Siebe Vanhee | Greenland Chapter 3: The Titan objective – disappointments present…
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Greenland Chapter 3: The Titan objective – disappointments present…

Greenland Chapter 3: The Titan objective – disappointments present…

The Titans: Titan 1 (Left) and Titan 2 (Right)
From the Klosterdalen basecamp beneath Ketil Fjeld we could see two big walls deeper into the valley. Those walls were called ‘The Titans’, two walls of more or less 900 (Titan 1) and 700 meters (Titan 2). From the information we gathered in Nanortalik we knew a Dutch team had climbed the southeast pillar on Titan 1. The Titan 2 remained unclimbed, so we decided this could be the perfect objective for the next weeks. We guessed it would be a two to three day hike from the Klosterdalen basecamp with each two bags of more or less 35 kilo’s. After kayaking back to Klosterdalen basecamp from the Tasermiut basecamp on day 19, we prepared our bags for a two week trip towards the Titans. Our kayaks, some extra gear and four weeks worth of food we left at the entrance of the Klosterdalen valley. On day 20 we waited the rain in basecamp when on day 21 we took off in the direction of the Titans.

Preparing two bags each for a two week trip to the Titans.
Tim and I in the ‘wannabe’ trees!

From the start the hike was rough. This area is remote and has not seen many people pass. Despite the fact Greenland has no real trees, from the start we bumped into some ‘wannebee’ trees that are actually bushes, only they are high and dense. Those dense little f*ckers promised to be a pain in the ass when we had to conquer them with our big fat haulbags. Luckily after only 20 minutes off bushwhacking we arrived at a large flat meadow in the lowest part of the valley. 

The watery meadow!

Unlike the nice meadows beneath El Capitan (Yosemite) these meadows exist out of moss, a lot of water and river systems. In this part of the trip our waterproof alpine shoes came in really handy. Every step we moved we sank twenty centimetres into the mossy underground. A two hour hike criss-crossing in between small water pools, wetland and rivers brought us to the base of the hill that gains 600 meters in altitude,
but that part we didn’t concurred immediately. 

We still had to go back to the entrance of the valley to pick up our second backpack. We packed two bags each to make the hike more comfortable. But when we lifted that second bag, we already regretted our bad dividing skills. With a second bag of almost 40 kilo’s we hiked again through the bushes into the swamp like meadow. Once arrived at our first bag we still had some daytime left and continued 1/4 up the hill, again we walked this bit back and forward two times with the two bags. Here we found a flat spot and pitched our tent. A great relief overwhelmed us when lying down next to the tent, it had been a hard but satisfying day. One or two more days further we would be at the base of the Titans. But still, a hard uphill hike on a big talus field was lying ahead of us.

First camp on the Klosterdalen trekking after the wet meadow!
Day 22, without a flat warm up hike, we started the day hiking straight uphill. In only one hour we reached the small lake on top of the hill. The hike over the talus fields was risky, the chance we would twist an ankle was high, walking with these heavy bags. After the return and second bag we continued crossing the lake on the north side. Here we were at the highest point of the valley, we called this part ‘the dead valley’ because the environment was cold, poor of vegetation, full of loose rocks and glaciers. In this spot we felt alone, besides one big white hare we were very alone and far away from everything. Still in one day, we could continue after the lake towards the base of Titan 1, where we made our second camp. From now on we had a good view of the walls Titan 1 and 2. Against all our expectations it looked like the quality of the rock of Titan 2 couldn’t offer us a great big wall to attempt. It looked like choss and a lot of permanently wet streaks where all over the wall. So, the dream of the first ascent of Titan 2 we let go. Although Titan 1 had been climbed on the southeast pillar we thought the southwest face offered us a nice new objective; steep, long and various climbing. But also with this wall we had our hesitations about the rock quality. It was hard to see from basecamp if the rock was worth it, you can’t know until you try. On day 23 we hiked up the steep approach to the base of the wall.

The steep talusfield with the lake above the col. 

The worrying face of Tim below the steep face of Titan 1.

For about one hour Tim and I sat down beneath the wall. Hesitation about the quality of the rock was dominant. The rock didn’t look any better from this point of view. But still, we were keen to climb some big walls right now. This was a hard moment, should we attempt or not? Both of us had hesitations about the rock quality and with that in mind we weren’t completely convinced to give it a try. This was an annoying moment for both of us, we had to make an important decision, clouded by doubt and eagerness. For any kind of climbing you have to be confident, trust yourself and your partner and it just has to feel right. At this moment I don’t think we were confident enough to go for it, doubting the rock quality. The rock seemed way too poor. We decided to go down and leave the Titans for what they are.

Chilling after our second day hiking in basecamp below the Titans.
Basecamp under the Titans, time to decide…

But now… what now…? We hiked almost half the Klosterdalen valley with 130 kilo’s of gear. Just going back didn’t appeal to us at all! In about ten minutes time we decided we would cross the whole Klosterdalen valley and continue towards the other fjords with the walls; The Thumbnail, Igdlorssuit Havn and the whole Pamiagdluk Island full of great walls. Constantly changing plans is exhausting and demands a lot of flexibility. 

But after the big disappointment in those two Titans we found new energy when we aimed for the unknown at the other valley entrance. This new goal meant again a lot of hiking, kayaking and more days without climbing. In the mean time we started to trust the Greenlandic high pressure system around us and relied on the continuously good weather.

A few days later… (day 26)

I got into my kayak, the current was quicker as I expected and before I entirely noticed I slid down the shallow river. I approached the first curve quickly and didn’t know if the current was going to accelerate, or even worse, the river that gets even wilder behind it. Tim was ahead of me so I should be able to see him on time before the water gets too wild for our rubber kayaks loaded with climbing gear. Like we agreed before he took off five minutes before me, he would be waiting somewhere on the side for me. I cruised through some curves like a pro kayaker in a rubber boat! The river wasn’t deep but the current was quick so capsizing was not an option or we would lose our gear floating away. One last curve and there he was, Tim was waiting for me. “Fuck hiking with 35kg on bushy, rocky and sketchy underground, look at me I’m flying down to the valley now!” I screamed to Tim. I passed Tim and this time he followed me, this was even more exciting because I didn’t know what kind of water was ahead of me…

In “Chapter 4: Earth and Water – Towards the unknown fjords and a new objective” you will discover our experiences crossing one of the prettiest valleys we’ve both ever seen!

See you soon for the next chapter…

On top of the Talusfield.
Tired and ready for lunch after carrying two bags over the Talusfield.
Colourful rocks lying around in the meadow. 
Amazing meadow!
The small lake after the talusfield, the highest point of the valley! 
Our treats after hiking: a mixture of vitamins, sugar and animal bones!
Tim hiking in the meadow next to a beautiful clear river! 

A view on the small lake from the base of the Titan 1.
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