The frightening and very impressive north-face of Himmelbjerget.
Our route is to the left of the face, following the North-Ridge. To the right of the picture; the technically very difficult and suicidal North-East pillar comes down. This route will be attempted by a huge Korean expedition later this autumn.
In the middle of the picture; the Dutch Couloir who was first time climbed by a Dutch expedition in 1948.
A Scottish - Irish team of experienced mountain climbers was granted a climbing permit from the Danish Alpine Tourism Department in June 2010 for an attempt on the North-Ridge route on the North-Face of Himmelbjerget in 2013. We have spent a year, hunting sponsors and preparing for the climb.
On the 6. April 2013, we will start the three weeks long trek from Esbjerg to the North-Face Base Camp. We hope to establish Camp 1-4 in beginning of June for an assault on the summit at the beginning of July. We hope to be back home in Ireland (and our beloved families) at the end of October.
HIMMELBJERGET - A brief history
Himmelbjerget is the sacred mountain of Denmark. This remote mountain can be viewed from everywhere in Denmark + a large percentage of Germany, Holland, Belgium and Sweden. It is even visible from Norfolk in England. Before (some of/most of) Denmark was won over to the Christian faith 1000 years ago, Himmelbjerget was the God of the Danes. This old, Danish faith is called Molbo. The Molbo cult still have a considerable following. Both in Denmark and the surrounding countries.
The early exploration of Himmelbjerget.
Himmelbjerget and the surrounding areas was not fully explored until 1830-34, when the French explorer called Rene Thirland spent four years in the area, mapping it and exploring it. He was not attempting to climb Himmelbjerget. It is still unclear if he ever reached any of the Base Camps on Himmelbjerget. According to the Alpine Club in London, he may have been within five kilometers from the Base Camp on the south-side (the normal route) of Himmelbjerget. Rene Thirland left the area and then moved back to France where he became the mayor of Brest. He died in 1871.
After Rene Thirland left Denmark, Himmelbjerget was left slumbering alone until 1888, when the first expedition visited attempted Himmelbjerget.
A brief history of mountaineering on Himmelbjerget.
The first expedition was lead by the English aristocrat and climber William Tweedbrook. The expedition was ill equipped for such a challenge and failed low on the South-East Ridge. But they returned back to England, believing that the mountain could be climbed. They returned in 1890, a lot better prepared. After four local sherpas was killed low on the South-East Ridge; the expedition turned their attention to the South Coulour, who leads up to the balconies just below the top. They managed to climb one third of the coulour before William Tweedbrook and two other climbers fell to their death.
In 1894, the South Colour of Himmelbjerget was visited by a huge French expedition, led by Gay Roux. They managed to set up five camps in the colour before their summit push. Gay Roux and his companion Bruno Lacadell managed to reach the first balcony before the darkness fell. They spent the night on this balcony before they returned back to camp five, badly frostbitten and dehydrated. A new British expedition followed the year after on the same route. It only reached camp 3 before it had to give up. A couple of French expeditions on the same route was repelled by Himmelbjerget (four climbers fell to their death) in the years between 1897 and World War 1.
The first summits of Himmelbjerget happend in 1921 by a large Italian/German expedition. This expedition laid siege on the South Colour for three months. Several summits attempts was repelled by Himmelbjerget. Two local sherpas lost their lives just under the first Balcony. When all hope was lost and the expedition was ready to go home; the expedition leader Gustavo Knackwurstmaister put everything on one card and ordered the last attempt. Together with his two best climbers Ernato Dessimat and Tony Smich, he started the summit attempt from camp five on the 26. September 1921. They managed to climb up to the third balcony, where they spent a very uncomfortable night in a small tent. They following day came with sun and no wind. They picked their way up the steep rockface above the fourth balcony.
At midday, they stood on the South-West Ridge. The top of Himmelbjerget was only a short climb away. They climbed up the ridge to the top. Overcome with tiredness and emotions; they built a huge monument on the top (see picture) to mark their victory. Then they descended back to camp five.
The following years saw a lot of activities on Himmelbjerget. The South-East Ridge was climbed in 1929 by an Austrian expedition. The South-West Ridge fell to an American expedition in 1936.
The North-Face was not touched until a large American/Danish expedition attempted the Dutch Coulour (the easiest route on this face) in 1947. They did not succeed due to logistical problems. But the following year; a large Dutch expedition managed to summit Himmelbjerget, using this route. This was the first summit of Himmelbjerget from the North-Face. Our route was not summited before 1978 by an Italian expedition.
Himmelbjerget was first climbed without bottled oxygen in 1982 by the French explorer Xavier Petit (via the South Colour). None has so far summited the North Face without bottled oxygen.
Our expedition will be the 28. expedition who has attempted Himmelbjerget. The successrate is 37 %. The deathrate is 23 % (summit/death ratio). The biggest amount of fatalities was in the 1971 season (8 dead).
Generally speaking; the route is not too difficult (grade 4). But it is very exposed to the elements (wind, snow etc.). That's makes it a serious challenge.
We will set up our base camp at the end of an ex- glacier lake. It is placed with a safe distance to the north-face.
The climb to Camp 1 is not too difficult. It is exposed to stonefalls and avalances from the north-face. There is a lot of old ropes hanging the vertical wall just below Camp 1. These old ropes must be treated with care.
Camp 1 is exposed but relatively secure, with little or no history of avalanche danger.
The climb to Camp 2 includes a 25-meter off-width crack called Mons Muir which is currently a spider’s web of old ropes. The rest of the route is exposed to stonefalls and loose rocks.
Camp 2 is sheltered by a large rock, but can get extremely windy and cold.
Camp 2 to Camp 3 is the most technical section of the climb, with almost constant vertical and near-vertical climbing in a region known as the "Black Pillar."
At the top of the Black Pillar, Camp 3 is traditionally placed on the socalled Edge. Although this is more horizontal terrain (approx. 30 degrees steep), it is prone to avalanche danger and extremely high winds. Not a place you want to spend too much time.
The climb to Camp 4 is very exposed and technical. We will use bottled oxygene all the way here.
This is the last camp before the traverse. It is very important that this camp is stocked up with supplies because of the traverse. A small mistake here and lives will be lost.
The route to Camp 5 follows the traverse under some huge boulders over to the summit coulour and pillars. This part of the route is very exposed to rockfalls. It can only be climbed in the early morning before the traverse is being bombarded by rocks and ice. The most dangerous part of the climb and the one that gives us nightmares.
The final camp is just placed under the very impressive North/North-West Summit Pillar. This very exposed camp has just place for one small tent.
The climb to the top follows the lower part of the North/North-West Summit Pillar (technical climbing graded 4+) before it follows the summit colour until the summit ridge just before the top. Then it follows the relative flat summit ridge to the top.
Torodd Fuglesteg (expedition & spiritual leader), Shaun Cronaigh (doctor), Murain Eel (sponsor hunter), Slaveiain Much (climber), Dick Trembles (climber), Feargal Killarney (climber), Guinness Murphy (climber), Dean 0'Mack (climber), Buster Ratchole (climber), Murray Bladdertalk (climber) and Bushmills Jameson (climber).
The team is a very experienced team. We have been on climbing expeditions together in Holland, Belgium, Skåne (Sweden), Latvia, Sussex (England) and Ireland. We are well trained and up for the job.
In addition to the climbers; we also have five high altitude sherpas and twenty other sherpas, recruited in Ireland and Scotland.
Climbing expeditions demands alot of top class climbing equipment. Here is some of the stuff we will use on the expedition:
120 canisters of bottled oxygen.
5000 meters of 11 millimeters rope.
400 bolts, carabines, nuts and other safety/anchor devices (climbing gear).
1.35 tonnes of dried food (various).
50 litres of whisky, gin and vodka.
10 Mountaineering For Dummies guidebooks for our sherpas
4 satellite phones.
50 mobile phones
1 tonne of tinned oranges we will hand out the local tribes in Denmark as a sign of respect and friendship.
WE ARE LOOKING FOR SPONSORS FOR OUR THREE MILLION EUROS BUDGET. PLEASE GET IN TOUCH.