British-based climber completes two new routes in Baffin Island

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 23/05/2017
Marek Raganowicz on Secret of Silence, Ship's Prow, Baffin. Marek Raganowicz
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Scottish resident and big wall climber, Marek Raganowicz, has added two demanding aid routes to the overhanging Ship's Prow in Baffin Island.

With regular climbing partner Marcin Tomaszewski, Raganowicz was transported across the frozen ice to Sam Ford Fjord on the 3rd March, hoping to climb a big new route in this area.

The Polish pair had been here before: in May 2012 they spent 24 days on the almost 1,400m-high north face of Polar Sun Spire, putting up Superbalance (VI M7+ A4).

However, this season extreme cold and high winds made any attempt to climb in the fjord impossible, and in the end Tomaszewski decided to return to Poland.

Raganowicz opted to stay, alone, and was transported north to the mouth of the Scott Inlet and a small dot of land know as Scott Island.

At the northern end lies the overhanging granite formation dubbed the Ship's Prow, a 600m wall that rises directly out of the frozen ocean.

It had only been climbed once previously. From late April to early June 1999 the American big wall soloist Mike Libecki climbed the 600m north face via a line he named Hinayana (VI 5.8 A3+)

Hinayana relates to a path of Buddhism: Libecki carried out a lot of meditation during his trip, where the only sound he could hear each day was his pulse. Libecki knew he was "at a place on Earth that is still truly wild".  Little has changed.

Raganowicz found a perfect line to the right of Libecki's route on the north face but it was still too cold to climb. Although the east face was a little shorter and a little less steep, it got the sun for a few hours a day, making the low temperatures more bearable.

Deciding not to waste anymore time, he set off up the wall on the 23rd March for a continuous ascent. His main goal was to keep the route natural, and not carry out any drilling.

After 17 days he emerged at the top, having created MantraMandala (450m, VI A3+). He had made a continuous capsule style ascent, placed no bolts or rivets, but drilled six holes for bathook placements.

Taking the next week off to recover, Raganowicz fixed the first pitch of his proposed new line on the north face.

He fixed the first four pitches from the ground, before taking off on the 23rd April and reaching the top on the 1st May. This time not a single hole was drilled, though much use was made of the Polish, "Figure of Ones" (similar to beaks). The route was named Secret of Silence (600m, VI A4).

These ascents follow on from two big solos in 2016: the first of any route on the Troll Wall in winter with an ascent of  Suser Gjennom Harryland (Norwegian 6 A3, this was also the route's first solo ascent), and the second solo (10th overall ascent) of the Eric Kohl El Capitan route Plastic Surgery Disaster (A5 5.8).

The Baffin Island trip would not have been possible without the support of Raganowicz's sponsors: Patagonia, Polish Alpine Association, CAN Offshore, MBC Ltd (Grivel UK, Edelweiss UK, Sea To Summit UK), Zamberlan, Atest, Monkey’s Grip, and D4 Big Wall Gear.
 



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