Saturday, February 16, 2013

Oxford Greenland Expedition

I sometimes wonder about the mix of topics I mention on this blog – is there too much physics, or not enough? Well, today's post is about something completely different: it is a straight-up publicity plug for the Oxford Greenland Expedition. This is a sea-faring and rock-climbing expedition organised by a group of students, and is exactly the kind of exciting exploratory adventure to which the title of this blog refers, so I'd like to support it as best I can. They have a fundraising page here. As I'll try to explain, I think it is a great plan, and they deserve all the support they can get!

The climbing members of the expedition team are all current or former students of Oxford University, and members of the Oxford University Mountaineering Club, whom I have known for a varying number of years (I've climbed on the same rope as many but not all of them). Between them, they have dreamt up an outrageously bold and brilliant plan for a climbing expedition in the Arctic – as the 'Objectives' page of their website puts it, their goals are:
  1. Sail to Greenland!
  2. Climb the Horn of Upernavik!
  3. Sail north! Find an 800 m pillar! Climb it!
  4. Explore for new climbs!
  5. Sail back!
(The rest of the website is quite amusing too, if you poke around it.) The Horn of Upernavik appears to be a very dramatic 1000-metre-high piece of rock rising straight out of the sea near Uummannaq:

The Horn of Upernavik.
It has apparently also been the objective of several previous expeditions to climb the Horn, but none of them have succeeded. So if this team succeeds, they will be making (a small amount of) history ...

Although all are very good climbers and mountaineers, they are definitely firmly within the ranks of the enthusiastic amateurs rather than elite professionals. I think this makes the audacity of the undertaking all the more wonderful, and appealing to romantic ideals.

Incidentally, two of the members of this team (Ian Faulkner and Tom Codrington) were last year part of a different and equally inspiring expedition to Krygyzstan, during which they, along with Ian Cooper, made only the second ever free ascent of the Mirror Route or Rusyaev Route on Peak 4810, after Alex Lowe and Lynn Hill. A report of this climb and some other stuff they did was published here. So they've definitely got a track record with achieving amazing things!

Anyway, best of luck to the team in their efforts this summer!

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