Mount Everest Foundation
Supporting the exploratory

MEF Expedition Establishes New Routes on Svalbard

After travelling onto and across the icecap over two and a half weeks, Sasha Doyle and Ed Luke arrived in the Atomfjella range where they succeeded in climbing three new routes.

The view from Chadwickruggen

The team of two travelled to the range using a combination of their own power and ski kiting. With the winds initially blowing in the wrong direction, they were forced to haul, before shuttling their gear up onto the icecap and catching more favourable winds to within two days' travel of base camp.

Doyle commented: "Once we were up there, the winds luckily turned in our favour and we were blown Southerly and South Easterly for some time along the icecap. There were moments where arctic terns flew along with my kite, and the great expanse of ice stretched out ahead of us and I felt like I was floating on top of a gentle world of white. The hardships of the week before melted away."

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They arrived to good weather in base camp and, despite their exhaustion from the long journey, they rose early the next day to take advantage of the fine conditions. The most appealing line was a long ridge leading to the summit of Chadwickruggen (1600m).

"It proved a little longer than we first thought, 1100m and challenging at times, but we were back at our tent for 1am and thrilled to have had such an adventure already." explained Doyle.

The following week they climbed two further lines; a short but technical route on a subsidiary summit of Westbyfjellet (~1500m) and a direct line up the south-east face of Chadwickruggen.

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Their retrun journey proved to be no less challenging than the way out had been. With Spring arriving early, they received news that the snow in the valleys had already melted. Uncertain of what to do, they headed for the coast with the aim of hopping a tourist vessel back to civilisation.

Doyle explains: "It was a very difficult push to make it down to the bay and the edge of the seaice in the end, and we came across many fresh bear prints which got the heart pumping! All that being said, it all worked out, we were delighted not to see any Polar bears, and be lucky enough to walk straight off the seaice onto the safety, warmth and food of the tourist vessel."

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This expedition is one of dozens in 2024 being supported by the Mount Everest Foundation, which provides funding to exploratory mountaineering and scientific expeditions taking place in mountain regions.

If you'd like to learn more about our work and/or apply for funding, you can do so via our Information Page.

Photos courtesy of Ed Luke and Sasha Doyle