Villanueva and Team Report 5 New Big Walls in East Greenland

A scantily clad Villanueva helps yard in the boat. Photos: Jean-Louis Wertz

Between a notable first ascent by an Italian-Swiss-French team in the eastern fiords and the efforts of the irrepressible Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll and friends, Greenland’s remote granite has seen a lot of development this year.

With the weather now turning — it’s currently snowing in Tasiilaq — we’ve probably had the last of the season’s new routes. After a 45-day stay, Villanueva and his team are sailing for home. They’ll take stories and successes with them: Expedition leader Nico Favresse reported today that the team claimed five new big wall routes during the trip. 

new rock climbing in greenland

Favresse climbs an exceptional, huecoed pitch in Kangertigtivatsiaq Fiord.

Favresse, O’Driscoll, Jean-Louis Wertz, and Aleksej Jaruta spent the summer exploring Kangertigtivatsiaq Fiord, which bristles with East Greenland’s signature jaw-dropping granite. The group accessed as much virgin rock as possible by forging inland in kayaks.

Exploring Greenland’s fiords by kayak often means weaving through grounded ice floes at low tide.

Favresse wrote:

Thanks to our kayaks we could access deeper into the fjord and launch ourselves on glaciers leading to other walls. We put up 5 more climbs in alpine style on five different features around here. To our knowledge, four of these were completely virgin, providing a great level of adventure but also a unique explorational mindset.

Fun, music, and FAs

As I write this, details on the team’s new routes are scant. So far, they’re neither named nor graded, and the group hasn’t issued information on pitches, length, etc. At least one route went up the Siren Tower, a soaring 840m formation that also houses the aforementioned Italian-Swiss-French team’s FA.

new rock climbs in greenland

Aleksej Jaruta on the splitter crack of the Siren Tower in Greenland.

Instead of dwelling on technicalities, Favresse’s report focuses on the group’s tactile experiences — Villanueva’s insistence on tai chi and ice baths, a pair of visiting foxes that helped keep camp clean, and Jaruta’s mastery of Belgian fries (critical for re-fueling sessions). And whenever Favresse and Villanueva are involved, you can expect a seemingly incessant onslaught of rollicking acoustic music

new routes in east greenland

Jaruta, master fry cook.

Favresse noted that excellent climbing always appeared slightly beyond the ridgeline, just out of reach.

Each time we reached a new summit, although we got a great level of satisfaction, we couldn’t help ourselves from noticing walls which looked slightly nicer just a bit further on, a bit like the grass looking greener on the other side of the fence.

The climbers’ contracted sailboat, the Kamak, picked them up on schedule. It’s now time for the trip “back to luxury” across the Atlantic.

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About the Author

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.

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