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Gunnbjørnsfjeld is the highest mountain in the Arctic and is situated in the Watkins mountains of east Greenland.
Gunnbjørnsfjeld was first referred to by the old Norse sailing expeditions as Hvitserk and then first seen in modern times by Gino Watkins on 1st September during the 1930 British Arctic Air Route Expedition. The first ground sighting was made in 1934 by Martin Lindsay's British expedition before receiving it's first ascent on 16th August 1935 by Wager and Courtaulds' Anglo-Danish party.
Until Summer 1988 there had been just two further ascents by Alistair Allen's 1971 Anglo-Danish party and Stan Woolley's 1987 expedition. There then followed a succession of four more ascents during July 1988 as a result of the first ever ski landings of the Twin Otter aircraft in this area. Since then there has been a fairly small but consistent number of between one and three expeditions climbing the mountain each year. At the end of the 2010 season the total number of ascents is believed to be 60. Apart from a handful of these, the majority have all been organised or guided by Tangent Expeditions.
The Watkins Mountains also contain all ten highest mountains in the Arctic which can all be ascended by largely non-technical climbs via their easiest routes. These and other unclimbed peaks in the area also offer a range of difficulties including technical snow and ice routes.
The Watkins Mountains are unsuitable for mixed climbing due to the poor basalt rock.
Since 1998 we have returned every year for our Spring expeditions to the Watkins Mountains and the highest peak in the Arctic, Gunnbjørnsfjeld (3693m), along with its two close neighbours and 2nd and 3rd highest peaks in the Arctic; Dome (3682m, renamed Qaqqaq Kershaw) and Cone (3669m, renamed Qaqqaq Johnson).
Gunnbjørnsfjeld is often referred to as the 'eighth' summit by seven summiteers! As the highest mountain in the Arctic it compliments nicely an ascent of Mount Vinson, the Antarctic's highest mountain. During this year's expedition we shall make attempts on all three highest peaks, plus first ascent opportunities of one or two of the remaining highest unclimbed summits in the Arctic!
In March 2006 we made the first successful winter ascent of Gunnbjørnsfjeld. In March 2010 we made the first winter ascent of Thors Gate 3500m, the subsidiary summit of Cone. In March 2011 we will be returning yet again to attempt the first winter ascents of Cone and Dome; a superb opportunity to make true Arctic mountaineering history!
Watkins Mountains = The ultimate ski mountaineering venue in Greenland!