visit – I’m a little undecided about whether to do this and take the safe tick, or to just go all out and go straight for Point Blank. The latter makes sense, but it’s good to have progress markers to motivate you. A few fruitless trips could be frustrating.
|The headwall on Point Blank|
So now, I can’t get the moves out of my head. I’m nailing it every time I visualise it, which is promising, I’m nursing a minor wrist strain at the moment, it remains to be seen if I’ll get a chance to head back before heading for a summer in Squamish, but I’m looking forward to returning.
|Tired but positive|
Here’s a short video of the headwall:
An article I wrote for the University of Nottingham’s Journal this year.
|A recently developed crag. Robin leading a great E1|
|At the top of our new route, “The Grymt Slut from Sheffield” – Translates as the grim/awesome finish…|
|Rape (a type of snuff) at Hallinden|
|A relatively new crag, Jonas following an E1 crackline.|
|The steep wall at Hallinden, home of Afterburner (a classic E3)|
|Having a wash near the hut.|
|Lowering off a route at Hallinden. Pretty steep, but this one was only about HVS!|
|Granite Bitten, about E3 5c, Swedish 6+|
I was lucky enough to have a week of sunshine! On rainy days, or if your skin needs a rest, there is lots of sightseeing to be done in Bohuslan. You could also take a trip down to Gothenburg, or even Oslo for the day. Canoeing is probably pretty fun around the peninsulars too.
|Fun in the Sun|