Leo 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.
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!
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!
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?
> 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!
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,
> ... 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.
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.
> 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.
> 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.”
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!
> 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.
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...
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).
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!