New route on Polar Sun Spire

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 08/06/2012
Superbalance (and portaledge camps) on Polar Sun Spire. Marek Raganowicz

Experienced Polish big wall climbers Marek Raganowicz and Marcin Tomaszewski have added a third route to the North Face of one of the world's most notable rock towers, Polar Sun Spire.

Situated in the Sam Ford Fjord, Polar Sun Spire is one of the most impressive formations on the east coast of Baffin Island, which lies in the Canadian Arctic.

From the 25th May - 1st July 1996 Americans Jeff Chapman, Warren Hollinger and Mark Synnott completed the first ascent of the ca 1,350m North Face, via a 39-day line up the central section of the wall they dubbed The Great and Secret Show.

The three took 36 days to climb the route, spending 25 days on the wall during their final push. At a grade of VII 5.11 A4 WI3 it was, at the time, undoubtedly one of the World's hardest big walls in a mountain environment.

A second route was added in 2000. From the 8th -26th May Norwegians Bjarte Bo, Halvor Hagen, Torkel Roisli and Odd-Roar Wiik climbed a 700m pillar on the far left side of the face to reach the East Ridge, followed this for 300m over snow to the headwall and climbed the prow - a pillar on the left edge of the North Face - to the summit.

The hardest difficulties on the 1,400m Norwegian Route (30 pitches, 5.10 and A4) are encountered on the lower pillar, where the crux was a very loose A4 pitch that required many skyhook moves.

The two Poles forced a line between these two established routes.

From the settlement at Clyde River, climbers access the walls of the Sam Ford by skidoo over frozen sea ice, having to complete their climb before the ice breaks up. 

Raganowicz and Tomaszewski chose to reach the area earlier than previous  expeditions, which gave them more stable weather but considerably lower temperatures. They arrived at the foot of the wall on the 13th April and next day started to climb.

Thanks to the frozen conditions they were able to negotiate loose areas of the wall with a little more safety, but the logical line on the lower wall, a series of red cracks and corners dubbed the Boomerang, featured sections of dangerously loose rock.

The pair continued directly to the snow shoulder at the junction of the East Ridge and headwall, then climbed first left of the Norwegian route before crossing it at an off-width crack. On this section they kept climbing through miserable snowy windy weather.

The rock on the headwall was considerably better, and after working through a large corner system in the middle of the upper pillar, christened The Arena, they reached the summit, 24 days after starting out.

On the crux, the first headwall pitch (pitch 23), they used two rivets, skyhooks, a copperhead and many birdbeaks.

With temperatures generally hovering around -20°C, many pitches required aid, but there was also much free climbing using tools, the mixed crux on their sixth pitch graded M7+.

The 37 -pitch route, named Superbalance, has 30 hand-drilled belay bolts and 15 rivets, and the pair descended via the headwall and East Ridge.



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1) Anonymous User
15/06/2012
Wonder if they took the self-drilled bolts home with them again?

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