BD athlete Nico Favresse reports on new 850-meter free climb on Greenland sea cliff
Black Diamond athlete Nico Favresse has teamed up with his brother Olivier, Sean Vilanueva and Ben Ditto to establish a new 850-meter free climb on a massive granite sea cliff off the coast of Greenland. Below is Nico’s report from the climb and some amazing photos from Ditto.
On July 12 we committed to “the impossible wall”. After eight days we found ourselves on the summit on July 22. So how is it possible that we passed 11 days in only eight, you might be asking yourself? The answer my friend lies in the burning midnight sun and 30 hour-days or nights—or whatever you want to call it. Our efforts on the wall and on our musical instruments yielded probably the most adventurous route we have ever done. It has everything: grassy cracks, spongy mossy cracks, licheny faces, kitty-litter offwidths and a built-in shower. We got rained on, we got shat on and we got vomited on. We now understand better why the locals call it “Seagull Wall”.
“Go climb that wall! And don’t come back unless you do!” Captain Reverend Bob shouted up at us on July 12 as we stepped straight off the boat on to the wall. Captain Reverend Bob’s commitment to our efforts was full on, putting his boat on the line on more than one occasion. May we remind you that he is the owner of two boats in Greenland—one he keeps anchored secretly below the surface... The first few cracks were fit for a lawn mower. Unfortunately we didn’t have that on our rack, so an ice axe had to do the job. To keep the adventurous spirit of the climb we tried to leave in as much as we could.
Every pitch of the 850-meter wall offered incredibly beautiful, sustained climbing, always challenging, on superb quality granite. We are very happy to have free-climbed the whole thing (if grabbing grass is accepted as free). We decided to name this new line “The Devil’s Brew” after a little present we offered Bob when we first met him and which he calls the Devil’s Brew. Also, it remarkably resembles the water—both in colour and taste—we collected on the wall that was running from a black hole.
One of the main question marks of the line we wanted to climb was a big mysterious overhanging black hole. The closer we got to it to scarier and more intimidating it seemed. After our second day on the wall it started to rain hard... very hard. First day we were happy because it gave us some time to play music and enjoy being there. The second day everything slowly started getting wet and things seemed a little more interesting. The third day the rain stopped but strangely the water didn’t stop falling down on us... it seemed we had placed our portaledges in a waterfall, which apparently originated from the black hole. The advantage being that we had running water at our portaledge flavoured with bird droppings, which lead to awkward repercussions on the ultimate pitch. We would rather not describe this to you here in too much detail.... however, the black hole became even more obscure.
Climbing this wall was like climbing in heaven. The feeling of climbing straight above the sea was incredible with its colour changing all day long from dark to light blue, sometimes even black when the storm came in. Our daily spectacle included the movements of huge icebergs floating by and breaking apart and the clouds that went from above us to in us, to finishing below us and replacing the water with a sea of clouds
We are particularly proud that we left nothing behind: no bolts, no pitons, no cordelette. The only things repeaters may find extra are a few more brown falcons on the wall but we suspect they have already left. We topped out on the summit with all our gear and portaledges and hiked down to the coast to celebrate our adventure with champagne and freshly caught fish. Later that night we awoke to a raging storm that lasted for a few days so we were very unfortunate not to have experienced that while still on the wall.
We are now slowly sailing south exploring fjords. Hopefully we will find more big walls to enjoy more adventures before sailing back across the Atlantic.