Bøttnebekken (WI3), Hemsedal

The previous Saturday I had failed to get anything climbed...

The initial plan had been to try Demonstranten on Skogshorn but we had started too late. Getting the car stuck in the snow hadn't helped matters. Then there was the snow, which was deeper than expected. But apart from these mild excuses the main problem was that we had underestimated the time needed for the approach and started far too late. It was already 9am with the start of the route feeling a long way off and the parked car still relatively close. We conservatively opted to bail whilst we still had an alternative and attempt to find some ice in the valley.

...The problem was that we didn't have a plan in reserve and didn't know the area particularly well. We flicked through the guidebook looking for options. Flagetfossen looked a possibility but we couldn't find the route (we were looking to the right of Flagetfeltet rather than to the left). Then we drove to Haugsfossen but the top of the route looked a bit thin. Then Golsjuvet but both the river and routes were only partially frozen. By this time it was after 2pm so we headed home. It had been a fun exploring the area nevertheless and I anticipated I would be back in the weeks to come anyway.

Understandably this weekend I was keen to 'get something done'. Bøttnebekken sounded a fairly safe early season choice. It was also the closest route to our hytte in Grøndalen and also close to the road, which meant we had the luxury of waiting until sunrise to properly view the route from the car door before committing. As it happened, we failed to spot the route due to the amount of snow coverage in the upper half, however things looked positive due to the amount of ice that the nearby route called Helgesetbekken was holding.

Bøttnebekken looking nondescript from the roadside

We made the short bash up through the trees with relative ease. Bøttnebekken looked thin but unquestionably climbable. There was running water towards the left-hand side but up the centre the ice looked adequately thick and stable. It was time to rack-up and get the winter season started...

Anna beneath the route

The initial steep section provided some enjoyable bridging and firm axe placements before the steepness eased back to a slabby angle. Then some plasticy white ice that felt great for axe placements but quickly cracked and collapsed under the weight of my crampons. Gear in the lower portion of the climb was limited to a few short screws in selected places but their spacing felt sufficient enough for comfort and my axe placements were always solid.

The winter season begins...

Easy angled ice

Then at about 20m height I placed a couple of long screws in a more ample flow of ice to steady the boat. From here there was a short traverse out left and up to another short steeper section. This one was maybe slightly harder than the first one but overall the climbing felt steady. Where the route eased back to slabby climbing the ice often thinned out and became buried under a coverage of snow. This was particularly true above the second steeper section, where a little hunting around was needed in order to find sufficient purchase.

Anna led the final section of ice to a tree belay at the top. From here we were treated to a great view over the valley under clear blue skies. Very unlike my last winter outing I thought!

The view

We made the descent by foot back to our bags via gentle slopes to the left of the route. By this time it was around 1pm. Possibly time for a second route but it would be tight. Better to go for a drive and check-out options for the next day we thought...

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