Greenland 2001

See Expedition Summary Report

Jim Fairey
Colin Read


A COCKERMOUTH explorer has spoken of his brush with death during an expedition to one of the most remote parts of the world. Father of four Jim Fairey was descending a previously un-climbed peak in Greenland when he was hit by an avalanche and fell through a hole on to a small ledge - the only thing between him and a seemingly bottomless crevasse. His fellow climbers from Keswick Mountaineering Club then carried out a daring rescue, lowering one man through the hole to reach Mr Fairey 50 feet below.

The accident happened on the Greater Cumbrae Glacier in an area where the men would have had to wait about a day to be airlifted out. Mr Fairey, 45, said he had not been scared. "We had a little avalanche coming down from the J F Spur," he added. Colin Read, of Keswick, who had climbed in the region twice before this expedition, said: "We had to rescue him from what was a potentially serious incident, he is talking it down. The avalanche flushed him round a corner and down a hole. He landed on a ledge and the crevasse below - well you couldn’t see the bottom!" While Mr Read, 54, anchored the rope, his friend was pulled back through the hole unscathed.

"It was the fresh snow from a couple of days before, which was wet and heavy. We were just coming down after a 36 hour non-stop route, it slid us down the gully. I got the full force of it and it dumped me in the crevasse," said Mr Fairey. He and his climbing partner Colwyn Jones, of Inverness, had become the first to climb the 8,250 foot peak and were descending the last few hundred feet when the avalanche struck. Luckily, the rest of the six-strong climbing party were coming to meet them with fresh supplies and were close by.

The climbers returned from the month-long expedition triumphant after climbing four new peaks in the area. One has been named Keswicktinde and is 7,500ft high, three times the height of Coniston Old Man. With his climbing partner, Mr Read scaled Sussex, a difficult peak, which has been climbed only once before, in 1963. There was 24 hours of sunshine during the climbers’ stay in Greenland and the weather was unusually mild. The names for the peaks will become official after they have been passed by the Danish Polar Centre. A lecture about the expedition is planned and details with pictures of the climbs will be available on the Keswick Mountaineering Club’s website at

Courtesy of Times and Star