The North Face Athletes Hansjörg Auer, Eneko and Iker Pou wrote a new page in the history of climbing by opening “The Door”, currently the hardest route on Baffin Island, graded 8b.
The Expedition Team opened also three new routes and walls of incomparable beauty in ‘Perfection Valley’, one of the most inhospitable places on Earth.
“Free climbing on Baffin Island’s East Coast is not popular yet. There are three fundamental issues.
Firstly, the rock quality is not always as good as in other places and many walls are lacking of crack systems or features to free climb. Then there’s the Base Camp: You will just find the open sea during arctic summer time. But it´s necessary to be there during June and July to get the perfect combination of medium temperatures and as many days as possible without precipitation. And finally, the water: Many peaks and towers are capped by ice. The runlets are just finding its way down on the most direct line”, says The North Face Athlete Hansjörg Auer, anticipating the difficulties of this adventure.
‘The door‘, the most difficult route opened in this place.
Bad weather made them wait for 22 days before they could use their climbing shoes. The expedition team named the first formation they climbed ‘Belly Tower’.
“It was our first chance, it looked like a good route, with long quality pitches in good state”, tells Eneko Pou.
The whole team completed “The Door” in sixteen pitches, with Hansjörg Auer and Iker Pou freeing the hardest pitch graded as 8b currently the most difficult in the Arctic.
The Expedition Team opened other three new routes: “Hotel Gina”, “Hotel Monica” and “Levi is coming”.
Five days later, the expedition decided to open new routes in the ‘White Hall’, the mountain hidden behind Base Camp. After six and a half hours, Hansjörg, Belgian climber Ben Lepesant and camera man Matteo Moccelin reached the summit of what they called ‘Hotel Gina’ 6b+/320 m. The Pous and Ricky Felderer, the second camera man, opened ‘Hotel Monica’ 6b+/320 m at the same, and all of them got to the summit of that mountain.
We’re almost sure we were the first human beings there. 50 days after leaving home, Hansjörg and the Pou Brothers decided to open yet another route at Mount Cook, the second closest to Base Camp. After a slope of 1,100 meters and after crossing a glacier, they got to the base of the wall. In 3 hours and 50 minutes, they got to the summit of what they described as “one of the most beautiful routes we’ve ever opened. All the pitches were very good and we had good visibility when we had to choose the line to follow. We called it “Levi is coming” 6b+/420m, in honour of our guide Levi, who had to come to get us out of there”, tells Eneko laughing.
Three days later, the Inuits returned to take them back to civilisation. We endured many days with bad weather in this expedition and everybody really needed to rest. The Expedition Team has survived in one of the wildest places on Earth.
“It was an incredible experience”, said the Pou brothers.
The Perfection Valley. expedition was supported by The North Face® and Red Bull.
Photographer: The North Face®/Riky Felderer and The North Face®/Matteo Mocellin
Athletes: The North Face® Athlete Hansjörg Auer, Eneko Pou, Iker Pou
Location: Perfection Valley, Baffin Island, Canada