Agent Orange, Hægefjell

It began to rain as we were gearing up at the bottom of the route. It fell gently so it made sense to start climbing before the slabbed rock begun to lose friction. Hopefully it would pass, otherwise we we be abseiling from the first belay. Quickly I padded up the rock, clipping the spaced bolts that were painted orange in relation to the route's name Agent Orange. My foot slipped on some smooth quartz embedded in the rock, I stammered but stayed put. The forecast had looked unstable so choosing an easier route with bolt belays looked a safe bet in light of a possible quick escape. The forecast also looked to get worse as the day progressed so something uncomplicated made sense.

Fortunately the rain passed and any thoughts of retreat quickly passed with it. More slab padding, bolt clipping antics followed on the second pitch before my trad rack finally needed to be utilised on the third pitch.

The third pitch proved to be a beautiful one, following a curving corner crack with some lovely positive lay-backing moves, and backed-up by positive cam placements. A couple of bolts protected a short unprotectable off-width section before the corner broke left below a shallow roof. I traversed beneath this, placing some solid cams on long runners until the roof ended and the corner continued up the slabs again. Our respective guidebooks graded it 5- and 5+ and it felt somewhere in the middle.

Climbing the initial corner on the third pitch
Photo by Anna Kennedy
Ann at the top of the third pitch
Steady climbing followed for the remaining pitches with a sequence of easy shallow corners that disrupted the surrounding smooth faces. The features thinned out for the final couple of pitches and the bolts reappeared to supplement the lack of natural protection.

Top of the fifth pitch
Start of the sixth pitch
One of the problems with the bolts being orange was that sometimes they were a little hard to spot when the granite was a similar hue. Often the paint was faded and partially worn away, which helped camourflage their presence. Sometimes I would scan the rock for the next bolt only to find one under my nose. The last pitch was graded 5- with (four) bolts in-situ so Anna started up the pitch without the trad rack in order to save time and weight, expecting the climbing to be easy and bolts where needed. But from a matter of metres below the top of the route she ab'ed back down to me, unsure where the final bolt lay and too far above the last bolt to commit to the final moves up a short wall. I failed to spot the bolt as well but my head was fortunately in better shape to commit to the final moves. Only during the abseil descent did we spot the bolt in the middle of the short wall.

The bolt belays allowed a swift descent to the base of the route. After yesterday's adventure on Mota Sola, Orange Orange felt very steady apart from some careful climbing on the third pitch. It definately fell into the catagory of 'fun' though and was the perfect route for a quick getaway before the rain storms arrived.


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