Baffin and Greenland Big Walls for 'Wild Bunch'

by Natalie Berry - UKC Oct/2014
This news story has been read 9,291 times

This summer the ‘Wild Bunch’ - Nico and Olivier Favresse, Sean Villaneuva and Ben Ditto - made ten extreme new big wall ascents from E3 to E6 in West Greenland and East Baffin.

Having won the Piolet d'Or in 2011 following their climbing and sailing trip to Greenland in 2010 (UKC News Report), this year's three month trip which began in July proved to be equally as successful. All ten routes were done without any use of aid, which is especially noteworthy in Sam Ford Fjord and Gibbs Fjord (Baffin), where nearly all previous routes had been done with aid.

Reporting on his blog, Nico explained: "In total we opened 10 new routes from 400m to 1000m climbed in alpine style. We used the boat as a base camp and method of transportation to the base of each climb. We placed no bolts or pitons. Five routes were put up in Greenland, Uummannaq area, four in Sam Ford Fjord, Baffin Island and one in Gibbs Fjord, Baffin Island."

Bob Shepton, Sean Villanueva and Nico Favresse on their 2010 expedition, 137 kbBob Shepton, Sean Villanueva and Nico Favresse on their 2010 expedition
© Greenland Exped 2010

The big walls were completed in Alpine style pushes of 20-24 hours, although Bob joked: "but one could count as an E5 speed route of 12 hours." With a three day connecting sea passage in Bob Shepton's 10 metre sailing boat Dodo's Delight between the two locations, Bob reports that the team were "weaving through ice in the last miles."

The 'Wild Bunch' aboard the Dodo's Delight in Greenland, 39 kbThe 'Wild Bunch' aboard the Dodo's Delight in Greenland
© Bob Shepton

He added: "Of course there was also plenty of composition of new songs in jam sessions, usually when the skipper wanted to go to sleep..."

Below is a summary of the climbs taken from Nico's blog:

Summary of Climbs (co-ordinates are taken from the sea opposite the start of routes)

Greenland, West coast
Uummannaq Area

Ikerasak Peak
Married Mens’ Way, E3, 5.10, 400 meters.
Takes the left ridge of this peak. FA (free): Oli Favresse, Ben Ditto 13 July 2014
Crockodiles Have Teeth, E5, 5.11b/c, 400 meters.
The right hand edge of the main face, moving right at the top to finish by an overhanging crack. FA (free): Nico Favresse, Sean Villaneuva 13 July
2014
Descend : Walking on the back side

 

Qaqugdlugssuit
First ascent of Goliath Butress (700 41N 510 13W)
Standard Deviation, E 4 , 5.11, 500 meters.
Followed lines on left of this buttress, some loose rock especially in the basalt band. FA (free): Nico Favresse, Ben Ditto 17 July 2014
Slingshot E 3 , 5.10, 500 meters. 
Followed lines on right side of buttress. FA (free) Oli Favresse, Sean Villaneuva 17 July 2014
Descend : Walking on the back side

 

Drygalskis Halvo
First ascent of the Funky Tower (70035N 510 16W)
No Place for People,a.k.a.Sunshine and Roses, E6, 5.12a, 500 meters
A steep, varied, technical line towards the left side of this face. Reports of much loose rock, especially on the sloping terrace leading to the summit ridge. FA (free) Sean Villaneuva, Ben Ditto
Descend : Walking on the back side

 

Baffin, east coast
Sam Ford Fjord

Lurking Tower (Mike Libecki’s name – 700 35N 710 17W)
Up the Creek without a Paddle, E 5 6a , 5.11+, 500 meters
Starts up the dihedral on the right and follows crack lines, turning a roof, to the top. Libecki’s aid route was followed after 7pitches but without using any of the aid nor bolts. First Free Ascent: Sean
Villaneuva, Ben Ditto 12 hours 15/16 August 2014
Descend : Walking on the back side

 

SuperUnknown Tower
Imaginary Line, E3 5c, 5.10+, 1000 meters
Takes the obvious red groove and crack on the right of the Tower leading almost to the top. The hardest pitches were after the groove at the
top, especially as it was wet and snowy. This was the second ascent of the SuperUnknown Tower. FFA: Sean Villaneuva, Ben Ditto 21/22
August 2014
Descend : A rappel to remember straight down the original sheer aid route.

 

Walker Citadel
First ascent of the South East Pillar (Drunken Pillar) (700 50N 710 43W)
Shepton’s Shove, E6 6b, 5.12a, 1000 meters
The obvious arête starting all the way down and leading to the top of the Pillar. The hardest pitches were at the top. FA (free): Nico Favresse,
Oli Favresse 23/24 August 2014
Descend :Walk south to another summit and down into a gulley leading to a lake.

 

The Turret
First ascent of the East face of the Turret
Life on the Kedge, E6 6b, sustain in the 5.11/5.12 range , 900 meters
Start on the buttress just to the right of the iconic chimney crack splitting the Turret from top to bottom, and takes the obvious orange pillar.
Mid ways up, the lines goes on the left hand side where the cracks just kept coming out of nowhere!
FA Nico Favresse, Oli Favresse 28/29 August 2014
Descend : 10 raps down the swiss route straight from the top

 

Gibbs Fjord
First ascent of the Plank Wall (700 50N 710 43W)
Walking the Plank, E4 6a, 5.11+, 900 meters
Keeps mostly slightly left of the arête. Another quality climb with lot’s of steep cracks and excellent rock! But north facing, little sun. Sections
were climbed covered in snow.
FA Nico Favresse, Sean Villaneuva 4/5 September 2014
Descend: Rapping the route

 

You can follow the previous Greenland adventures of the 'Wild Bunch' in the film Vertical Sailing, which was used in a UKC Video Feature here.

 

The team is sponsored by: Belclimb.net, Belgian Alpine Club, Black Diamond, Care Plus, Climb.be, Five Ten, Julbo, Patagonia, Petzl, Seeonee and Sterling Rope

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