Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Knifeblade

Tom and Ian had spotted an incredible looking knife blade feature from the boat. It looked like it might go, following the line of an enormous corner system and then moving right near the top under some capping roofs.

Pete, Ian and myself were dropped off at the base at 4pm. The wall being North facing meant it got a total of about 3 hours of sun between the hours of 1am and 4am!

We scrambled up on the left and were able to gain a half height ledge system which took us back right and deposited us at the start of the corner. We began to climb through the night.

As the sun blinked onto the face at 1am I was leading an exposed pitch out on an arete, linking two crack systems via some airy face climbing.

A few hours later I was at the end of the crack system under the capping roof at the top of the corner. The rock around me had begun to sport deep white scars indicating fresh rockfall and ledges were filled with gravel and dust, it was not somewhere I wanted to be for long. I knew that all I had to do was traverse about 30m to the right and we would be out on the easier angled "Knife edge" and could run up this to the summit. I placed a runner as high as I could and set off.

 A balancy traverse 10m to the right gained a resting niche, but still no gear!

 A further 10m traverse without a single good runner put me in a bit of a ridiculous position. I was now facing an enormous pendulum back into the corner. But I didn't fancy attempting to reverse and I knew that if I wasn't able to reach the arete our attempt was over and we'd have to go down.

It was a truly wild place to be, one of those times where you learn how you really cope under pressure.

Looking up at the crux pitch; scary territory
Somehow I arrived at a belay and Ian and Pete figured out some elaborate ropework to allow them to follow the traverse without facing the prospect of the monster pendulum.

Sure enough we were able to scamper up the arete to the summit.

It felt great to be the first people ever to stand on top of such an inspiring feature and a fantastic way to end the trip. It was also cool because we could see for miles, all of our climbs from the trip were layed out before us. Ikeresak mountain in the foreground which Pete and I had climbed the week before, Uumannaq mountain in the distance where we had put up "Islands in the sky" and even, way off on the horizon, the entrance to the fjord containing the Horn.

The knifeblade actually connected to the mainland at the top via a thin bridge of land. We opted for what turned out to be a 7 hour hike off the back rather than abseil back the way we had come up.

We named our route "That Sinking Feeling", in honour of how proud we were to have gone the whole expedition without sinking the boat even once! It went at around E5 5c.

A Topo of the line.
On the way down we found some Antlers!

At the end of a 6 week trip, Peter was feeling pretty horny...

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