BD athlete Hanna Mellin summits in Greenland
Black Diamond Grassroots athlete Hanna Mellin teamed up with six other Swedish climbers for a four-week trip to the famed towers of Greenland's Tasermiut Fjord, where she and Hilde Bjørgaas made what is thought to be the first female team ascent of the 800-meter Nalumasortoq as well as other climbs. Below is Hanna's report from her Greenland adventures
My eyes are slowly closing. I’m fighting it, but my eyes are slowly closing. Desperate I try to keep them open by concentrating on encouraging Hilde. But I’m so tired. Maybe it’s ok if I close them just for a second? Maybe then the bitter cold and my wet clothes will feel just a little bit warmer? I wake up. The rope is moving. Upward. I give out some slack and my eyes close again. Hilde is moving slowly, but fighting upwards with her not perfect aid technique. We have been so slow the last hour… or is it longer? I’m shaking. Looking at the watch: 00.17. I try to get comfortable at the sloping hanging belay but my hips have gotten numb a long time ago and it’s useless to try.
But so far so good and we have had a wonderful day, better than we could hope for. We couldn’t believe it when we woke up at 5 AM to blue skies and perfect temperature. Waking up to clear blue sky is nothing you take for granted on Greenland. But now, after a few attempts to Nalumarsortuq we’re finally getting a chance with good weather. The British Route starts 5.11+, 5.11, 5.11- and we send. Easy! According to the topo we just have ten or so easier pitches until it starts again with 5.12.
We laugh and joke about how we’re going to hike the easier 5.10 pitches, but the joke is on us and Nalu slaps us down. Yeah, on the ground in the sun, hiking the 5.10s seemed doable. But now our hands, arms and ankles are torn and bitter is the regret of having not brought anything bigger than one Camalot #4. Somehow I ended up leading the wide sections and looking upwards I realized that my #4 is way too small. Laybacking appears like the only option. Fast and furious is my motto on the big-sized cracks. Hilde is taken aback when she sees me, the girl that always try to jam, laybacking instead. It’s damn hard. It’s scary but we want that summit so bad.
The snowfall from last week is slowly melting and the sun is helping out. We are wet from the meltwater, the cracks are soaked and most of our gear is wet. Our initial goal to freeclimb British Route is destroyed. Now we’re trying to finish the route, no matter how wet the rock is, how late it will be or how much French-freeing we have to do. But Hilde is moving slow and my eyes are slowly closing. Wrecked from my last lead I slump at the belay while Hilde is waging her own war, alone, just one pitch from the summit… so close. Ever so slowly the rope pays out through my ATC. Then it stops. I stare at the rope. It moves again. Then she calls and I clean the belay and start to follow. An hour or so later we stand together on the summit of Nalumarsortuq and under the midnight sun we celebrate in the cold: the last Powerbar and a shot of Baileys. The taste stays with us a few rappels down.
After resting a few days we wanted to do something more comfortable. Thus, with the haulbag filled with warm clothes, all sorts of food and candy, sleeping bags and every luxury you can think of we set out for War and Poetry on Ulamertorssoq. We got two days of good weather before the rain shut us down for another two days. No worries. We sit in the portaledge and hang out, solving the questions about life, love and everything else. Then another perfect day! Beautiful rock, perfect cracks and we push for the summit until... we bail, because perfect has turned to sketchy, loose and scary. Cold, wet and scared about three pitches from the top we back off and rap from a Camalot #5 and Camalot #6. Well, you don’t always get what you want, but we drank the celebration Baileys anyway.