Climbing Beerenberg

Kind permission by Milo Newman

Sailing to Jan Mayen on a 43ft Gentlemen’s Cutter is just part of this great adventure. On arrival; and on finding a safe and sheltered anchorage, Will, Justin and myself plan to haul some kit onto the beach and make preparations for an ascent of the island’s impressive volcano; Beerenberg. 

At 2277m Beerenberg is the world’s northernmost volcano and it dominates this extraordinary island. Often shrouded in cloud and foreboding with its dressing of glacier; it offers a true mountaineering challenge. 

It has been climbed before of course, but I’d wager it’s not in many people’s logbook. The three of us plan to yomp with hefty rucksacks to a point near the snow line, where we will establish a bivi, rest-up and get ourselves set for what we think will be a ‘long-day’ on the mountain’s SW flank. 

The feature is heavily crevassed, and we will need to move roped together at all times. Each year, as the glacier descends, these cracks move and change, so a significant part of our ascent to the crater rim will involve selecting the optimum line through these obstacles. It will be a long slog, but our Norway training should have put us in good stead for a gnarly day out! 

On reaching the crater rim, we hope to be traversing steadily to the volcano’s high point. The ice is likely to be pretty firm along this spine, and again crampons and axes will be necessary to gain purchase across its many undulations. If weather conditions are kind, this traverse should offer the most amazing view of the whole island. 

Kind permission by Milo Newman

But, we do have to be realistic. We have a short time window to work in and we are still relatively early in the season, so the weather will influence every aspect of this trip. Nothing is guaranteed… but we will be throwing all we have at this beautiful volcano climb.

To be among the tiny handful of people to have stood upon Beerenberg’s lofty roof will be an honour and a privilege.

Paul Mattin, Esq

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