Milne Land is an island at 71° N in Scoresby Sund, the largest fjord system in the World. It is an island with much potential, particularly for long rock climbs on large sweeps of granite, but with the fjord covered with ice for much of the year, making access difficult and expensive, little has been done.

In the last two-three years several British expeditions have examined the coastal region and explored parts of the interior, coming away with a many first ascents.

One of the most enterprising took place in August 2006 when Dan Jones, Ben Lawes and Olly Sanders, all highly experienced sea paddlers, made a clockwise circumnavigation of the island. The three flew to Constable Point and collected their kayaks previously shipped on the supply boat to Ittoqqortoormiit, close to the settlement of Scoresby Sund (this boat services the region once a year, and then only if it can get through the pack ice). A chartered boat took them to the south east tip of Milne Land (£850 for a fivehour journey), from where they set off west with 24 days food, fuel, camping and climbing equipment to make an unsupported 300km journey around the island, afterwards continuing a further 200km back to Ittoqqortoormiit.

Paddling around the west coast they spotted a peak named Hergenlitop, which had a steep rock wall on its South Face and easy access from the sea. Choosing a line up the centre of the face, the three climbed 11 pitches to the top, the first seven, each of 55m, being quite difficult. The rock was good for much of the ascent and the main problem came from unfriendly peregrines. The 300m route was named Sleeping Giant and awarded a grade of British XS. There were many excellent pitches of 5a/5b.

Continuing along the north coast they saw many fantastic peaks with huge sweeps of granite rising from close to the shore. Unfortunately, their committing journey meant that they had neither enough food nor time to explore. The sea crossing from Milne Land to Ittoqqortoormiit took six days and the three arrived with just one day’s food remaining, having run out of fuel one week previously.

Part of an article from Climb Magazine January 2008.