Aartun and Gravdal Die On Norwegian Big Wall

Posted on: February 12, 2012


The Norwegian climbing community lost two of its best alpinists this week when Bjørn-Eivind Årtun and Stein-Ivar Gravdal died attempting new ice routes on Kjerag, a big wall rising out of the fjords in southwest Norway. When they didn't return last Thursday as expected, a helicopter was sent out and found the climbers "hanging upside down on the face, motionless and with considerable evidence of blood on the ice below," The BMC reports.

Known best as a big-wall climber, Gravdal was the first to climb the north face of Antarctica's Ulvetanna (2960m), a twenty-one-pitch route reaching difficulties of 5.10 and A4. He made the second complete ascent of the infamous Norwegian Buttress (VII 6b A4, 1500m) on the northeast pillar of Great Trango Tower in 2008.

A photographer and father living in Oslo, Årtun began alpine climbing just six years ago, and has been a Patagonia regular since. He repeated Los Tiempos Perdidos (M5 AI5+) and made a speed ascent of the Ragni Route, both on Cerro Torre. Årtun also established Hvit Linje (600m, WI5) below Poincenot. In December, he and Ole Lied put up Venas Azulas (6b+ A1 AI6, 950m) on Torre Egger, described by Rolando Garibotti as "the Ragni Route on steroids."

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In 2010, Årtun's new route up Mt. Foraker earned he and partner Colin Haley a Piolet d'Or nomination. The duo finished the route in a daring seventy-one-hour push. Haley wrote about their ascent in his Alpinist 32 feature, "Scared":

I might die climbing. You might, too. We can make efforts to minimize the risks, but ultimately we either accept the possibility of dying on a mountain, fool ourselves that the possibility doesn't exist—or we quit.

Sources: thebmc.co.uk, coldthistle.blogspot.com, pataclimb.com.

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Comments
Schooner

My thoughts go to the fatherless children, wife and family members immediately.

I have numerous friends, once exceptional climbers and athletes, that quit high end climbing after they had children. They are my heroes. They are the idols.

Selflessness.

2012-02-17 02:11:54
AlSaffar

This makes me very sad.

I met Bjorn on Denali. We stayed at 14' camp together and I met him back at BC when he just arrived from his and Colin's heroic ascent of Foraker. Bjorn was so calm and friendly. This is a big tragedy.

2012-02-16 16:55:27
Schooner

Something has gone very very wrong in the collective conscious of the climbing community.... take stock people. Getting old is rewarding.

2012-02-14 23:50:30
cosmin_andron

awful news...

2012-02-12 16:54:21
terrinhaley

I met Bjorn in Bellingham , WA. He had a sweetness and a lightness, a quiet, beautiful human being.

2012-02-12 08:17:42
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