During a six-week trip to Queen Maud Land in Antarctica, Bavarian brothers Alex and Thomas Huber, along with Stephan Siegrist from Switzerland, climbed new routes on two enormous, otherworldy rock towers thrusting from the ice cap. The trio made the first ascent of the 2,500-foot west face of Holtanna, the north buttress of Holtanna, and the west buttress of Ulvetanna.
The team had planned to attempt a big-wall free climb on the frozen continent, but deep cold and steady winds soon put an end to those thoughts. Pitches that would have gone at 5.11 in warmer temperatures were unthinkable in temperatures of 20°F below zero, they said. Instead, they continued with aid climbing up to A4 on the first ascent of the 24-pitch Eiszeit (“Ice Age”, 750m, 5.11- A4) on the west face of Holtanna. In the process they made the third ascent of the tower.
The fourth ascent came about a week later, as the team free-climbed the 10-pitch north buttress of Holtanna via Skywalk (450m, 5.10). Holtanna was first climbed in late 2000, via the south pillar, by an international team.
With just a few days before they were scheduled to fly out of Queen Maud Land, a brief weather window allowed the Hubers and Siegrist to complete a two-day ascent of Ulvetanna via the northwest buttress. Sound of Silence (800m, 5.11- A2 60°) was the third line on the striking peak. Norwegian teams had climbed the west face (1994) and north face (2006).
Dates of Ascents: November-December 2008
Sources: Antarctic Expedition, American Alpine Journal