FIRST CROATIAN CLIMBING EXPEDITION: GREENLAND 1971
The 1st Croatian Climbing Expedition, organised by the Croatian Mountaineering Club, left for eastern Greenland, after 8 months’ intensive preparations, on July 7th, 1971. Their goal was a so far unclimbed peak, Ingolf Fjeld, some 200 km north of Tasiilaq. The expedition formed part of the Centenary Celebration of organised mountaineering in Croatia.
Members of the team were: Dolfi Rotovnik of Copenhagen, Nenad Čulić of Split, Vladimir Mesarić, Marijan Čepelak, Ing. Hrvoje Lukatela, Branko Šeparović and Ing. Jerko Kirigin (leader), all of Zagreb.
The main group was preceded by a single member of the team who, with all the equipment, embarked on a ship for Tasiilaq on June 1st. He also had to organise the boat transport onwards from Tasiilaq. The rest arrived from Copenhagen by air. We disembarked in Kangertittivatsiaq Fiord, in the vicinity of Ingolf Fjeld on July 14th and immediately started an enforced ascent, fearing a possible worsening of weather.
It was decided to make the ascent along the eastern ridge. Two members were left in Camp I (additional supplies, radio-link, etc.), while the other five started towards the ridge setting up Camp II on the glacier below it. Four climbers immediately climbed through an ice-covered couloir onto the ridge itself, where they organised Camp III and bivouacked. This part of the climb, 450 m high, is grade III/IV, with great danger of rock avalanches. To make the further climb quicker we decided to proceed with only a minimum of food and clothing. The climb from Camp III (1450 m) to the 1000 m higher Camp IV (about 2400 m) lasted 17 hours. It was very difficult (grade IV—V). Two climbers were left here and the last team of two started towards the summit about 200 m higher. This was done for reasons of safety and speed, because a lot of climbing gear had already been spent. After a very difficult last leg (grade V—VI) Čulić and Čepelak reached the summit at 11 AM on July 18th. Ingolf Fjeld is 2560 m high. After one hour’s stay on the summit they started back by the same route. The descent was quite difficult, including a number of problems, so that once a 80 m length of rope had to be cut off. The rest of the day and the whole of the following night were spent to reach Camp III and after a short rest there they went on to Camp II where the other members were waiting. From here they descended to Camp I in a group.
On July 21st six members climbed another previously unclimbed peak, christening it »Žohar«, after a Croatian climber Drago Belačić. The whole climb, except the last 100 odd metres was in ice. After the end of their activities in the Ingolsfjaeld area the whole expedition went back to base, where from two of them undertook a fortnight’s tour along the Thank God Glacier. At its end they climbed a 1150 m high ice barrier (grade III—IV) to reach another previously unclimbed peak, giving it the name »Mausi-fjeld«, after Rotovnik’s wife. In the meantime the others climbed a dominant peak at the entrance to the fiord and gave it the name »Ana Klasinc«, in memory of a Zagreb climber of the same name. At the end of stay they climbed yet another virgin peak and called it Mosor, after a Croatian mountain. Also, using an inflatable dinghy, the whole fiord was explored, including some deserted Eskimo settlements.
We left Kangertittivatsiaq Fiord on August 8th by the same route and technique, viz. by boats to Tasiilaq and from there by air and ship. By the end of August all the members were back in Zagreb. Apart from detailed preparations and a fortunate choice of members, the expedition also had luck in that the weather was comparatively good and there was not much floating ice which normally endangers travel.
The expedition can claim a great success, which has to no small extent contributed to the reputation of Croatian climbing in the international scene.
Ing. Jerko Kirigin
N.B., The above text is an English language summary published in the Expedition Report in Zagreb, in 1972. In addition to a few minor corrections, all geographical names have been revised, in order to conform to the current official Greenland toponymy.