Trip Report
Welcome to the Land of Fulmar (Greenland attempted new route)
Monday September 9, 2013 10:37am
The wall. We were climbing on the obvious clean pillar immediately to ...
The wall. We were climbing on the obvious clean pillar immediately to the left of the sail. Our best guess on scale is that the pillar is approx 600m tall and the whole wall about 1500m. Some serious foreshortening going on.
Credit: Jane Gallwey

Iím sitting on a ledge and the world seems perfect. I light a cigarette and make myself some tea. The view makes my throat catch, from the snow covered peaks to the towering walls with an iceberg filled fjord in between. Iíve found whatever I was looking for on this trip, an enjoyment of this experience. In factual terms, however, it hadn't been the most enjoyable of experiences.

It started about 18 hours previously, when we landed from the dingy at the base of the wall which was to be our last attempt at a 'big wall' for the trip. While I had been enjoying the previous climbing on the trip I was taking a while to warm up to it and had mostly been seconding. My climbing partners had pulled out all the stops on an amazing new route ďNorth of DiskoĒ E5 6a/5.11 9 pitches, 22 hr day. I on the other hand had pulled on the gear, the other rope and anything I could get my hands on really. (The story of that route is a good one but I donít really feel it is mine to tell, Iíll see if my partners will post up later.)

By now however I was psyched. Time to go suffer. We did some filming with Colin and Claire on the first pitch and after they abseiled down Steve and I carried on.

Saying goodbye to the boat.
Saying goodbye to the boat.
Credit: Jane Gallwey

First I did an easy pitch that didnít have any gear for about 30m. When I asked how much rope I had left after finally finding some gear I heard Steve shout
"20 meters".
I asked "What happened to the halfway shout?"
"I didn't want to shout halfway before you had any gear in, thought it might be worrying information to receive!"

My anchor was relatively crap, two crumbly cams and a #1 peenut so Steve did another short pitch to find a hauling anchor and then I descended to fetch the piggy. Thus began the first circle of hell. Trying to haul a stuck pig up a 45 degree grass slope while being feasted on by mosquitoes ended with me calling for help in the form of Steve with bug spray. We eventually got the pig to our third anchor, ate some dehydrated curry for dinner and then I led off on another pitch. Happily climbing up a nice easy arÍte I had my first fulmar encounter. I popped my head over a ledge and there was one tipping back its head preparing to fire. Steve was in hysterics at my whimpers of vomit related fear.

Ready to fire
Ready to fire
Credit: Jane Gallwey

"Oh, oh, there's a bird here."
"Oh no its trying to vomit on me"
"Awww, there's a baby one too"
"Uuughhh sh#t, it got me."
"But it's so cute and ickle and fluffy"
"But it's vomit is so red and putrid and sticky.."

Ickle baby bird
Ickle baby bird
Credit: Jane Gallwey

I made an executive decision to traverse off and found an excellently positioned belay below four of them so that Steve could also enjoy the experience. We had been told that the baby fulmars donít vomit on you Ė not true. Steve negotiated his way through the birds and led up an adventurous pitch as some bad weather closed in. We were going light-ish with originally one sleeping bag and bivvy bag between us and no portaledge or tent. At the last minute we threw in a second sleeping bag. Still we didn't have the gear to sit out a storm. As this was our last chance for climbing we decided to stick it out for another 6 hours then if it hadn't stopped we'd bail. Lots of rain and cold wind followed while I perched on a wee ledge, periodically being vomited on by a bird far above with excellent aim. Because it doesn't get dark this far north the days just sort of blend together. I think it was about midnight while I was belaying, lost in my own world and huddled into my jacket.

At some point I heard Steve far above shout something about the ĎLand of Fulmarí and the number 23 but I got no further clarification. A long, cold and wet rope ascent followed.
I only had one jumar (Steve was hauling with the other one) and I was tied into both ropes, unable to communicate to Steve to pull up the one I wasn't jugging. Between the two ropes all tied to me in coils and backup knots, the jumar/prusik combo and the wandering low angle terrain complete with strategically placed vomiting birds it was the greatest clusterf*ck I have ever experienced. The haulbag also got stuck many many times, each time I dislodged it more rocks would come down from above and below. The first bag stuck was particularly funny. It was totally jammed up under a roof and Steve had hauled it too tight for me to pop it out. As Steve is actually a badass free climber he did not know how to lower a haulbag, so I decided to try and fix it from my vantage point. This involved jumping from the pillar I was on to the pig, with my weight just enough to pop it over the roof. After that I also tied the haulline to myself, adding the massive rope cluster.

When I finally dragged myself, the ropes and the piggy over the last birdshit covered rock (caution - slippery when wet), I saw a very sick looking Steve, who greeted me with ĎWelcome to the land of fulmarí. There were 23 vomiting birds on a ledge the size of Wino Tower but covered in grass. Steve had a migraine that wasnít helped by the hauling and as soon as the bag arrived he proceeded to vomit in the general direction of the birds and unfortunately on one of only two flat-ish spots on the steep grassy ledge. Iíve never seen anyone look so green. Shows how tough he is that he managed to get the bag up at all. He just about managed to get himself to bed on the other vaguely flat spot with some bivvy bag assistance. "Legs up - arse up - arms up, there you go" That was at 2am. With no lying down spots available that werenít filled with Steve or his vomit, I found a perch and got some sitting down sleep, periodically checking to see that Steve hadn't choked on his vomit or got too cold. I could only get my legs zipped up into my sleeping bag as I would slide down the steep hill if I sat on the slippery fabric. This made me extremely glad to have a really warm down jacket. Four hours of dozing brings us up to date.

Bed. Steeper than it looks, note angle of haulbag.
Bed. Steeper than it looks, note angle of haulbag.
Credit: Jane Gallwey

Itís raining, Iím sleep deprived and Iím covered in so much fulmar sh#t and vomit that I gag when I move. Everything it utterly fouled by fowl. Soon there will be a long exhausting pig riding descent, a barrel stowed in the boat labelled 'fulmar most foul', acceptance of another failure and disappointment that the climbing is over. On the way down there will also be laughter and jokes and two friends enjoying having made it back again. At the bottom of the cliff I will laugh harder than I ever have in my life, at Steve's fulmar impression, complete with eye rolling, gagging and a funny voice "That's a very nice jacket you have there. Looks like it could do with some vomit on it..."

Happy back near ground level. Steve has remarkably long arms to have t...
Happy back near ground level. Steve has remarkably long arms to have taken this photo. Took us about 10 shots to get us both in the frame - we were pretty tired!
Credit: Jane Gallwey

For now though there is just me, a sleeping Steve and many birds; on a perch at the end of the world and I love it.


Going down...
Going down...
Credit: Jane Gallwey

(No fulmars were harmed accidentally or on purpose during the making of this trip report. We can attest that the very few that flew off instead of staying to vomit returned almost immediately.)

Thanks to Berghaus for the amazing red jacket,kept me very warm that night and even survived the post incident washing in an undecipherable Greenlandic launderette.

  Trip Report Views: 3,236
Jane Gallwey
About the Author
Jane Gallwey is the slowest big wall climber in Ireland.

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Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Sep 9, 2013 - 12:27pm PT
"Trying to haul a stuck pig up a 45 degree grass slope while being feasted on by mosquitoes..."

And I thought this was the bad part!

thanks Jane.

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
  Sep 9, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
Very nice trip report. Your first picture had me thinking how cool that wall looked. By the end I was a little less sure...

Trad climber
under the sea
  Sep 9, 2013 - 03:28pm PT
Love it thanks for sharing! Nice to see what you've been up to after that sweet lurking fear TR!

Social climber
  Sep 9, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
Ahh, the fulmars!

You gotta acclimate: eat lots of anchovies, dribble the juice on your clothes, get used to the aroma before you go.

That way the fulmar vomit won't bother you one bit....

maybe...... :-)

  Sep 9, 2013 - 07:40pm PT
How do they do it? Do they fly at you and vomit?

If not, how far can they projectile vomit?

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Sep 9, 2013 - 07:50pm PT
A+ for identifying new ways to enjoy life and entertain us in the midst of crap. And vomit.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 10, 2013 - 08:04pm PT
"Everything it utterly fouled by fowl."

A truely excellent line in a truly excellent TR, Thanks!!!!!

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Sep 12, 2013 - 11:02am PT
Another Jane in the rain TR, another great adventure. THanks for sharing.

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Sep 13, 2013 - 04:06am PT
At last a Trip Report from Greenland that shows shitty rock, grass, puking birds etc.

I am sooo tired of the sanitised perfect rock, clean sends and bronzed athletic prowess that usually gets put about.

I enjoy your adventures - keep posting.


Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
  Sep 13, 2013 - 07:31am PT
Nice TR, TFPU. The wall in the first pic looks a lot cleaner than in the rest of the photos.

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe
  Sep 13, 2013 - 09:36am PT
Great adventure, thanks for sharing!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Sep 13, 2013 - 12:33pm PT
Wow, you better call me the next time you head that way.

Trad climber
  May 23, 2014 - 03:18am PT
Just wanted to add a link to the trip report that Jane said she'd try to convince me to post in her report. Here's a write up on North Of Disko...only took me 8 months :)
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