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Papert, Pfaff and Schelb Climb Big New Ice Routes in Norway

Their two new routes tackle technical lines up two of Senja Island's peaks.

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Anna Pfaff and Ines Papert recently wrapped up a productive—albeit frostbite-beset—trip of first ascents to Norway. Fresh off an expedition to Antarctica at the beginning of 2018, Pfaff was ready for some vertical adventures in the cold.

Pfaff walking towards her and Papert’s new AI 5 M7 on Roalden Peak, Senja Island, Norway. Photo: Ines Papert.

Early morning on February 19, Pfaff and Papert set out to climb a new alpine route on the north face of Roalden Peak on Senja Island. “We decided to follow a vague chimney system to the upper ice-covered slabs that connect the North Face with the summit ridge,” Pfaff wrote to Rock and Ice. Papert “set out on the first pitch of mixed climbing through a loose and secure chimney,” and after a number of rope lengths and ample simul-climbing, the pair reached the summit ridge after 400 meters.

The northerly latitude of Norway means daylight is short this time of year, and before long the climbers found themselves benighted on the mountain. “We rappelled a pitch in the dark and then decided to call our friend Thomas Senf to drop in some headlamps,” Pfaff wrote. “He came to our rescue with the shining lights at the summit and we made it down without difficulty except for a few frostbitten fingers [for me].” Papert and Pfaff called there new route Stumbling Stone, and assigned it a grade of AI 5 M7.

Unfortunately for Pfaff, the frostbite meant her trip was done almost as soon as it started. She jetted home to work on getting her fingers healed up, so Papert recruited an old friend, Rahel Schelb, to join her. After warming up on Finnkona, a classic WI 6, the duo saw an attractive ice line on a mountain named Fjølhaugen, just behind their hotel, Senja Lodge. It quickly became the next objective. It was an “obvious, thin smear of ice,” Papert wrote to Rock and Ice.

Papert on Finnkona (WI 6). Photo: Thomas Senf.
Papert on one of the thin ice pitches of Rosalinde, the new WI 7 M6 line that she and Rahel Schelb opened on the northeast face of Fjølhaugen, on Senja Island, Norway. Photo: Rahel Schelb.

“The first real pitch seemed tricky to protect, but once I [was able to] place a short ice screw and a micro nut, I went for it,” Papert wrote, noting that it was not the kind of climb on which you’d “want to risk a fall.” The higher up she and Schelb got, the more solid the ice became, and after seven pitches they topped out on the ridge. They named the 350-meter route Rosalinde in memory of Schelb’s grandmother, who had passed away the day before. They graded it WI 7 M6.

Pfaff has spent plenty of time hacking her way up steep ice and mountains around the globe. Among other impressive ascents, in 2015, she made the first ascent of Unattached (5.6 AI 3 WI 3 M4) on Tarre Parbat in the Zanskar Range, India, and in 2013 she made the first ascent of Lungartse Peak (6,070 meters) in Nepal.

Papert is one of the strongest and most well-rounded climbers around, with the ability to climb hard ice and rock, be it on alpine faces, big mountains or short, bouldery crags. Perhaps her most impressive first ascent to date is Quantum of Solace, a 14-pitch WI7+ M7 that ascends a formidable rock wall on a formation known as the Great Walls of China, near Kyzyl-Asker, Kyrgyzstan.

Though Pfaff and Papert had plans for much more on their Norway trip, two new technical lines in the 400-meter ballpark aren’t half bad. “Next time I hope for many more routes,” Papert wrote. And judging by the potential the area holds, we expect both Papert and Pfaff to be back and manage just that.

Also read Ines Papert Makes Rare Ascent of Alpine Testpiece Scaramouche (5.13b/c)