New Route on Great Trango Tower

The new Polish route on Great Trango Tower.
The new Polish route on Great Trango Tower.

9/10/13 – Polish big-wall aces Marek Raganowicz and Marcin Tomaszewski have completed a new route on the northwest side of Great Trango Tower, one of the largest walls in the world. Bushido (VII– A4 VII+) takes a mostly independent line on the right side of the wall and then joins the Azeem Ridge (southwest ridge, Cordes-Wharton, 2004) for some distance, about three-quarters of the way up the face.

Raganowicz and Tomaszewski climbed their route capsule-style with four portaledge camps. After fixing ropes to Camp 1 atop the eighth pitch, the two men spent 20 days on the wall, climbing a total of 46 pitches. They ended the climb at night in a storm, at the top of the main southwest ridge but still far from the southwest summit of Great Trango (ca. 6,250m, or 20,505′). It took another two days to rappel the route.

“The last day of the climb had over 24 hours in a snowstorm and freezing cold,” Raganowicz said. “The raps down were one of the biggest challenges in our mountain careers. The ropes were totally frozen and stiff; snow and hail covered all gear. We reached the portaledge extremely exhausted with two last ropes left.”

The Poles placed 21 belay bolts and eight protection rivets on the route. Raganowicz said he believes they climbed mostly to the left of the Cordes-Wharton route, though he’s certain they followed it for three pitches.

The Cordes-Wharton climb in 2004 was a bold alpine-style ascent achieved with minimal gear and much free climbing. They fixed no ropes and carried no bolt kit, and they climbed the ca. 7,500-vertical-foot ridge in four and a half days, completing 17 pitches above the highest anchors they found from previous attempts. They went over the southwest summit and completed a treacherous descent, having gone without water for more than 48 hours.

In April and May of 2012, Raganowicz and Tomaszewski climbed a new route on the north face of Polar Sun Spire in Baffin Island, Canada, one of the most impressive big-wall ascents of the year. They spent 24 days on this enormous wall above Sam Ford Fjord.

Date of ascent: August 2013

Sources: Marek Raganowicz, American Alpine Journal