Eil­ert­sen had barely started up when the pick on his axe broke at the be­gin­ning of a 20-me­tre long slab tra­verse. He didn’t give up and fought his way with one ice axe and a great deal of tech­ni­cal prow­ess.

Gripped - - FEATURE - Ines Papert is a world cham­pion ice climber from Ger­many, she is one climb­ing’s cut­ting edge ath­letes.

mil­lime­tre-thin ice, my last piece of pro­tec­tion was far be­low me, the Pecker. I made del­i­cate place­ments with the ra­zor-shar p pick of my axe, so as not to dis­turb the thin glaze. A few me­tres higher the ice looked solid, but the ap­pear­ance was de­ceiv­ing.With ev­ery place­ment, I could hear that omi­nous, hol­low sound. Shit, I be­came anx­ious. Af­ter a few more me­tres of care­ful climb­ing, the first solid ice screw bit into the com­pact ice. I sent out a cry of joy into the land­scape. Made it!

Then, dis­as­ter struck. Eil­ert­sen had barely started up when the pick on his axe broke at the be­gin­ning of a 20- me­tre long slab tra­verse. He didn’t give up and fought his way with one ice axe and a great deal of tech­ni­cal prow­ess. He re­peated a pen­du­lum across the tra­verse, piece by piece; that means un­clip­ping, swing­ing over and ju­mar­ing up to the next piece and then start­ing it all over again. I was a lit­tle wor­ried that the pro wouldn’t hold and he would end up tak­ing a gi­ant whip­per. Ev­ery­thing went well, though it took three hours. It wasn’t un­til Eil­ert­sen arr ived at the be­lay, ex­hausted but un­harmed, that I re­al­ized we mas­tered the crux sec­tion. We still, how­ever, were a long way from top­ping-out. Thomas was with his cam­era, hang­ing above us in po­si­tion and was able to give Eil­ert­sen his ice axe and we con­tin­ued up the last 200 me­tres of ver­ti­cal ice. It was a day we will both re­mem­ber for a long time to come. We ac­com­plished the first as­cent of ‘Fin­n­man­nen’ and for me, a free as­cent. We topped-out un­der an amaz­ing starry sky, ac­com­pa­nied by br il­liant green north­ern lights. We were a to­tal of 19- hours un­der­way that day. Just enough time to get to the air­port in Tromsø and catch our flight home.

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