Monday, 8 July 2013

Expedition? What Expedition?

10 months ago the plan was simple: "Let's sail up the west coast of Greenland and attempt some first ascents on huge granite big walls rising straight out of the sea".

Of course this sounded like a great idea, so when my friend Pete Hill from the Oxford uni mountaineering club asked me to join him, Tom Codrington and Ian Faulkner I said yes without a second thought.

Now, 10 months and literally hundreds of hours of planning later, I still can't believe it's actually happening! We've overcome many problems, not the least of which was finding a boat and someone to sail it! (up to now I've spent no more than about two hours on a boat in my life). The answer came from Clive and Angela Lilienthal who have kindly offered the services of their 38' yacht "The Cosmic Dancer".

The Cosmic Dancer left Newfoundland in Canada nearly two weeks ago with Tom, Pete and the two sailors, tomorrow me and Ian are flying to Illusiat on the west coast of Greenland. Here we will wait (an as yet unspecified amount of time) for the boat to arrive. The last I heard the boat was "hove to" in a gale, I'm not entirely sure what this means but I'm pretty sure it's not good! So we could be there a little while. Not to worry, we've got plenty to be getting on with, such as sourcing mountains of food and finding a gun to fend off polar bears!!

I've always imagined that people going on an expedition like this would have everything planned, down to the last minute detail. Now, on the brink of leaving, I realise this can't possibly be the case. There are so many unknowns!

This is it. A real life adventure.

We will try and update our facebook page and website periodically along the way if you're interested in following our progress.

Currently our expedition has kindly received sponsorship from:

Wild Country
Lyon Outdoor
The Alpine Club
The Mount Everest Foundation
The Andrew Croft Memorial Fund
The Gino Watkins Memorial Fund
The Arctic Club

Let's hope we can do some cool stuff to make it all worth it!

Here are a couple of the walls that have already received some attention over the last few years (hence the photos), to give you an idea of the kind of thing we'll be doing:

"The Impossible Wall" about 800m high:

"Red Wall" about 300m high:

Saturday, 6 July 2013


Upon returning from Lewis, I took my own advice, and went to Kilnsey! Over the past couple of weeks I've had four of my best ever sessions there.

First off I managed the huge roof line, Mandela. I was really pleased with this because for me, it is without doubt the king line of the crag. Having done Totally Free 2 at Malham last year, this means I've ticked my own personal "King Line" at both crags.

Unfortunately they are by no means the hardest! As far as I can work out Mandela was originally graded 8b+, but it's fairly clear now that it's nowhere near that hard. Perhaps people have just figured out how to climb roofs since the 80s? I thought 8a+ was fair although it could be hard 8a, since half the battle is getting to the right places in the roof to work the moves (if you fall off you end up free hanging in space). The crux move in the center of the roof is a crazy rose move off a crimp to a finger lock in a pocket. The first couple of times I made it through this part on the link I actually fell off, only to find my fingers were still locked in the pocket and I was still in contact with the rock. This was quite painful and scary and I was glad when I found a way to stop this happening!

In the four sessions I also managed quick sends of:

Urgent Action 8a+
The Thumb 8a
Complete Control 8a
Over the Thumb 8a

A tiny bit of me is feeling like it's a shame that I'm off to Greenland for the next 6 weeks and won't be able to put my fitness to use on something a bit harder. But the rest of me is MASSIVELY EXCITED and at least my fingers shouldn't have problems with any of the moves on the granite slabs!

I'll make another post about this expedition soon but for now check out the website or facebook page.

Here's a couple of snaps my mate Pete Wilkinson got of me setting up for the crux on Complete Control and boxed out of my mind about to fall off Urgent Action: