The team set out from Uummannaq on July 5th, paddling north through fjords and tidal mud flats before portaging a 20km section of land which connected a series of small lakes. This crossing took three journeys for each participant in order to successfully ferry all of their supplies.
Once past the portage, the party was able to make two first ascents on the impressive red granite domes on this section of coast: ‘Fish are Friends’ (200m, 5.9+) and ‘Wears Your Paddle’ (250m, 5.11-).
Further north, they arrived at the cliff known locally as Agparssuit and to climbers as ‘Red Wall’. Here the three men repeated ‘Seagull’s Garden’ while the women established a new route ‘Time is a Construct’ (400m, 5.11/A2) in a 50-hour push which included an unplanned bivy.
However, the expedition’s main objective was to make the first free ascent of Qaersorsuaq (also known as Sanderson’s Hope), a 900m wall which rises directly out of the Arctic Ocean. The wall had been aid climbed twice previously, in 2000 and 2002 by two different teams.
Despite the arrival of some challenging weather and concerns about the approach of colder winter conditions, the team were successful; with all six members climbing a new free line ‘Sea Barge Circus’ (900m, 5.11+) over 20 days of effort. At one stage, the route looked very much in doubt as the team sat out storms in their portaledges. Deciding to climb despite the wet conditions, Jacob, Bronwyn and Kelsey pushed the ropes higher until they were above the clouds, discovering perfect, sunny conditions on the wall above. This allowed the entire party to make a successful push for the summit.
All photos by Jaron Pham.