Baffin Island, Ragni return after new routes
More news 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. The climbers have forged a further two new routes in Stewart valley and the Ragni di Lecco alpinists are now returning.
"For the past 3 days we keep on making goodbye parties because the Ragni di Lecco are preparing their journey back to Clyde River. To keep them alive along the 160km of untamed wilderness that separate us from civilisation they will have to paddle on small inflatable kayaks across wide, icy and windy fjords. The ice has just cleared up from where we are, guaranteeing an ideal swimming water temperature.
Matteo Della Bordella, Matteo De Zaiacomo and Luca Schiera will have to fight polar bears who, due to the disappearance of the ice are having a harder time to hunt, might find some interest in the smell of three skinny Italians. And they will also have to survive their pizza withdrawal symptoms. So all this provides a good reason to make a decent goodbye party. If only the weather would allow them to leave, but a storm has been blasting for the past 3 days, keeping us stranded in our tents while the wind keeps on raging with snow and rain.
But if the weather is bad now, at least one thing we are sure of is that the good weather will return, just as it did last week. This allowed us to put up two more new routes in Stewart Valley on a couple of formations across the lake from Great Sail Peak.
The first crux of both climbs came early, when the lake ice gave way under our feet, forcing us to turn our pack rafts into ice breakers. None of us had done this before! Apart from this, both climbs involved a good share of wide climbing.
While Sean and Matteo thought they had found a perfect line, they were stopped 40m short of the summit, below an unprotectable slab that forced them to back off for 3 pitches and connect to another crack system that led them to the summit. The highlight of Luca and Nico’s climb was a 70m splitter crack, similar to that found on the famous Eternal flame on Trango Tower. Of course all the usual ceremonies were carried out on the summit, making it an even more magical moment.
We are now back by the sea, hearing the sound of the waves crashing in, where a month ago we had skiied... what an incredible change! As soon as the weather clears up the Ragni will be on their packrafts, while Sean and Nico hope to climb some more as they wait for the Maewan sailboat to come pick them up.
Wish us luck!
Matteo Della Bordella, Matteo De Zaiacomo, Luca Schiera, Nicolas Favresse and Sean Villanueva"
Editor's Note: in the meatime the Italians have departed and are currently making their way back to Clyde River
01/10/2014 - Greenland 2014 and Baffin island: climbing at Gibbs Fjord by Favresse, Ditto and Villanueva
05/07/2016 - Baffin Island, new big wall by Belgian-Italian team in Stewart Valley
12/07/2016 - Baffin Island, new climbs and fresh information from the Italian-Belgian expedition