Century-old alpine club elects first woman president


his year the Norwegian Alpine Club (NTK) is celebrating its hundredth anniversary. The members have elected their first woman president to lead the club into the next century.

UIAA President Mike Mortimer was in Oslo for the celebrations and had the chance to congratulate the ground-breaking new leader in person.

Women have only been allowed as members of the NTK since 1975, and Ragnhild Amundsen was the fourth woman to join the club in 1983.

“After 100 years I think it was about time that our club had a woman president,” she says of NTK, which is the oldest of the two Norwegian UIAA Member Federations.

Amundsen says that there are a lot of women climbers in Norway, but that this is not really reflected in NTK’s membership. Still only 10 per cent of the club’s members are women. “But I ask everyone I meet if they want to join,” she says with a smile.

She feels that the community has become a lot more open to women since she started climbing at age 15, as the only girl in her local group of climbers. Since there are more women who climb, “girls and climbing is not considered weird anymore,” she says.

Women had already been leaders of NTK’s local clubs and sat on the board so “the only thing missing was a woman president,” Amundsen says. Among UIAA’s other member federations, there are only about three that have women presidents.

Amundsen believes that young women climbers today can achieve what they want. “You don’t have to wait for a place on a men’s expedition, you can just organise your own,” is her challenge to other women climbers. Amundsen has of course followed her own advice and lead an expedition to Broad Peak in Karakoram, Pakistan.

Amundsen also took part in the first free climb ascent of the Rimmon route on the famous Norwegian Troll Wall and has several first ascents on mountains in her country. She is not related to the famous Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who led the first successful expedition to the South Pole, but says that a lot of Norwegians identify with him and polar explorer Fritjof Nansen.