/ NEWS: Leo Houlding and team complete first ascent of route on Mirror Wall

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UKC News 30 Jul 2015
Leo and team on the summit of the Mirror Wall, 3 kbLeo Houlding has led a team of five to complete a first ascent on the north west face of the Mirror Wall in remote Greenland. Climbing with Joe Möhle, Matt Pickles, Matt Pycrft and Waldo Etherington, Houlding succeeded in climbing a new route on the main face of the 1,200m peak. The team free climbed 23 of the 25 pitches and spent 12 nights on the wall. They topped out in an upwards snow storm at 4:20am on 22 July.

Read more
jon 30 Jul 2015
In reply to UKC News:

And are we going to know who the others were (or have I missed it?)
In reply to jon:
First paragraph - Joe Mohle, Matt Pickles, Matt Pycroft and Waldo Etherington.
Post edited at 20:09
jon 30 Jul 2015
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Funny, the first paragraph that I see is 'Leo Houlding has led a team of five to complete a first ascent on the north west face of the Mirror Wall in remote' and just stops there. Then there's a photo. Then it continues 'Conditions throughout the expedition...'

Obviously Internet Explorer as I've just looked on Chrome and the rest of the para is there!
Brass Nipples 30 Jul 2015
In reply to UKC News:

Fantastic news. How did they arrange the shots from above if Leo is leading. Dd they have two climbing pairs and the lead climbers shot photos of the other climbers coming up?

1
Michael Gordon 30 Jul 2015
In reply to UKC News:

Great stuff, and nicely put from Leo regarding adventure/risk vs home comforts. I guess FOMO probably applies whichever choice one takes.
Tom Last 30 Jul 2015
In reply to Orgsm:
Maybe, or maybe aided the pitch first then did it free?

Or drone maybe, but I doubt it - sounds windy!
Post edited at 21:41
Mark Collins 30 Jul 2015
In reply to Tom Last:

Yeah I reckon they aided parts first to get shots as well, like's been done on similar expeditions. Fair play to them, I couldn't do it.
dom94 30 Jul 2015
In reply to Orgsm:

Well having heard Leo speak at tradfest in June, he said its a matter of him climbing the pitch, the camera guy aids up, Leo abs back down, the camera guy pulls all the ropes up out of the way then Leo climbs the pitch again for the photo. Massive effort for a picture but without the media exposure the sponsors would never fund the trip, seems worth it. Plus well done Leo, great effort!
Brass Nipples 30 Jul 2015
In reply to dom94:
So could gave done in 6 days but only with selfies!
Post edited at 22:59
UKB Shark 31 Jul 2015
In reply to UKC News:
Any more info? Hard to grasp the significance from the article - how hard was the aid climbing and free climbing? how good? how solid ? is the route up the middle of the face? does it take in parts of existing routes? is there a photo topo?
Post edited at 05:43
slacky 31 Jul 2015
In reply to shark:

Its all just a rehash of what Berghaus are posting on their blog as details become available, so I expect the first place you'll see such details will be at...

http://community.berghaus.com/category/mirrorwall/
bensilvestre 31 Jul 2015
In reply to shark:

Pretty sure it's a first ascent of the face so no existing routes and judging by the photos it looks hard, solid and really good.
Bob_the_Builder 31 Jul 2015
In reply to dom94:

> Well having heard Leo speak at tradfest in June, he said its a matter of him climbing the pitch, the camera guy aids up, Leo abs back down, the camera guy pulls all the ropes up out of the way then Leo climbs the pitch again for the photo. Massive effort for a picture but without the media exposure the sponsors would never fund the trip, seems worth it. Plus well done Leo, great effort!

Second pair could be leading the next pitch while the photos are being taken too I suppose? It does seem like a lot of hard work!
Scarab9 01 Aug 2015
In reply to UKC News:

Ffs ukc miseries, this is adventure and inspiring
Thanks for your attempts to pick fault.

We'll.done to the guys who were there, can't wait to here more on your experience
8
Silvan01 Aug 2015
In reply to UKC News:

The Mirror Wall has been climbed two times before by a swiss team. There is each a route from 2012 in the left and the right border of the wall but still on the face. In the same time span as Houlding and team, there were openend almost 10`000m of FA!
Trailer with infos about those exploits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa_5Rba9cuc
http://slack-line.ch/?p=2214
and
http://www.planetmountain.com/english/News/shownews1.lasso?l=2&keyid=40221
David55 01 Aug 2015
In reply to Silvan:

I am astonished that so many posts are negative. I flew back from Keflavik on Thursday morning, and Leo and the boys were in the row of seats immediately in front of me. I overheard them talking with a female passenger next to me (a molecular biologist on secondment from the US). They spoke very modestly of their climb and showed some excellent photos. I think this is a very significant achievement and they are to be congratulated,
Michael Gordon 01 Aug 2015
In reply to David55:

I can't see any negative posts above. Think folk are just wondering how they are able to get some of these shots - it's an interesting process.
Robert Durran 01 Aug 2015
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> I can't see any negative posts above.

That's because there aren't any! Some people on here just seem to equate any sort of discussion with negativity for some reason - a bit baffling really.
Post edited at 20:37
Damo 02 Aug 2015
In reply to Robert Durran:

> ... Some people on here just seem to equate any sort of discussion with negativity ...

+1 - now shut up and drink the 'positivity' Kool Aid.

Although, the inaccurate terminology in the lead paragraph doesn't help. UKC should know better and not adopt the sloppy, self-serving Americanism of describing a new routes as a 'first ascent'. They're not really the same thing and were traditionally more distinct, but 'first ascent' sounds cooler and sexier so gets used more.

Even in the same paragraph above UKC initially use 'a first ascent' then in the very next sentence use the more accurate 'new route'. But as the post above (re: other routes) shows, they're not the same thing.
1
UKB Shark 02 Aug 2015
In reply to Damo:

I think you might be in a minority of one in understanding the distinction
Robert Durran 02 Aug 2015
In reply to shark:

> I think you might be in a minority of one in understanding the distinction

There's at least two of us.
john arran 02 Aug 2015
In reply to Damo:

I've never encountered that distinction before in 38 years of climbing and I suspect it may be a mountaineering thing that's never really applied to rock routes. For example I recall guidebooks from decades ago listing the FA or FFA of all new routes, using New Route to mean the route itself and First Ascent to mean the occasion it was first climbed.
Rick Graham 02 Aug 2015
In reply to john arran:

+1

I think the confusion is over the hype in the title which infers that the Berghaus route was the first ascent of a new route and the only route on the face, hence the FA of the face.
Robert Durran 02 Aug 2015
In reply to john arran:


> I've never encountered that distinction before in 38 years of climbing and I suspect it may be a mountaineering thing that's never really applied to rock routes.

I think it is more of a mountaineering thing: you can have the first ascent of a mountain or a face or other feature of a mountain, but a new route on a previously climbed mountain or feature would not be a first ascent. However "first ascent of <named route>" (as commonly used in rock climbing) would not be a problem since it doesn't imply that the mountain or feature hasn't been climbed before. I think it is only a problem if the context might imply the first ascent of a mountain or feature when it isn't. Obviously there is a blurred distinction between pure rock climbing and mountaineering (as in this case), in which case best to be careful to avoid confusion.
Robert Durran 02 Aug 2015
In reply to Rick Graham:

> I think the confusion is over the hype in the title which infers that the Berghaus route was the first ascent of a new route and the only route on the face, hence the FA of the face.

To be fair, it says "first ascent ON the Mirror Wall" rather than "OF" so I don't think it is misleading in this case.



Robert Durran 02 Aug 2015
In reply to UKC News:

Is the rock gneiss or granite (as reported). Looks suspiciously like gneiss to me......... seems to be a common error in Greenland!
Michael Gordon 02 Aug 2015
In reply to Robert Durran:

The first and last photos look very much like granite?
jon 02 Aug 2015
In reply to Robert Durran:

This might confuse someone, though:

> Speaking before they left the UK on the trip, Paul Walker of Tangent Expeditions, the world’s leading operator of mountaineering and ski touring expeditions to Arctic Greenland, added: “After spending a lifetime climbing in the Arctic, I believe that the main face of Mirror Wall is the single most impressive unclimbed wall in the whole of Greenland. It’s an extreme objective of the highest calibre in every sense - just getting there is a major logistical challenge.”
PamPam 02 Aug 2015
In reply to Robert Durran:

It'll be pretty ancient rock being Greenland, that'd be pretty interesting to climb. If I'm right isn't gneiss a metamorphic rock that was once granite? Sorry, the geologist in me reappeared when I heard about this climb!
Robert Durran 02 Aug 2015
In reply to Michael Gordon:

> The first and last photos look very much like granite?

I would say the third and last photos (the ones of Leo climbing) look very much like Gneiss - the layering is clearly visible. The others are less conclusive, but could certainly be gneiss. Both areas I've been to in East Greenland had been reported by previous expeditions to be granite and had granite-like rock architecture but turned out to be gneiss. Also, a report on here about those mad Belgians off the boat in West Greenland talked about granite walls but the photos definitely showed gneiss. Gneiss comes in various forms and can be metamorphosed granite or metamorphosed sedimentary rock. Our own (and God's own) Lewisian gneiss is metamorphosed granite.
Michael Gordon 03 Aug 2015
In reply to Robert Durran:

I thought the last photo looked like classic granite but agree the close up one does have a gneiss type appearance.
JuneBob 03 Aug 2015
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Yeah, I've always been surprised at climbers confidence in identifying rock types. Interesting what you said about Greenland, as I was just there and was pondering how to classify the rock type we climbed. Maybe I should run some photos past the UKC geologists first...
Ben Snook 03 Aug 2015
In reply to UKC News:

As best as I can make out from the geological map from Geus (Danish Geological Survey: links below if anyone is interested) the spot that I think Mirror Wall is in has been mapped as either felsic intrusives (54) which is not particularly helpful as you could arguably describe both granites and lower grade granitic gneisses as such, or as amphibolite facies gneiss (52).

http://www.geus.dk/program-areas/raw-materials-greenl-map/greenland/gr-map/kost_12-uk.htm
http://www.geus.dk/program-areas/raw-materials-greenl-map/greenland/gr-map/kost_03-uk.htm

Hard to tell from the photos; there seems to be some lineations visible suggesting gneissic texture, but modal layering does occur in granites too. If you forced me to choose, I'd wave my arms around a bit and say lower grade granitic gneiss!

All that aside; cool bit of climbing in a cool place, nice effort!
Gordon Stainforth 03 Aug 2015
In reply to Ben Snook:

The map you've very helpfully given us suggests that it could easily be a 'felsic intrusion' (i.e. granitic??) - 54 - on the map, rather than the surrounding gneiss (52 on map)

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