35 Days on a Frozen Wall, Alone: Marek Raganowicz Solos New Route on Baffin Island

Marek Raganowicz of Poland has soloed a new route on the North Face of Polar Sun Arm in Sam Ford Fiord on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. He was 35 days alone on the wall. Raganowicz named the route MikroKozmik Variations (A4+, M5).

Solo means alone. Photo: Marek Raganowicz


Raganowicz’s route on Polar Sun Arm. He then continued to the top of Polar Sun Spire, following a line that he and a partner opened in 2012. Photo: Jerry Kobalenko


Biggest cliffs in the world?

Polar Sun Arm is a wall separated from the better-known Polar Sun Spire, on the mountainous east coast of Baffin Island. The cliffs in Sam Ford Fiord rise 1600-1700m directly from the frozen ocean. Depending on your definition of “cliff”, they may be the biggest cliffs in the world. Their only possible competitors are the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat and Gyala Peri.

Raganowicz opened 15 new pitches with a difficulty of A4+. He continued for another 11 pitches on the Superbalance line that he and Marcin Tomaszewski opened on Polar Sun Spire in 2012. In all, he did a 26-pitch variation route, totally alone.

Alone on the frozen wall. Photo: Marek Raganowicz


Photo: Marek Raganowicz


Among his difficult solos, in 2016, Raganowicz made the first repetition of the dangerous Plastic Surgery Disaster (A5) route on El Capitan, again alone. One year later, Raganowicz made the first solitary winter ascent of Troll Wall in Norway, during a climb that took 16 days.

Plastic Surgery Disaster on El Capitan in 2016. Photo: Marek Raganowicz

Raganowicz during his solo climb on the Troll Wall in Norway. Photo: Marek Raganowicz


Reportedly very thin but happy with his success, he recently caught a lift back to the town of Clyde River on a snowmobile driven by an Inuit guide.

Raganowicz on Polar Sun Arm. Photo: Marek Raganowicz


During those lonely weeks on the wall, he says he learned much about the limits of his abilities. Raganowicz would agree with the famous Japanese soloist Buntaro Kato, who wrote in his Manifesto of a Solo Mountaineer: “If mountaineering is about gaining knowledge and therefore comfort from Nature, then surely the greatest knowledge and the greatest degree of comfort is gained from solo mountaineering.”

Sunrise at 2 am, from Polar Sun Arm. Photo: Marek Raganowicz

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.