| On 23 August a German expedition comprised of Stefan Glowacz, Kurt Albert, Holger Hember and the photographer Gerd Heidorn opened a new route on Baffin Island's granite Polar Bear Spire. |
Their 500m long " Odyssey 2000" was the culmination of an epic adventure which the four climbers completed in complete autonomy and 'by fair means'.
On 10 August the expedition left Cape Christian, situated 10 km from Clyde River, and with over 500 kg of equipment & provisions paddled 200km to the end of Edlington Fjord. Bad weather hampered their progress, but after a week they finally entered a stretch between Edlington Fjord and Sam Fjord. Here they identified a steep unclimbed rock face which they subsequently named Polar Bear Spire
The four hauled their provisions inland and established the 15 pitch Odyssey 2000, grading it German -IX (French 7b/7b+). They used natural pro but placed bolts at the belays and on sections deemed unprotectable. Fixed ropes were used to abseil down to Base Camp and to return to the previous highpoint.
The entire expedition was threatened by the disruptive presence of polar bears. During their outbound trip the climbers were forced to keep 2-hour night shifts and, after the polar bears had eaten 1/3 of their rations, the four raised their Base Camp high onto bear-safe portaledges.
The return to civilisation was anything but easy; bad weather, rapids, dangerously strong sea currents and 2m high waves proved to be a tough match. Glowacz and Heidorn were forced to walk the final two-day stretch, while Albert and Hember managed to kajak back to Clyde River. The route name aptly sums up their Canadian adventure!