Home > News

Climber Solos Steep Frozen Wall in Norway

Juho Knuuttila just completed a new M6 WI6 called Polar Vortex on Rånkeipen, north of the Arctic Circle. "I had just lived some of the most intense hours of my life."

Juho Knuuttila is spending his winter in the northern part of Norway, which sits north of the Arctic Circle. Over the past few weeks, he’s established two big mixed climbs that follow steep rock and brittle ice – one of them he climbed alone.

In December, he and Alexander Nordvall made the first ascent of the six-pitch Arctic Circus M6 WI6 on Rånkeipen, a peak near Narvik with tall rock walls. About the climb, Knuuttila said, “we were challenged by brittle ice, compact rock and of course lack of daylight. Some of the pitches were rope stretching due to lack of good belays, some took us inside the mountain and others included hanging daggers above the void.”

Knuuttila then spotted another new route that he planned to solo sans rope, but brought a rope and gear just in case. After skiing up the normal route on Rånkeipen, he rappelled into his planned line which was extremely commiting as he would have to either climb back out or continue down avalanche-prone ledges and gullies.

He said, “I expected to free-solo most of the line but when ‘easy’ looking ramps turned out to be smooth slabs covered on powder I had no other option than climb down and change my mindset to rope soloing mode.” Knuuttila said about his new route that he called Polar Vortex.

“Overhanging corner leading to icicles…not really WI5 I was hoping to. I used another two hours to battle up wild terrain. Dry tooling, thin ice traverse, passing small overhangs and daggers… I cleaned the pitch, topped out climbing easier ice and skied down to get to work at 13:30, exhausted but happy. I had just lived some of the most intense hours of my life.”