The First Big-Wall Winter Climb in Greenland

On Sunday, Poland’s Marcin Tomaszewski and Pavel Haldas head to Uummannaq, Greenland to open a new route on the cliffs near this west coast village. It’s an old-fashioned expedition, with a lot of unknowns and done in good Polish style, in midwinter.

“According to our information, we are the first team to climb in Greenland in winter,” Tomaszewski told ExplorersWeb. “It’s really exciting.”

The banner for Tomaszewski and Haldas’ winter Greenland expedition, with Uummannaq’s characteristic forked peak in the background.


First, the climbers will do a reconnaissance ski around the islands of Agpad and Stor Oen (Big Island), looking for the right place to climb. Tomaszewski already set a new route on Agpad Island in 2017, as part of a larger team.

“There are seven walls on the island and none of them showed any human footprints,” he recalls. “The rock in the area was quite fragile, but I expect conditions will be better in winter, with the routes iced-up. Stor Oen’s cliffs, as far as I know, have not been climbed yet, and we have some ideas about potential routes of high technical difficulty.”

Once they pick their goal, the pair will climb capsule-style, with a portaledge.

Classic big wall winter climbing. Photo: Marcin Tomaszewski


Winter is the future

Over the years, Tomaszewski has specialized in off-season big-wall climbing, which he sees as the future of technical climbing.

He has opened winter routes on Baffin Island’s Polar Sun Spire and Norway’s Troll Wall. Last year, he changed the game with Fabian Bielecki, by opening a route on Uli Biaho Tower, in Pakistan’s Karakoram.

“We chose the tower’s North Face, totally without sun, and climbed in December when the days are the shortest,” he said. He pointed out that even in December, south faces are milder, like the European Alps in winter.

It might seem that Tomaszewski is purposely adding to the difficulties. “Ours is an exploration expedition in the full sense of the word,” he admits. “This way of exploring the world has fascinated me since I was a child.”

Tomaszewski on Karakoram’s Uli Biaho Tower last year. Photo: Marcin Tomaszewski

First-time partners

Tomaszewski has not climbed with Pawel Haldas before, but their backstory is interesting.

“Climbing together for the first time will certainly be an expedition within the expedition for both of us,” Tomaszewski said. “However, we both have a positive attitude toward life and people…He is a great ice climber and a mentally strong person.”

Haldas was supposed to be part of the Karakoram winter team last year, but his visa was rejected at the last minute because it lacked some papers related to COVID.

Pawel Haldas. Photo: Marcin Tomaszewski


The climbers met in quite an unusual way. In 1995, Tomaszewski opened a very difficult winter route on Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka, one of the hardest walls in the Tatras. “Despite several attempts over 25 years, no one had been able to repeat it,” he said.

So he threw out a challenge: a case of beer to whoever did. And in 2020, Pawel Haldas, Damian Bielecki, and Marius Fedorowicz succeeded. “They got their beer and we’ve gone on trips together since then.”

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.