Posted on: December 1, 2003

During his 2002 trip to Greenland, Micah Dash was bitten by the "arctic mosquito of destiny" and doomed to return to the remote Tasermiut Fjord in 2003. This time he brought Thad "Mumbles" Friday along to attempt Nalumasortoq’s towering southwest massif. This billowing wall of three buttresses, festooned with top-to-bottom crack systems, had been climbed numerous times but never freed. Nathan Martin and I also heeded Micah's call to action and we even had new friends with whom to share the base-camp tedium. A team of six Muscovites, complete with world-champion base jumper Valery Rozov, enthusiastically taught us topical Russian phrases like, "Don't put the cap on until the bottle is empty." Their siege-style big-wall route, One-Way Ticket (VI 5.10 A3), was named in honor of Valery's preferred travel itinerary. The route ascends Nalu's middle pillar and shares the first five pitches with the Swiss route Cheese Finger at 3 O'Clock (V 5.10+ A3/4, 550m, Berthet-Brambati-Dalphin-Flugi-Vitali, 1996). Sadly, thick fog and clouds prevented us from witnessing either of Valery's two base jumps, which included a halfway-up huck off a portaledge.

Micah and I also brushed up on our Spanish with four escaladores de Espana who established a new line on Nalu's left pillar, and who documented their exploits for Spanish television's "Al Filo de lo Impossible." Their route, Morning Glory (VI 5.10 A2), described their priapic condition upon waking in the portaledges. "Did they just mention a light saber fight, or was something lost in the translation?"

Eventually we were the sole inhabitants of the meadow. The weather mostly cooperated, allowing Dash and Friday to complete the first "Huberized" free ascent (team redpoint) of Nalu. After five attempts on Non Ca Due Senza Tre (VI 5.11b A3, Arpin-Manica-Ruffino-Vando, 2000), their tenacity paid off, rewarding them with twenty-one pitches with difficulties up to 5.11+ R. The 800-meter line is the sole free route on Nalu's right pillar. They also established a twelve-pitch free climb, onsight, on the northeast face of the neighboring Dome, with the crux pitch demanding 5.10c X climbing above a summit-or-plummet, bone-crunching ledge fall.


Nathan and I, meanwhile, completed, on our third attempt, the first free ascent (at VI 5.12, with the second jumaring) of the British route Left Pillar (Anderson-Dring-Dring-Tattersall, 1995) on Nalu's left pillar. We then switched our attention to the middle pillar, but after seven new pitches over two attempts Mother Nature dumped a two-and-half-day, trip-ending storm on our ropes and hopes.

Editor's Note: Routes referred to in the above note can be referenced in the photograph of Nalumasortoq on Page 88 in Alpinist 1. Non Ca Due Senza Tre was freed, apart from a couple of rests on gear high on the route, by Chris Chitty, Ari Menitove and Steve Su in 2002. The "Dome" is a formation in the Nalumasortoq cirque.

— Tim O'Neill, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Here at Alpinist, our small editorial staff works hard to create in-depth stories that are thoughtfully edited, thoroughly fact-checked and beautifully designed. Please consider supporting our efforts by subscribing.