Ulvetanna climb update: Trying to unlock the secrets

Posted: Jan 08, 2013 08:24 pm EST

(Newsdesk) The climbing team in Queen Maud Land is almost halfway through their time on the ice and on "the Wolf's Tooth". The climb of this new route on the North-east ridge seems more complicated than they thought as "so many questions remain as to how we are to make the ascent", reports the team from Ulvetanna.

First pitches

After gear was hauled to Advanced Base Camp, on January 4th the team completed the majority of the pillar leading up to the main ridge. Then they started with the first pitches. "All free climbing as far as I know. Leo started off with this amazing series of crack systems, Stanley climbed the second pitch which was an absolutely horrible off-width crack system."

Reeves added, "It was only earlier today that I heard that the guys had a bit of a spanking and needed a rest day today. Stanley apparently lost some skin during that off-width from hell. Today Leo has been frantically looking for a photo of the mountain with a less threatening perspective to motivate himself for the upcoming scariness that he realizes they are about to face. Generally all pretty knackered."

Loose and hollow flakes on crumbly rock in ice

The team reports that they have been suffering from symptoms similar to altitude sickness; constant sensation of wanting to vomit, feeling light headed and low energy.

December 6th Stanley and Chris once more headed up to the high point to try to reach the col on the other side of the massive Gendarme (pinnacle), reported Alastair Lee. "This was a point where we had sighted our next camp, we were hoping for a good ledge system and for the ridge to be easy enough to ferry loads back and forth to stock the first wall camp."

"Stanley and Chris left at 7am and were out of radio contact all day until they finally appeared back over the ridge at the top of the crack system some 12 hours later and made the long abseil back to the relative comforts of advanced base camp."

The news wasn’t good, Alastair Lee added, "another epic day of stretching the ropes out, climbing loose and hollow flakes on crumbly rock in ice filled cracks only to find the col was barely big enough to stand on never mind set up a camp. Stanley described the col as ‘one of the most amazing spots I’ve ever been to, but not somewhere you’d want to hang out’."

"It’s also a lot more exposed to the icy wind on the ridge and loses the sun earlier than the north face… Plus the ridge was waayyy longer than anticipated and not so technically straight forward as it appears from the ground."

Now the conversation in the evening around dehydrated food, hot chocolate and protein mix is about the climbing tactics, but proved inconclusive. Leo Holding told cameraman Lee, "I still haven’t figured out how to solve this problem."

Location December 13th 2013:
Mavericks, Ulvetanna Base Camp, S 71 49.146′, E 008 21.867′
Temperature: 8°C, clear, sunny, no clouds, 0 knots.

Ulvetanna, or "The Wolf's Tooth", is located at 71° 51’ 0” South, 008° 20’ 0” East in the Fenriskjeften Mountain, Drygalski Mountain range.

Leo Holding and his team will attempt a new route on the north east ridge. This ridge extends for 2,000m, presenting 1,300m of vertical ascent. The expedition is expected to last 50 days; start December 16th and return February 2nd, 2013. They fly to Antarctica from Cape Town, South Africa.

Holding is reportedly also planning to BASE jump from the summit.

Berghaus Team: Leo Houlding (Expedition leader/lead climber), Alastair Lee (Film director/photographer/cameraman); Sean ‘Stanley’ Leary (Lead climber); Jason Pickles (Climber); David Reeves (Cameraman/grip) and Chris Rabone (Base camp manager/support climber).

The team flew from Novo Base to their Base Camp (dubbed Mavericks) at the foot of Ulvetanna on December 22nd, 2012.

From Base Camp they carried food and gear to Advanced Base Camp; 5 days in a row, "double loading 45kg backpacks straight up a 45deg inclines several hundred feet up, dealing with knee deep snow and then traversing along a pretty exposed rock cliff, being confronted by the world’s most amazing rock scramble which on a normal day is FUN but when carrying such heavy loads it all becomes a pretty spicy and exhausting experience," David Reeves reported.

Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa:
To ALCI base camp at Novolazarevskaya / Novo
(70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E).


Find all ongoing expeditions in ExWeb's list of expeditions and their dispatches in the feeds on this main page.

Related/Previous:

Winter South Pole crossing: Ranulph Fiennes and ship set sail from South Africa to Antarctica

2013 kickstart: Pakistan and Alaska winter climbs on their marks, Antarctica highlights

Berghaus / Leo Holding Ulvetanna blog



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Leo Holding: "I still haven’t figured out how to solve this problem."
Image by Alastair Lee courtesy (c)Berghaus/Alastair Lee, SOURCE

Image by Alastair Lee courtesy (c)Berghaus/Alastair Lee, SOURCE

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