American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Antarctica, Queen Maud Land, Orvin Fjella Mountains, Holsttind (2,577m), North Face, Pilier de Choudens-Renard; Ulvetanna (2,931 m), Southwest Ridge, Attempt; Clara Peak; Klevetind; Little Klevetind; Unnamed Pillar

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2009

Orvin Fjella Mountains, Holsttind (2,577m), north face, Pilier de Choudens-Renard; Ulvetanna (2,931m), southwest ridge, attempt; Clara Peak; Klevetind; Little Klevetind; Unnamed Pillar. Flying via Cape Town and the Russian base of Novolazarevskaya, Lionel Albrieux, Didier Jourdain, Dimitry Munoz, Sébastien Ratel, François Savary, and I, all members of the French High Mountain Military Team (GMHM) in Chamonix, arrived in Queen Maud Land on November 8. We landed in an area named the Wolf's Jaw, first explored by mountaineers in 1994, when a Norwegian expedition, led by Ivar Tollefsen, made a number of outstanding first ascents.

Our first project was to open an aid route, and we started up the north face of Holsttind, where we found bolts on the pedestal from a previous attempt. After fixing the initial section, we set off in capsule style, and on November 27, after four nights spent on the wall in portaledges, all six of us reached the summit. We followed a logical crack system; the rock was poor on the surface, but the cracks were fine. We climbed 19 pitches with maximum difficulties of A2/A3 to complete the 650m route, which we named Pilier de Choudans-Renard, after our two friends and fellow GMHM members killed on Xixabangma in 2003.

We now had two weeks left and split into two teams. Jourdain, Munoz, and Ratel made a fine attempt on the unclimbed south-

west ridge of Ulvetanna. They fixed ropes on the first 300m (the “Bottle”), which was climbed with aid. Bolts from a previous attempt stopped below the top of this formation. After a rest day at base camp, they set off for a continuous push, jumaring the “Bottle” and following the continuation ridge, which was narrow and loose. The next rock pillar they climbed direct, after which they traversed a ledge on the east face and eventually stopped at a notch on the ridge, estimated to be five pitches below the summit. Due to incoming bad weather and fatigue, they retreated and arrived in base camp 36 hours after setting out.

Meanwhile Albrieux, Savary, and I skied 25km west to the Kvitkleven Glacier in the Filch- nerfjella, a part of this range that we think had not previously been explored. We climbed four peaks, all of which we believe were virgin. The first we named Clara Peak; it is the summit just east of Klevekampen, and we climbed it by the southeast ridge—mixed, with snow to the top. Two days later we climbed Klevetind, from a col to the east, and also Little Klevetind, which rose from the opposite side of the col. Finally, we climbed an unnamed pillar on the south side of the Kvitkleven Glacier. It gave seven pitches of perfect rock. We later started toward Rakekniv- en but gave up due to weather. [Editor’s Note: the Kvitkleven is on the eastern side of the Filch- ner Mountains. The western end was visited in 1996-97 by Americans, who made the first ascent of the spectacular 2,365m Rakekniven.]

On December 18 we left the mountains. For the entire expedition we were located next door to the Huber brothers, Stephan Siegrist, and Max Reichel. We had different projects, but it was great to share base camp with them.

Thomas Faucheur, France

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