Marathon 44-Hour Push Nets First Winter Linkup of Four Polish Peaks

Climbing
One of the four routes of Expander.

“Today I am barely alive, but I am very happy,” said one of the climbers. 

In early March, Maciek Ciesielski, Piotr Sułowski, and Kacper Tekieli completed a legendary alpine linkup in the Tatra Mountains of their native Poland. Called Expander, the four-route chain-climb took a grueling 43 hours and 50 minutes. No one had ever done the linkup in winter before.

The four peaks of Expander are Mały Młynarz (350m VI-), Kocioł Kazalnicy (200m M7), Mnich (160m VII), and Kościelec (90m VI+). Local climber Maciej Gryczyński climbed all the individual peaks in the 1960s, but not until 1989 did Krzysztof Pankiewicz and Piotr Panufnik link all four walls in 17 hours. Since then, Expander has seen other three repetitions, all in summer, Climbing reports.

The midpoint, middle of the night: Two peaks down, two to go.

The threesome’s marathon effort took place between March 2 and March 4. The climbers were totally self-sufficient and used no previous caches, external support, or mountain huts. They rested for only about three hours in all, including a one-hour nap.

The Tatras are the usual training ground for Polish winter warriors: Directly exposed to arctic fronts, the range is infamous for its harsh winters. These four technical peaks stretch for 30km, not counting the approach and more than 3,000m vertical metres of climbing.

“No one has ever tried to do it in winter,” said Maciek Ciesielski. “We managed to accomplish something that we also thought was a bit impossible. Today I am barely alive, but I am very happy.”

Safely back after almost 44 hours of climbing. Photos by the climbers

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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