Baffin Island, new climbs and fresh information from the Italian-Belgian expedition
Updates directly from the Italian-Belgian team comprised of Matteo Della Bordella, Matteo De Zaiacomo, Luca Schiera, Nicolas Favresse and Sean Villanueva currently climbing on Baffin Island. After having established a new big wall up Great Sail Peak (1,615m), the expedition has added a further two new routes to the Stewart valley.
"Life here in the Arctic consists mainly of eating, sleeping, jamming, swimming and sunbathing at the moment! We are back on the ground recharging our batteries after 12 days weaving our way through the finest acoustics of Great Sail Peak.
First of all thanks to a combined effort of the Italians and Belgians/Irish and a full rack of musical instruments we spent 7 days levitating our way up what could possibly be the first free ascent of Great Sail Peak. The climbing was exceptional! Although the wall is extremely steep, a dyke of red rock made up for unique acoustics and a wide variety of climbing styles, going from perfect cracks to face climbing and even to some 3D climbing, but always with just enough features to keep the free climbing going. We climbed 7 pitches up the headwall until our line most likely connects with the Russian Rubicon route (Alexander Odintsov, Alexander Ruchkin, Alexander Klenov, Mikhail Davy, Valery Rozov 05/2002, VI A4) for another 8 pitches to the top.
We reached the summit in perfect weather and mind-blowing views right as Matteo turned 32! What a birthday present! We celebrated each of us with our own style, with some of us eating a block of cheese or posing with a flag, while others stripped naked, trundled down stones or even defacated! It was truly a magical moment.
With still enough food for a few more days and many appealing lines calling us, we couldn't not try to climb something more! We rapped down the headwall and after a couple days of rest and a concerto at its base, we found some inspiration to go for it again.
This time we divided ourselves in two teams to tackle in alpine style its two main unclimbed dihedral systems. Both lines turned out to be exceptional in quality with mostly clean splitter crack systems. 100m short from the summit Sean and Nico got caught by bad weather and were forced to improvise a bivy in order to wait for better free climbing conditions. After about 8 hours of shivering fortunately their patience paid off and the sunshine came back, allowing them to free climb the last crucial link of the free ascent: a 30m unprotectable slab! Meanwhile the Italians had pushed through the ferocious weather completing their climb in 24h round trip camp to camp.
All the best from Stewart valley!
by Matteo Della Bordella, Matteo De Zaiacomo, Luca Schiera, Nicolas Favresse and Sean Villanueva"
05/07/2016 - Baffin Island, new big wall by Belgian-Italian team in Stewart Valley
01/10/2014 - Greenland 2014 and Baffin island: climbing at Gibbs Fjord by Favresse, Ditto and Villanueva