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New Route on Baffin Island

The routeline for Superbalance (VII/A4/M7+) a thirty-seven pitch climb on Baffin Island’s Polar Sun Spire, which was climbed by Marek Raganowicz and Marcin Tomaszewski over the course of twenty-four days in April and May of this year. [Photo] Marek Raganowicz

Poles, Marek Raganowicz, more commonly known as “Regan” to his English speaking followers and Marcin “Yeti” Tomaszewski have put up the first ascent of “Superbalance” on the north face of Polar Sun Spire in the Sam Ford fiord of Baffin Island. The climb, a 37 pitch VII/A4/M7+, is directly in the middle of two other popular climbs, the “Norwegian Route” and “The Great and Secret Show.”

The route took the pair twenty-four days to put up, “with no excessive aiding and drilling” Regan told Alpinist. Following an obvious line up the north face, low temperatures actually proved to aid in the ascent, providing more support to loose and flakey sections of rock and ice. “The cold let us get through rotten rock of Boomerang and that was most important, but we established stylistic goals before we decided on the early date of the expedition and climbing in low temperature. We were sure that we wanted to climb in team of two and that we want to pave the most natural line[…]”

The cold weather still proved to be an obstacle for the climb. Baffin island is notorious for its cold and windy weather, but the pair was intent and setting the line. “[…] The Baffin Island walls are relatively unexplored so instead of repeating somebody’s route you have a choice of making your own and even climbing virgin walls like Chinese wall or Tugalike,” Regan explained to Alpinist. “Making a route on such an enormous wall, in that kind of space, is similar to creating. I could say that we felt we were creating something important, something through which we could express ourselves. A couple of weeks after the climb it got to us that we experienced a certain kind of exoneration – like catharsis. I think it’s because of this long time spent climbing. It was climb of lifetime, so no doubt [it was the] right choice.”

Tomaszewski (Yeti) preparing to enter “The Fridge.” [Photo] Marek Raganowicz

After a long trip to Clyde River in Baffin Island, Regan and Yeti took a five-hour skidoo ride to the base of the Sam Ford fiord. Over the next two days, they climbed through seven pitches of mixed climbing to reach their first camp. With temperatures well below zero degrees Fahrenheit, the duo developed strategies to bear the cold. “As Machiavelli wrote, if you can’t defeat an enemy, you have to befriend him,” said Regan. “We were sticking to that rule from the first night in the tent in Clyde River, when we woke up and had to limber up our feet and heat the interior. What was the worse was that we couldn’t escape that cold. You can say that we personalized it and accepted its presence as something casual. The most burdensome was the inability to rest and relax. Throughout the whole expedition we only temporarily managed to reach temperatures that would allow us to take off gloves or hats in the portaledge. Right after turning off the stove it was getting cold and everything that steamed up was turning into ice or frost. It was a vicious cycle, that’s why we couldn’t dry our stuff.”

“No excuses in a team of two and no ego in a team of two.” Raganowicz leading. [Photo] Marek Raganowicz

After leading several pitches, Regan and Yeti would take a day to rest and haul gear up before beginning to climb once again. These days between climbing proved to be essential due to the poor weather and continual trouble with gear. ” When it comes to gear, I have to say that climbing this route was an exceptionally demanding test for everything that we were using,” Regan told Alpinist. “We had to fix, sew and repair a lot of things daily. During the climb we called it a Boomerang Test, because after we came out of that crack, almost everything had to be repaired. […] We cut 5 ropes, one of which cut 4 times in the course of 2 days. All because of falling Stones.”

Yeti enjoying some loose mixed climbing in the Boomerang crack. [Photo] Marek Raganowicz

After being on the wall for just over twenty days, Regan and Yeti reached the summit. Regan recalls that despite difficulties during the climb, it was extremely memorable setting a new route. “On the wall Yeti said that he never felt that kind of peace before. It was very special: even on 27th pitch, with the snow, wind and spindrift, we were kidding around. With every meter I had a feeling that nothing could stop us, although I had respect for the wall: we feared frostbites, falls, falling stones, droping the haul bags or leaking fuel. Between the wall, us and nature there was a certain detectable flow that we felt and followed and which gave us the strength of peace. Hence the name of the route – Superbalance.”

For more information check out the pair’s trip report here.

Source: Marek Raganowicz, Supertopo