maandag 20 oktober 2014

Greenland Chapter 4: Earth and Water - Towards the unknown fjords and a new objective

Kangikitsoq Fjord... Almost!!!
… Together we cruised down the mountain river in our kayaks with a ton of gear. We were surrounded by the most beautiful mountains, glaciers, rocky fields, flowers, meadows,… in a nutshell: wild nature at its best! Unlike the flat and deep waters of the fjords, kayaking on this shallow and small mountain river in Klosterdalen with a rubber ‘flat-water’ kayak was exciting. We had been sick of hiking! Check out the ridiculous amount of hiking we did to follow the story: 
Greenland Big Wall Kayak Trip - The Map

Me, kayaking straight into the small lake.
Back in time… (day 23)

After the disappointment of the Titans we returned on day 23 all the way towards the Tasermiut entrance of the Klosterdalen valley and ended our third day hiking back where we started. We aimed to get all the other gear we had left three days before and carry it up to the Titans and from there on we would make our way with a total of 240kg towards the other end of the valley (Kangikitsoq Fjord). When we arrived that night at 8pm we saw a sailboat that had his anchorage in the bay below the Ketil Fjeld south face. Tim, social and unashamed like he is, didn’t hesitate and suggested to go and have a look at the sailboat. Who knows… maybe they could bring our gear to the other side of the Klosterdalen Valley so we didn’t have to carry it all… We blew up a kayak and peddled straight to the boat. This is where we met a nice crew of British sailors on their ten week trip in south Greenland. After some thee and blueberry crumble we had a plan, they agreed bringing our extra food and gear (40kg) towards the Inuit Village of Aappilattoq. They would be there in more or less one week, that’s the time we probably needed to carry all our gear to the other end of the valley and continue by kayak to the village.

Back to day 26…

Our two loaded kayaks in the small lake after the river excitement.
We were lucky because we could cover some distance in the valley by kayak. During the last five days we hiked three times every distance with a backpack of 35 kg, so 6 bag’s in total for the two of us. The days were long, the distance we covered we did five times, three times with the bags and two times to return for the bags. This morning we started our day with some kayaking on the big river lake which is 2,5 km long. What a luxury, not having to hike that distance five times! Unfortunately, from the end of the lake we had to hike more or less 2 km again with the bags. We hiked to a point were we could set up the kayaks again and continue on the mountain river that alights in a small mountain lake. This is where we are right now, I was ahead of Tim kayaking in the direction of the small lake. The closer we came to the lake the calmer the river became. Suddenly the stream pushed us into the lake, which was breathtakingly. The lake was full of granite boulders sticking out of the water and on shore on both sides of the lake, smooth hills covered with low blackberry bushes and more boulders gave a peaceful atmosphere. At the end of the lake the river continued, but this time it became to wild for our rubber boats to go any further. Here we got on shore and made camp, only half a day hiking with all the bags and we would be at the beginning of the Kangikitsoq Fjord.

Day 27, our legs were tired and keeping balance hiking over this rough terrain with 35kg became more difficult every day. It was about time we could kayak long distances again. In five times 40 minutes walking we arrived at the start of the fjord. What a relief and a great performance. In total we hiked the Klosterdalen valley (22,5 km) five times with a total of 100 kg per person on the back and an altitude gain and descent of 600m through rough terrain. This afternoon we deserved a rest. We found a grassy flat spot next to the seawater, the weather was nice and we chilled and made our small expedition pizzas. Our idyllic camping spot was located next to the rivermouth and surrounded by the sea. We were surrounded by steep hills as well on the land as in the sea. The hills in the sea made gorgeous little islands.     
Expedition pizza's!
The Idillic camping spot at the start of the Kangikitsoq Fjord.
Only one hour later things changed on our heavenly camping spot. Although the sea was very far away when we had pitched up the tent, the tides came in quickly. Suddenly we started to worry about the dryness of our spot, maybe this grassy spot didn’t had any low bushes because the seawater would cover it when the tides get high? This would explain the few death fish we found lying around in the grass…  We had only ten minutes to react. We ate our last pizza and started to blow up the kayaks, took the tent down and packed everything together. We had to rush, the seawater already started to flood on the grass. Before we even entirely realised what was happening, small fish were swimming where our tent had been five minutes ago and we were standing ankle deep in the water. I’ve never blown up a kayak this quick! Loaded with the gear, they were now floating on top of the grassy spot. This was the easiest way to get off shore we had ever experienced, in ten minutes the tides lifted our kayaks and off we went. The rules of Nature, you have to listen. 
Me ready for take off from the grassy platform!

Our idyllic camping spot became a watery swamp!
This time we searched for a safer spot high above the seawater. It didn’t require much discussion time to decide were our new camping spot would be. We chose one of the islands in the middle of the fjord, climbed up on one with a perfect flat spot and made an even more idyllic camping spot come true! Here we were, seven days of hiking behind, on a small island surrounded by water, fish and mountains. The feeling of autonomy was highly present, we got there on our own strength with 200kg of gear. Satisfied we enjoyed the bareness around us we had never experienced somewhere else before.
Tim and I pointing at the magic island, look at that dome on the dome-like island!
For extra training I exercised my standup paddle boarding techniques! 
Chilling with all our mess on the island.
The water way to an unknown culture

It was day 28th of the trip since we had left Belgium and for the first day in one week our legs could rest the whole day. This time we made our arms work. Again we woke up on a sunny day, packed our tent and left the island. We continued by kayak descending the Kangikitsoq Fjord following our ‘old school’ maps in the direction of Aappilattoq. This was such a nice way of transportation, the kayaks are big, stable and comfortable. Both of us had each three big bags on top of the kayak. Using lashing straps, ropes and minitractions we strapped the bags to the boats so they couldn’t fall out on moving water. The first 45 minutes my whole upper body was hurting but after a while it is like running, you just go and find your own rhythm and flow. Because the environment around us was so big and intimidating you really feel small and vulnerable. The fjord is long and 2 km wide so peddling sometimes seems endless. 

Exploring the icebergs...
Three weeks before, when we left Nanortalik we talked to José, the head guide of the tourist company ‘Tasermiut Expeditions’, about the kayak conditions in these fjords. With a little concern he told us the sea could get really rough because of the wind that slides down the glaciers straight into the fjords. On the map he showed us several spots were the Piteraq can get really bad. Kayaking in this sunny and airless weather wasn’t particularly scary. I guess the weather gods were with us because with our big fat inflatable kayaks we realised to peddle twice as far the distance José told us would be possible in one day. We kayaked 17 km all the way towards the exit of the Kangerluk fjord and it took us about 6 to 7 hours. It felt so great to cover a distance this big in one day compared to the slow hiking days where we had to hike every gained distance five times.
Tim enjoying our 5th our of kayaking that day! 
Kids were standing on shore between the red, green and blue houses of the Inuit village Aappilattoq. We arrived in their bay on our 29th day in between the fisherman’s speedboats and got on shore. The kids welcomed us immediately and helped pulling out our kayaks and moving the gear on shore. Like always it felt strange to arrive in a remote place were people live and you don’t really belong. Aappilattoq has 120 citizens who live in small wooden and colourful houses. The atmosphere is mysterious at the beginning, mostly we saw kids playing around, but that was it. There is not much going on besides fishing in summer and seal hunting in the winter. 
A quite morning in Aappilattoq.
The village is basic; there was a kid’s playground, where we were standing with our gear, a small school, one shop, a post office and one community house. First of all we went to the shop and bought some real bread, fruit, cake and more sweets. Delicious! We bought the food we were craving for the last several weeks. But it was strange when we finally had the food. It did feel like the amazing relief we imagined it would feel like. Strange sometimes how quick you forget the luxury you have when you’re right in the middle of it! Sometimes it’s just better to dream about something you don’t have then when you finally get it, even with the food it is like that. At the shop and postoffice we hoped to find our two bags the British sailors promised to deliver. Apparently they hadn’t seen any sailboat for a long time so we hoped we would still cross them when continuing towards the basecamp of the Thumbnail in Stordalens Havn. After we got stuffed with all the unhealthy food we started to have a look around. Soon we realised we had nothing to do there besides eating. What a life, but not what we were here for! The moment we decided to leave Aappilattoq by kayak again we met Themo, the only citizen who spoke some English. He told us about the village and the life as an Inuit in Aappilattoq. The citizens are very social and the community feeling is very important for them.

Suddenly we got invited for coffee and cake in the small house of an old, but known and well appreciated man. It was his 65th birthday and he started his retirement after many years of working in the community centre. Tim and I sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by a whole Inuit family of all ages. After a while only my curiosity broke the awkward silences when I tried to communicate with them using sign language and the easiest English I could speak. Slowly we got to know the family situation and why the ‘birthday grandpa’ was such a respected man. He had been the communication point of the village for several years. 
The party house with some local loading up the beers!
That night we got invited to the most random party I had ever been to. With almost forty people we sat around tables in a small red Inuit hut the size of a squash room. We got dinner and drinks like we were family members. Tim and I expected some funky Inuit meal but against all our expectations they served us an almost typical Belgian meal! Because they don’t have land to grow vegetables and the climate isn’t perfect for it, they have to buy vegetables in the store, in cans of coarse. They served us peas and carrots in a can, boiled potatoes and a peace of meat, the perfect Flemish dish, which made us think of our families at home. Except for the meat, it was a particular bird they had shot around the area. After some ceremony and singing in Greenlandic language the party started. The local band appeared and the tables went aside! The local band had one guitar and one keyboard with an amplifier. We were curious about the music they would play. As soon as everything was installed they immediately started. Before we knew everybody was dancing and singing out loud and we were right in the middle of it. While Tim was dancing with the mega drunk lady of the son of the birthday grandpa, I was swinging around the small hut with a lady three times my weight! The big guy behind the keyboard pressed infrequently some random keys and played some beats while the guy with the guitar jammed quite well. Suddenly the music changed and some kind of soccer loud screaming song started. Tim and I had no clue what happened when we suddenly followed everybody outside in a row dancing in a circle around the whole house singing the soccer-like song. Enjoying ourselves we danced and sang for a bit longer before leaving the party that was getting more and more full of drunk little Inuit’s. I hope my birthday party is as cool when I’m 65.
On the right... Tim's drunk but lovely dancing partner for the night!
Meeting up with the ‘Lads’

The next day, day 30, we said goodbye to some hangover locals, packed our tent and left again by kayak in the direction of Stordalens Havn, 10 km further away. While kayaking we kept an eye open hoping we would run into the British sailors. Lucky bastards we were, when we arrived at Stordalens Havn the Brits sailed into the bay at the same time we did. Unbelievable actually how much ‘logistical’ luck we have on this trip. We didn’t have to pay too much for all the bags on the plane, the Norwegain lift into Tasermiut, the British sailors who transported 40 kilo’s and most of all… the weather that was more or less good for about 30 days now! What is next? Or what not? We planned to stay for two more weeks in the area of Torsukatak Fjord so we could aim for a new line on the humongous big wall ‘The Thumbnail’ with a height of 1350 meter. Also we had been thinking about our way back home. Since we had met the British sailors we had the idea to ask them if we could join them on their sailboat crossing the Atlantic ocean all the way back to England. The last few days Tim had been obsessively talking about sailing all day every day. So when we met them again in Stordalens Havn Tim bluntly asked the crew if we could get a ride back on their boat. Friendly and psyched as they were they didn’t mind having two dirtbags with over 200kg of stinky climbing gear on their boat. They would pick us up in over a week time so we could have an attempt on the Thumbnail before crossing the ocean back to civilisation.

The mighty Thumbnail blasting out of the water!
We spent one night in Stordalens Havn basecamp and prepared for the Big Wall goal. Finally we reached the point we had aimed for this long. The Thumbnail was waiting for us… a new virgin big wall climb was there to be climbed. But things turned out differently… things turned out not liked expected… A complex story of disappointments… in ourselves, in the team… This story will be revealed in the next “Chapter 5: The Thumbnail – A struggle with ourselves, the team and the goals…”

Some bouldering on the way in Klosterdalen.
Pizza time in the 'very' soon flooded meadow.
Tim's first 'first' ascent!
The island! 
Found a new bone for my though surfer boy neckless! 

zaterdag 18 oktober 2014

Greenland Chapter 3: The Titan objective – disappointments present…

The Titans: Titan 1 (Left) and Titan 2 (Right)
From the Klosterdalen basecamp beneath Ketil Fjeld we could see two big walls deeper into the valley. Those walls were called ‘The Titans’, two walls of more or less 900 (Titan 1) and 700 meters (Titan 2). From the information we gathered in Nanortalik we knew a Dutch team had climbed the southeast pillar on Titan 1. The Titan 2 remained unclimbed, so we decided this could be the perfect objective for the next weeks. We guessed it would be a two to three day hike from the Klosterdalen basecamp with each two bags of more or less 35 kilo’s. After kayaking back to Klosterdalen basecamp from the Tasermiut basecamp on day 19, we prepared our bags for a two week trip towards the Titans. Our kayaks, some extra gear and four weeks worth of food we left at the entrance of the Klosterdalen valley. On day 20 we waited the rain in basecamp when on day 21 we took off in the direction of the Titans.

Preparing two bags each for a two week trip to the Titans.

Tim and I in the 'wannabe' trees!
From the start the hike was rough. This area is remote and has not seen many people pass. Despite the fact Greenland has no real trees, from the start we bumped into some ‘wannebee’ trees that are actually bushes, only they are high and dense. Those dense little f*ckers promised to be a pain in the ass when we had to conquer them with our big fat haulbags. Luckily after only 20 minutes off bushwhacking we arrived at a large flat meadow in the lowest part of the valley. 

The watery meadow!

Unlike the nice meadows beneath El Capitan (Yosemite) these meadows exist out of moss, a lot of water and river systems. In this part of the trip our waterproof alpine shoes came in really handy. Every step we moved we sank twenty centimetres into the mossy underground. A two hour hike criss-crossing in between small water pools, wetland and rivers brought us to the base of the hill that gains 600 meters in altitude,
but that part we didn’t concurred immediately. 

We still had to go back to the entrance of the valley to pick up our second backpack. We packed two bags each to make the hike more comfortable. But when we lifted that second bag, we already regretted our bad dividing skills. With a second bag of almost 40 kilo’s we hiked again through the bushes into the swamp like meadow. Once arrived at our first bag we still had some daytime left and continued 1/4 up the hill, again we walked this bit back and forward two times with the two bags. Here we found a flat spot and pitched our tent. A great relief overwhelmed us when lying down next to the tent, it had been a hard but satisfying day. One or two more days further we would be at the base of the Titans. But still, a hard uphill hike on a big talus field was lying ahead of us.

First camp on the Klosterdalen trekking after the wet meadow!
Day 22, without a flat warm up hike, we started the day hiking straight uphill. In only one hour we reached the small lake on top of the hill. The hike over the talus fields was risky, the chance we would twist an ankle was high, walking with these heavy bags. After the return and second bag we continued crossing the lake on the north side. Here we were at the highest point of the valley, we called this part ‘the dead valley’ because the environment was cold, poor of vegetation, full of loose rocks and glaciers. In this spot we felt alone, besides one big white hare we were very alone and far away from everything. Still in one day, we could continue after the lake towards the base of Titan 1, where we made our second camp. From now on we had a good view of the walls Titan 1 and 2. Against all our expectations it looked like the quality of the rock of Titan 2 couldn’t offer us a great big wall to attempt. It looked like choss and a lot of permanently wet streaks where all over the wall. So, the dream of the first ascent of Titan 2 we let go. Although Titan 1 had been climbed on the southeast pillar we thought the southwest face offered us a nice new objective; steep, long and various climbing. But also with this wall we had our hesitations about the rock quality. It was hard to see from basecamp if the rock was worth it, you can’t know until you try. On day 23 we hiked up the steep approach to the base of the wall.

The steep talusfield with the lake above the col. 

The worrying face of Tim below the steep face of Titan 1.
For about one hour Tim and I sat down beneath the wall. Hesitation about the quality of the rock was dominant. The rock didn’t look any better from this point of view. But still, we were keen to climb some big walls right now. This was a hard moment, should we attempt or not? Both of us had hesitations about the rock quality and with that in mind we weren’t completely convinced to give it a try. This was an annoying moment for both of us, we had to make an important decision, clouded by doubt and eagerness. For any kind of climbing you have to be confident, trust yourself and your partner and it just has to feel right. At this moment I don’t think we were confident enough to go for it, doubting the rock quality. The rock seemed way too poor. We decided to go down and leave the Titans for what they are.
Chilling after our second day hiking in basecamp below the Titans.

Basecamp under the Titans, time to decide...

But now… what now…? We hiked almost half the Klosterdalen valley with 130 kilo’s of gear. Just going back didn’t appeal to us at all! In about ten minutes time we decided we would cross the whole Klosterdalen valley and continue towards the other fjords with the walls; The Thumbnail, Igdlorssuit Havn and the whole Pamiagdluk Island full of great walls. Constantly changing plans is exhausting and demands a lot of flexibility. 

But after the big disappointment in those two Titans we found new energy when we aimed for the unknown at the other valley entrance. This new goal meant again a lot of hiking, kayaking and more days without climbing. In the mean time we started to trust the Greenlandic high pressure system around us and relied on the continuously good weather.

A few days later… (day 26)

I got into my kayak, the current was quicker as I expected and before I entirely noticed I slid down the shallow river. I approached the first curve quickly and didn’t know if the current was going to accelerate, or even worse, the river that gets even wilder behind it. Tim was ahead of me so I should be able to see him on time before the water gets too wild for our rubber kayaks loaded with climbing gear. Like we agreed before he took off five minutes before me, he would be waiting somewhere on the side for me. I cruised through some curves like a pro kayaker in a rubber boat! The river wasn’t deep but the current was quick so capsizing was not an option or we would lose our gear floating away. One last curve and there he was, Tim was waiting for me. “Fuck hiking with 35kg on bushy, rocky and sketchy underground, look at me I’m flying down to the valley now!” I screamed to Tim. I passed Tim and this time he followed me, this was even more exciting because I didn’t know what kind of water was ahead of me…

In “Chapter 4: Earth and Water – Towards the unknown fjords and a new objective” you will discover our experiences crossing one of the prettiest valleys we’ve both ever seen!

See you soon for the next chapter…

On top of the Talusfield.
Tired and ready for lunch after carrying two bags over the Talusfield.
Colourful rocks lying around in the meadow. 
Amazing meadow!
The small lake after the talusfield, the highest point of the valley! 
Our treats after hiking: a mixture of vitamins, sugar and animal bones!
Tim hiking in the meadow next to a beautiful clear river! 
A view on the small lake from the base of the Titan 1.

dinsdag 14 oktober 2014

Greenland Chapter 2: Getting into it… Big Walls!

Nalumasortoq – ‘British Route’

We had been in Greenland seven days in a row and experienced more or less great weather for that whole period. Thinking this amazing weather would soon end we decided to hurry up and waste no more time doing something else than climbing. We arrived at Tasermiut basecamp on a little beach like the explorers from back in the day, unloaded our kayaks, put up our tent and got ready for Nalumasortoq. We had no information about any of the walls around Tasermiut basecamp so preparing the gear was a pure guess. We didn’t even know how high Nalumasortoq was and because this wall is located further down the valley compared to Ulamertorsuaq, which is close to the fjord, we had a hard time guessing its height. Just as we had a hard time estimating distances over ground and water. But hey, hard times is what we are here for! The greatness of this nature and environment is difficult to comprehend once your surrounded by it. So the same afternoon we went towards Nalu! Man, did we guess wrong! We brought our portaledge, sleeping gear and enough food for a big wall. The hike should have been three hours but took us longer because we were overloaded. As soon as we came closer we realised the wall could be doable in one day. Estimating, not really our strength, but it could have been worse. That night we slept under the portaledge fly and woke up on day 9 at 5am, ready for a long day.

Approach to Nalu with Halfdome in the background (left side). 
 We took another guess and estimated the wall to be more or less 600 meter. So we decided to go light weighted for a ‘one day’ climb. The weather was perfect again and it didn’t look like it would rain any time soon. Because we were ‘top’o less we just chose a line that looked nice and obvious. In the start our progress was pretty slow, both of us had to get used to the climbing and granite style again. But soon we blasted up this nice straightforward left hand corner and climbing went quick and efficient again. We got the flow back, yiehaa! Afterwards we discovered it was the ‘British Route’, 5.12a/b, with 19 pitches. It was a long day but we made it to the top and could rappel down without any obstacles.

The morning after the British route  
and the gorilla fight.

To us Greenland seemed like the south of Spain so that night we slept at the base of the wall. The next morning we both woke up pretty tired. Like usual, after every long and physical climb I woke up with the feeling I’ve had a long fight with some gorilla at night but this time it was not only the feeling, I also looked like I got into a fight with one. I couldn’t open my left eye because it was swollen like a ping pong ball. First there was a little bit of worrying but soon it turned into laughing with my retarded face! Luckily it disappeared in the evening and I could see again. So Tim didn’t have to continue his trip with Mister Frankenclimb.

Mister Frankenclimb!
La cumbre! 
Ulamertorsuaq – ‘War and Poetry’

Tasermiut basecamp is not the most remote place in the south of Greenland. Every year there are more or less three teams going to climb Tasermiut’s biggest walls. This year we met one group of four Luxembourg climbers and two other young fellows. Those last ones are Ben Lepaisant from Luxembourg and Max Duensser from Germany. They were great company in basecamp, we ended up sharing the same little cave as a kitchen. A cave is a nice luxury in basecamp, without it you’re screwed when it rains for days.

Myself in the third pitch,
with the mighty wall above us
Ben and Max had already tried the famous ‘Moby Dick’ (7c+ free) route on Ulamertorsuaq (1200m). They told us it’s a great climb but that the line on the right of this classic called ‘War and Poetry’ is an even better looking line. Although ‘War and Poetry’ is a little easier (7c free) and doesn’t get climbed very often compared to Moby Dick we chose for this first one. ‘War and Poetry’ is a little more adventurous, has more wide cracks and turns out to be more physical. So after our warm up route on Nalumasortoq we were ready for something bigger. On day 11 of the trip, one hike and rest day after the ‘British Route’, we left for the three day ascent of the route ‘War and Poetry’. We had no time to lose, because the weather was unbelievably good for the last week and a half, we expected rain every minute, and who knows when it would end once it started. 

Arriving pretty late at the base of this massive tower we started up the route with all our gear. For Tim it was the first time he experienced hauling this much gear up a wall. For me it was the first time I experienced hauling the gear behind every single pitch we climbed while the second person follows. Ulamertorsuaq is a big wall of which the first half (15 pitches) is pretty slabby and bolted quite a lot. The angle of those pitches made hauling a pain in the ass, even more then usual. Because we were both virgins in this way of climbing a big wall, we made slow progress in the start. But like on Nalumasortoq we found our own efficient system pretty fast and could blast up to pitch ten in a couple of hours, because of the late start we didn’t get any further. Here we slept in our portaledge, it was great to sleep on a wall again. Since the Venezuela expedition I had never forgotten the unique feeling of the vertical life, still it was nice to experience it again! For Tim the hauling was a new business, he wasn’t a big fan of it but once in the portaledge at a nice height above the ground, pain and sorrows were gone.

Tim keeping his balance on the lower slabs.
Me climbing on the first pitch straight after the black heart ledge. 
Unfortunately we woke up the next day with the strumming noise of rain. This is it, we thought, now the two weeks of rain will arrive. Slowly, not in a hurry, we had breakfast, took down our portaledge camp and started the descent. Although the rain wasn’t extremely heavy on us we went down because the weather forecast predicted worse in the afternoon. Once down we started our two hour hike back to Tasermiut base camp. 

The whole day it was drizzling but no sign of pouring rain. Maybe we shouldn’t have made the descent and just climbed while it was possible? We trusted the weather forecast but it wasn’t quite right. Maybe we could have reached the top that day, even in the drizzle. A lesson for the next time? Just continue when possible or be safe and descent when there is any chance of rain? I guess experience helps you making this kind of decisions. Anyway, one day later (day 13) in the evening we walked back up to the base of Ula so we could have an early start the next morning. We found a nice little cave in which we installed ourselves for the night. But only one hour after bedtime, the rain that was supposed to hit us in the afternoon came down on us that night. The cave wasn’t sufficient enough to protect us for it. I got wet pretty quick so I went looking for another dry boulder around which I was lucky to find. Three hours later I heard Tim calling my name, so he got wet too in that first cave. When he moved towards my little cave we both stayed dry for a bit but ended up sleeping uncomfortable in weird positions compressed against some damp and finally wet rock. Early that morning we returned to basecamp again, at least we gave it a try. That day it rained for real the whole day. This is also one of the only days in the whole of our trip we saw rain like that, so looking back we can’t complain.
The weather clearing up at basecamp. 
On day 15 we walked for the third time towards Ula and the second time we attempted to climb it, we were more successful. Quickly we blasted up the first half of the route ‘War and Poetry’, up to the black heart, a ledge system in the middle of the wall. From this point the climbing would get more steep and sustained. The two most technical pitches started right off the black heart followed by a 200 meter and four pitches right facing corner. We had two options to climb the upper half. We could climb it in one push to the top without hauling and then coming back to the ledges to sleep and descent the next day. The other option was to haul and move camp up higher so we could take it easy and sleep one more night higher up the wall. We chose the last option because the weather seemed fine and we liked hanging around on this granite ocean.
First camp of the successful attempt with the luxury of the black heart ledge. 
Tim enjoying the 'Bowstring crack'!
That second day on the wall, we got through all the wide cracks up to the famous ‘Bowstring’ crack. This is a perfect splitter crack of two pitches, although it was a little damp we managed to climb it free. At the end of that pitch we called it a day and pitched up our portaledge camp on this exposed vertical wall. Day 17 of the trip and day three on the wall we reached the top easily in just a couple of hours. What a good feeling to reach a top of such a high big wall again! It was a great climb, although, I was disappointed by the amount of bolts it contained in places they’re unnecessary. Our ascent of this climb was a good performance. But still, in my mind this was just a warm up for the bigger first ascents waiting for us in the other fjords. This climb was a challenge, but we came to Greenland for harder and more adventurous challenges than this. Now, I was ready for the main goal of this Greenland expedition. A line which you have to search for, make your own belays, find your own way, go into the unknown,… First ascent climbing requires this different mindset and focus you don’t always need while climbing an existing line.

One pitch of the 200 meter wide corner!
Back in basecamp after our successful attempt we had the food we craved. We started off with soup, followed by little cave-made pizza’s and finished with some chocolate and a nice ‘Latte Machiatto’ Ben and Max gave us when they left several days before. Even Italians would have been jealous at this feast! Little basic things like food suddenly get really important when you’re out climbing in remote places. Since we were in Greenland we had been busy every day; packing up, travelling, hiking, kayaking, climbing,… We were really tired and on day 18 we had a nice rest day. But soon we moved on, back towards Klosterdalen Valley to aim for the next goals.

While charging our own batteries on the restday we also let the Brunton Solar Panel do his work. 

After our great time in Tasermiut fjord, a big undertaking was ahead of us. Instead of calling it ‘an expedition’ after these two weeks, we continued. This time the unknown was ahead of us, the unknown that brings uncertainty and surprises…

Titan 1 (left) and Titan 2 (right)

In “Chapter 3: The Titan Objective – disappointments present…”  the unpredictable risks of exploration become clear. Keep following… see you soon!

Showing Tim how to take a Big Wall Shit!

Ready for the last 4 pitches.
Tim close to 'El Cumbre'!

Our second 'Cumbre' of the trip: Ulamertorsuaq!

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