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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bjørn-Eivind Årtun and Stein-Ivar Gravdal RIP

The info below, sad as it is,  was graciously sent to me from climbers in Norway and Sweden yesterday.

"Bjørn-Eivind Årtun (45) and Stein-Ivar Gravdal (37) were found dead attempting a new route at Kjerag in Lysefjorden, Norway yesterday.

They went out on Tuesday expecting to get back Thursday, when they weren't a Sea King was called on Friday and found them hanging from a rope 100m above the scree slope. Local mountain rescue will start a recovery operation today."

When they didn't return, a helicopter search was initiated, and on the morning of February 10 the two climbers were spotted hanging upside down on the face, motionless.  There are indications that a large rockfall was the cause of the accident writes the Norwegian Climbing Federation on their website.

Another really sad day this winter.   Bjørn-Eivind Årtun was certainly one of my climbing heros.  Both were easily two of the world's very best ice climbers.   Bjørn-Eivind was gracious enough to help with the Cold Thistle tool projects early on..   My heart goes out to family and friends.  Both he and Stein-Ivar will be dearly missed.

More on about Stein-Ivar Gravdal here:

"Bjørn-Eivind Årtun on his and Colin's new route, Dracula, Mt Foraker, June 2010."
More here on Bjørn-Eivind

Bjørn-Eivind Årtun soloing on the Cassin

Stein-Ivar Gravdal avec Bjarte Bø, Sigurd Felde et Rolf Bae (†)
Great Trango Tower, 6285 m, Norwegian Buttress, Pakistan, 2008

Stein Ivar Gravdal

photos courtesy of: Bjørn-Eivind Aartun/Annelin Henriksen/Colin Haley

Hopefully a better translation from the previous news feed:

"Two climbers died on Kjerag.  Both SeaKing and personnel at sea abort mission to collect the bodies of
the climbers."  This according Victor Jensen at the Rogaland Police.

"Unfortunately the SeaKing helicopter has to return from Kjerag at 1.30pm. The rescue boat with crew has also returned from the place" says Jensen. "Low cloud and poor visibility has made the mission difficult. The  crews will make a new attempt tomorrow."

The police are attempting to place guards at the scene of the accident until Saturday night.  One of the climbers is from Stavanger and the other from Oslo. Both are well known in the climbing community. They travelled out on Tuesday to climb the Kjerag wall and were due back on Thursday evening. When they didn't return their families tried to reach them on their mobile phones without success. Search and rescue were alerted at 12.30pm on Friday that the two climbers were missing. A SeaKing helicopter sent out and found two people on the mountainside at around 2pm. A little later the climbers were found to be dead.

World class

Ture Bjørgen is a spokesperson for Rogaland mountain rescue, where one of the climbers was a member.
"These were climbers at an elite level. They were extremely experienced, talented and had a long resume of climbs" says a sad Bjørgen, who knew the climbers personally. One of the climbers had climbed the Kjerag wall multiple times previously and completed many new routes according to Bjørgen

Found at the bottom of the wall

The two climbers were found low down on the mountain side and Bjørgen speculates as to what might have happened "As they were found at the very bottom of the mountain side it might mean that they were killed at the very start. They may also have climbed to the top, abseiled down and have been killed at the bottom" says Bjørgen.  Considering that the two are at the bottom of the wall, Bjørgen doesn't think it will be too difficult to get them down again during the day.

More details here:

Coilin Haley, Alpinist 32 "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."


AlpineDave said...

This is indeed very sad. I remember reading the article about Bjorn and Haley's new route on Mt. Foraker and thinking to myself, what an adventure. I am truly saddened by the loss of these two climbers.

Jon Miller said...

The hits keep coming. I'm am so sorry for the loss to their friends and family.

Going climbing for the first time since Jack tomorrow. Hoping to think of nothing but the smiles...

Unknown said...

Sad news indeed both were top level alpinist and in general by all accounts good people overall.

Anyone know if they had kids?

If so I would be willing to pay into a trust set up for education or something like that.

Morten Johansen said...

This is very sad news! I saw Bjørn-Eivind in Rjukan last year, he gave a very inspiring talk! He will be missed by many! I think Bjørn-Eivind had a daughter. RIP


Very sad. Both had kids. Great guys and great climbers.

Cause of accident not conluded, but seems like a big flake on the route dislodged. Some info in norwegian here (image in last link).