Via Sedna – An all female Sailing/climbing expedition to Greenland 04/10/2022
A team of eight women sails from France to Greenland and back to complete a bigwall first ascent.
For two and a half months, the eight women lived together on the 15m sailing vessel “Northabout” and sailed it all the way to Greenland and across the Arctic Circle. “It was a big adventure with many challenges, which we only mastered thanks to our incredible team,” says alpinist Caro North.
The team of sailors, climbers and a photographer sailed north from La Rochelle on June 20, heading for Greenland. They were caught up in bad weather after only a few days, and from then on, rough conditions prevailed over the North Atlantic: one low-pressure system followed the next. The team was forced to wait in Ireland, the Feroe Islands and Iceland to let strong storms pass through. Wait- ing in bad weather in different harbors again and again demanded a lot of patience. In addition, there were always new challenges with reparations and problems on the boat, which the women solved thanks to their experience and creativity.
“I knew that sailing to Greenland was going to be complicated, but this year the weather seemed to be working against us. We quickly realized that the weather patterns did not correspond to the season. The sailing conditions were systematically difficult but what was more impressive was to see the team keept smiling at each night shift despite everything! I am damn proud of this crew!” Captain Marta Guemes says.
Even though it was summer, cold and rough conditions prevailed in the North Atlantic and the wom- en sailed through freezing cold, rain, fog, waves hitting the deck and rough seas until they finally reached the east coast of Greenland after six weeks. But the pack ice still blocked the way into Scores- by Sund, the biggest fjord of the world and they had to wait again. Then finally the ice opened up and a technical navigation through icebergs and thousands of ice floes lead them deeper and deeper into the largest fjord in the world.
A few days later the climbers and photographer were dropped off on land and a race against time and weather, which still showed its bad side, began. First of all, a way had to be found to the foot of the wall and the climbing target. The challenge was to cross a labyrinth of crevasse on a big glacier and to carry all the material through it in several days. Then the three experienced climbers faced the previ- ously unclimbed east face of the Northern Sun Spire. Steep and demanding climbing in orange granite had to be mastered. In three days and with one night on the wall, the team managed to climb to the end of the massive rock face and exit onto the ridge just in time befor the next snowstorm passed through. They called their first ascent Via Sedna, 750m consisting of 16 pitches with difficulties up to about 7b+. They were able to climb clean, leaving only material to rappel back down.
Meanwhile, the sailors explored the Scoresbysund and had to save the engine from failing in order
to remain navigable and make their way back in safety. Together, the team sailed from Greenland to Iceland and then ten days non-stop to France and all the way back to La Rochelle, where they returned to their starting point after 12 weeks and 4000 nautical miles.
While the worlds of sailing and expedition climbing are still male dominated, the energetic women were able to show that it is possible to reach Greenland in an ecologically way and that an all-female team can undertake such an adventure. They want to encourage everybody to follow their dreams and hope to inspire other women to go unknown ways, because everything is possible!
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