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Kiwi conquers the unconquerable

Saturday 25 Feb 2012 5:28 p.m.

By Alex Bourn

Bouvet Island is one of the most isolated places on earth and now a team led by a Kiwi explorer has conquered the harsh terrain to get to the top.

It was the enticement of the unknown that drew Kiwi Aaron Halstead to approach the unapproachable Bouvet Island.

“There are a number of places around the world that are untouched and unclimbed, and Bouvet is one of those places that climbers have been dreaming of climbing for 50 years - no one’s done it yet,” says Halstead.

The Queenstown-based mountain-explorer, along with three others, reached the island's highest peak - a nine-hour ascent to the icy summit.

“We arrived at it was stormy, it was 80 km/h winds, and you couldn’t see anything on the summit, but there was that sense of ‘wow we’ve really done this’. We didn’t think it was possible to even get ashore and here we are standing on the summit,” says Halstead.

More than 2000 kilometres from any land, Bouvet's harsh, volcanic terrain is covered in ice and battered by Antarctic swell, and Halstead says just getting ashore was their greatest challenge.

“The trickiest about Bouvet is that there are actually only a few days of the year when you can land there – you actually have to pick your weather window and go very very fast to get there and back in time,” he says.

Bouvet Island is Norwegian territory and the team needed permission from the government to land so they took a Norwegian flag to the peak to show thanks.

The expedition was Halstead's 21st to Antarctica, but he will continue to climb to the top with three more explorations planned in the coming year.

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