Svalbard Atomfjella new routes in Spitzbergen climbing expedition
In April 2007 a mixed Slovenian – Swiss - German team headed to the Atomfjella mountains in Spitzbergen, Norway where they made numerous mixed first ascents.
In April 2007 a mixed European team comprised of Robert Jasper from Germany, Markus Stofer from Switzerland and the Slovenians Gregor Kresal, Anderj Erceg, Boris and Klemen Zupanc headed to Spitzbergen in Norway where, climbing in the Atomfjella mountains, they made numerous mixed first ascents on the 900m virgin peaks.
Robert Jasper's expedition report was published in June, Gregor Kresal's took a little longer – in the meantime he was busy climbing Puscantrupa Este in Peru together with fellow countryman Pavle Kozjek. Some things are just worth waiting for...
Atomfjella mountains, Spitsbergen, Norway 2007
By Gregor Kresal
"This was my third Svalbard expedition, and it looks like I had to go twice before everything finally went the way I had originally planned. There were so many things I had to learn about arctic logistical problems and the secrets of these cold mountains. The experience you gain in Svalbard is quite unique and all my knowledge from other parts of the world in some way just didn't work here in the beginning. Well, as a matter of fact, at the end of the second expedition (2006) we climbed a very good route (The Partner: M6+, 600m, 16h, G. Kresal & K. Zupanc) which was actually one of the most important “sequences” that hit my head. With that route I realized that the Atomfjella mountains really are a big challenge and that it's worth coming back here once again to try the hardest needles.
It's true that the rock is usually quite bad around Spitsbergen, which is the main island of the Svalbard archipelago, but there is one place, where it's hard to the bone. This is called Atomfjella. A little copy of the Alps. The place in one word is… amazing! Mixed climbing, which is usually a combination of snow and extremely hard rock with good drytooling cracks, can be awesome! A lot of peaks are still waiting for their first ascent, and even though people mostly think that Svalbard is a flat land, some of it is extremely steep. There are literally hundreds of walls facing all directions! The painful thing about climbing in Atomfjella is related the temperatures. I had never experienced such constant cold in over 23 years of climbing all around the world. If you're moving, climbing or skiing it's still OK, but staying in your tent is sometimes nothing else but a torture. Bring only the best and warmest equipment!
The Slovenian part of the team (Gregor Kresal - leader, Andrej Erceg, Boris & Klemen Zupanc) climbed ten new routes. And when we were not climbing we were skiing excellent lines down numerous couloirs. Roughly fifteen first descents were made on skis. For our hardest climb we had to attack the so-called Arctic Needle three times. On the second try, after 12 hours of climbing, we had to stop just five meters from the top! The snow blizzard was simply too strong. We left some knifeblades and cooperheads on the last pitch and were finally able to free the entire route a few days later. The top was so sharp, we couldn't even step on it. And the last two meters of rock were totally unstable, so we just put our hands on the top and that was it. Crazy climbing, extraordinary landscape!
As Robert Jasper mentioned in his report, we all climbed in alpine style, without leashes and without placing bolts.
Grega Kresal, Anderj Erceg, Boris and Klemen Zupanc from Slovenia, Markus Stofer from Switzerland and Robert Jasper from Germany.
Arctic Needle ca. 1450m
THE LITTLE BEARS ARE DANCING, M7+, 90°, 500m; A. Erceg, G. Kresal, 03.05.07
The Ridge Pallas – Ceres ca. 1550m
BESNICA, M6, 600m; B. & K. Zupanc, 27.04.07
MIRKOS ROUTE, M5, 600m; B. & K. Zupanc, 20.04.07
Chadwick Ryggen North, ca.1580m
MIS USATE, M5, 600m; G. Kresal, K. Zupanc, 24. 04.07
Ceres Fjellet, 1677m
ROCKET MEN, M4, 750m; A. Erceg, G. Kresal, 19.04.07
Chadwick Ryggen Central, 1641m
BULLS EGGS, M4, 800m; A. Erceg, 02.05.07
Broad peak ca. 1600m
KAPUCINSKY, M4+, 700m; A. Erceg: 01.05.07
BULDOZER, M4, 850m; G. Kresal, B. Zupanc, 02.05.07
SUNNY COULOIR III+/M, 600m; G. Kresal, B. & K. Zupanc, 18.04.07
COULOIR IDEAL M3, 700m; G. Kresal, 23.04.07