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Antarctica, Rondespiret, First Ascent

Rondespiret, First Ascent. The Sÿr-Rondane 1996-97 expedition returned from Antarctica on January 20 after a successful first ascent of Rondespiret (The Ronde Spire), with an altitude of almost 8,000 feet. Ivar Tollefsen organized and led the expedition, as he did the Queen Maud Land expedition in 1994. Robert Caspersen, Hkon Staver and Aslak Aastorp made up the rest of the climbing team. Tina Jorgensen joined as backup climber and Miss Fix-it, Nils Lund as film photographer and producer, Per Brustad as technician, and Vebjorn Sand as expedition painter.

Discovered by Viggo Widere February 6, 1937, Rondane is an independent mountain massif in Queen Maud Land. Rondespiret is not the highest mountain in the area, but is without doubt the most impressive peak. With its needle shape, extreme location and wall heights of 2,500 to 3,500 feet, most mountains pale in comparison. I have climbed Cerro Torre, stood at the foot of Trango Tower, and flown past Ulvetanna, but when we approached Rondespiret, I felt queasy and had to look down. The mountain was awesome—steeper than anything I had ever seen .With co-ordinates at roughly 72 degrees south and 26 degrees east, Rondespiret is located approximately 350 miles east of Ulvetanna and 125 miles inland. The area is extremely exposed to wind and everything appears to have been sandblasted. Virtually no snow, polished surfaces, zero vegetation, and only the odd bird alighting briefly before flying on. In 1994, the transportation in to the Ulvetanna base camp had involved Russian ice-breakers, rusty helicopters and obsolete snowmobiles. This time around everything was much simpler. Three flights put us at the foot of the mountain. But it was expensive. Adventure Network doesn’t offer excursion fares.

Aslak Aastorp, Norway