Antarctica, Bouvetoya, Olatoppen (774m), First True Ascent

Publication Year: 2012.

Olavtoppen (774m), first true ascent. The sub-Antarctic island of Bouvetoya is the most isolated piece of land on the planet, 1,740km from Antarctica and 2,600km from South Africa. Surrounded by rough seas and subject to severe weather, the island is 92% glaciated, rising to a high point named Olavtoppen. First sighted in 1739, set foot upon in 1822, and annexed by Norway in 1928, the island was visited numerous times during the 20th Century, though landings were rare. A meteorological station was installed in the 1970s and visited during the 1980s and 1990s by South African and Norwegian scientists, who mapped the island, often using helicopters, sometimes landing on the high point.

In February 2012 an international team approached from the west, using an inflatable to land on a small beach giving access to the plateau, which is otherwise guarded by steep ice cliffs. On February 20th William Allen, Bruno Rodi, and Jason Rodi, led by New Zealand guide Aaron Halstead, negotiated extensively crevassed, but technically straightforward, ground to make the first ascent of Olvatoppen, returning to the main ship after a round trip of nine hours. The next day Halstead led a second team of Sarto Blouin, Chakib Bouayed, Akos Hivekovics, Cindy Sampson, and Seth Sherman to the top. There is no previous record or evidence of Olavtoppen being climbed from the coast.

Damien Gildea, Australia