New route on world highest sea-cliff
Eliza Kubarska and David Kashlikowski opened new big route in remote area of Torssukatak fjord.
On August 14, polish alpinists David Kashlikowski and Eliza Kubarska finished their new route and stood on the summit of the Innuit called Maujit Qaqarssuasia (also known as Thumbnail.)
The wall (1500m) that rises straight up from the water is considered the tallest sea cliff in the world. The expedition climbed in the fjord Torssakutak area in southern Greenland.
New route, Golden Lunacy is 2 km long, of which 1500m on vertical wall. Max difficulties: VIII + UIAA.
The route is reachable only from a boat. Despite the fact that the team had only two members, it was decided to travel through the fjords by kayaks prone to capsizing. “That way we were able to explore the cliffs but also had our share of adventure, as usual conquering the fear of falling , but this time... falling to the water” . (Capsizing in this area, especially with such a small team, would mean hypothermia death within minutes).
After travelling deep into the fjord, the team set up base camp on island Pamialluk. Two kilometeres of water split them from the cliff. Kayaking there was the only way to start climbing. Unlike other teams that have scaled the wall, this one worked alone without support from the mainland. The first problem they faced, was finding a place where they could safely leave the kayaks, and where they could return after sending the route. After finding such a place, it was necessary to traverse back to the chosen line of climb.
After climbing the first 600m, it turned out that in order to climb past the spectacular overhangs, aid climbing was necessary.
David: "Our goal was to free climb, not aid, that's why we abseiled two pitches, abandoning a wonderful 7a -;). We went down to a ledge looking for other possibilities. Finally we climbed past the roofs a bit to the left... We were pretty lucky with bivouacs in the wall, each night by pure luck we'd find some sort of a ledge".
Three days later the team reached a big teracce/ledge, that split the mountain in two. The same day the weather went bad and after spending the night under a big boulder in the storm, the team decided to retreat to base. After traversing trough a system of ledges towards easier terrain, and descending on “vertical grass”, the team found itself in a snow-couloir. Further descent was pretty dramatic.
David: "Constant rain (actually showers), steep snow, crevasses 10 meters deep from each side, finally a water thundering underneath the snow... Walking through the narrow snow passages in light approach shoes, with a hook or hammer instead of an ice-axes totally psyched us out. We knew that if one of us slipped the rope wouldn't do much good. We were most afraid to fall into a crevasse as there was already ‘river' underneath.
We didn't take crampons or ice-axes so as not to carry them on vertical wall, and the couloir looked easy in good weather. Now, all of this changed completely.
Finally we reached a gap in the snow, stood over 20 meter high wall. Wet, vertical walls on either side of us, rivers fall on us from under the snow (before, there were creeks), soaking everything except the wedged boulder we're standing on. We're cold, our sleeves are wet and feet are freezing.
We're preparing to abseil and I can already see that we're headed for another one. Just below us is another similar platform and the snow-passage continues a couple of meters below. If I don't find something to abseil from there, we'll be trapped. We can't climb back up with the water coming down at us and it may happen that we won't be able to abseil.
We're taking a minute to try to warm up, and then go down, praying that the rope doesn't slide off the slippery rock, then I'd drown under the waterfall. It doesn't slip but I land in stream of water anyhow.
My hauling bag turns me upside down, I catch the first rock sticking out of the water and pull myself towards the air. Thank God I didn't tie a prusic. Wet it'd surely block and then...
After a 6 hour descent we reach the kayaks. Unfortunately we cannot paddle to the other side. The storm has begun for good and the waves would probably tip us over. Another night in the rain. We sit on ropes and with plastic bags wrap over our heads. The weather's calmed down in the morning so after 20 minutes of paddling we're inside our tent."