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Big Polish Alpine Climb Freed at M8 Trad

60 years after the first ascent, this classic 500-metre route gets its first free winter ascent

Photo by: Damian Granowski

In summer 1964, Polish climbers Eugeniusz Chrobak and Andrzej Heinrich made the first ascent of the Heinrich-Chrobak up the 500-metre Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka face in the Tatra Mountains. The route became an instant classic as one of the hardest big walls climbed to date in the area.

Six decades later, Damian Granowski and Tomasz Klimczak have made the first free ascent of the 11-pitch route in winter at M8 trad. The route follows slabs, crack, corners and climbs through steep bulges. They climbed the route over two days in early March with a total of 17.5 hours of climbing. The pitches go at: M7, M7+, M8, M5, M6+, M7-, M8, M6+, M8, M6 and M5. There was also Polish team (Michał Czech, Wadim Jabłoński and Jakub Radziejowski) that attempted it. Czech broke a hold, fell and suffered an injury.

In the summer, the popular route has been the site of many speed records, with the first team taking 32 hours, a follow-up ascent taking eight and Andrzej Marcisz and Władysław Vermessy taking around four hours in 1982.

About the progress of mixed climbing in Europe, Granowski wrote in a blog about their ascent of the Heinrich-Chrobak: “Gradually, routes on Kazalnica were ticked off and the numbers M7, M8, M9 or M10 were raised. The higher the number, the more drytooling skills were needed. Plus, of course, a supply of stamina, strength, and psyche.”

Lead photo: Damian Granowski