Saturday, October 29, 2011

-throwback- Greenland 2007: Chapter Four- Tent Life

We did one more big climb, and I scrambled up a peak on my own at the very end of the trip, but before we get into that I'd like to detail a little of our camp life. After all, even though we climbed for up to 26 hours at a time, the vast majority of our time in Greenland was spent not climbing. When not climbing, we hiked around a bit, taking pictures and looking at potential routes. We also played about 800 rounds of cards, specifically Hearts.  None of us have real stressful lives at home.  Heck, we're little more than climbing bums, working only enough to get to the next trip.  But, we still look forward to the down time on expeditions.  Conversations, games, reading, even just sitting around is a welcome and much anticipated part of the process.  Annie thinks she read 10 books while we were out there.  I sewed up all the holes in my clothes that had collected over the years.  Nate wrote in his journal, sometimes writing things that happened two years prior.  Kadin and Darcy probably itched to do more than we did.  There were times when I wanted to get out and do more physical activity, but in general the balance of down time to go time seemed appropriate. 

In a simpler lifestyle, one without communications and little technology (though there were 6 digital cameras, 4 ipods- including some videos, and one little solar charger to feed the beasts...) meal time takes on additional meaning and becomes a much more enjoyable process.  Beyond mere sustenance, planning, cooking and eating meals became events.  One day Josh cooked 12 pizzas.  Each of us ate our fill of pizza that day, but really did nothing else.  Kadin perfected backcountry bread that, of course at the time, seemed better than anything else we had tasted.  Even pasta, usually a simple meal, plugged into a home menu when nothing else comes up, can take multiple steps and approach gourmet status.  One of my favorite meals of all time is backcountry fried pasta.  You cook pasta like usual, any shape is fine, and then fry it in lots of oil until it gets partly crispy.  Add garlic, tons of salt, cheese and pepperoni- delicious.  The frying process had the additional benefit of cooking the stank out of the nasty 8 month-old (and not old in a good way...) Greenlandic cheese.  It actually kinda dissappears.  I lost interest in the pasta dishes, however, when we ran out of pepperoni and began to substitute fish canned in tomato sauce.  Not my favorite. 

Kadin on Pizza Day.

For our last big climb Annie and I teamed up with Darcy, whom we hadn't climbed with yet. We never ended up climbing with Josh at all. Annie and Darcy and I set out to do the East Trillingerne Peak. Behind our Fox Jaw Cirque, looming above the summits and walls, were the Trillingerne- Triplet in Danish- Peaks. Storbror, the Big Brother, is the tallest and most difficult. The middle one is remote and pointed. The East Peak is the middle child, and presents the easiest and most accessible route to a Trillingerne summit. To access the Trillingerne Peaks we first hiked to the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut. The hut is owned and maintained by a Danish doctor, Hans Christian Florian. Hans lives in the town of Tasiilaq, skis and climbs all over the area, keeps the climbing records and history of the Ammassalik District and serves as the unofficial liason between visiting climbers and local people. He provided us with info before the trip, invited us to check out the hut, and collected info on our climbs as we left.
We crashed outside of the hut, leaving the beds for a paying group of very attractive Norwegian women and their adventurous fathers. Interaction with this group was our first real touch with the outside world- awkward enough. On top of our fascination with any humans outside of our little group, the novelty of very attractive women was almost too much to handle. Darcy fell in love and couldn't stop talking about them.

Anyway, early one morning we took off from the Hut, traveled about 6 miles along a fairly flat glacier and began our climb. The climb, above the glacier, was 1000 meters of ridge-line scrambling. Mixed into easier blocky terrain were steps of more technical climbing requiring the full gamut of rope techniques. As a party of three we moved more slowly than a route like this requires and found ourselves 12 hours out and only half way UP the climb. 6-8 hours of climbing were ahead of us, as well as 10-12 hours of descending and retracing our steps to the hut and our sleeping bags. We took some pictures, enjoyed the fresh views, and turned around. By that time we were more or less content with our trip, and if anything a bit burnt out on the mental demands of first-ascent and remote rock climbing. These alpine environments, even with a comfy basecamp and seemingly endless pizza supply, tax the brain and stress the nerves. In a sense, a big remote mountain face or ridge is like a battle ground. One must stay on constant guard, strategizing, watching out for dangers, changing the plan as conditions change. Not to mention the weather and possibility of trouble in that realm. All this mental stress, compounded by athletic exertion can wear a body down. We were well trained and somewhat ready for the stresses but still were worn out by the end of the trip. It would have been nice to summit Trillingerne but it also feels nice to have left wanting more.

Next Chapter, getting home. More adventurous than we really bargained for.

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