Haugsfossen (WI4), Hemsedal

We had lost the best part of a day's climbing due to Murilo's flight from the UK having been delayed as a result of the air traffic control computer failure. He landed on Saturday at 4pm instead of the planned Friday at 11pm but at least this meant a drive to Hemsedal at a sociable hour with no need to sleep in the back of the car on route as originally planned. Sunday morning we were feeling fresh and after my first winter outings the previous weekend I was feeling ready to start ticking some better known classics in the area.

It was another cold day in Hemsedal. Haugsfossen looked in a climbable condition from the road and so begged for a closer view. Fortunately we were not the first to do so this winter meaning there was an easy trail through the snow to the base of the route. Also helped by the reduced snow cover compared to last weekend. The left side of the icefall looked thin but there was an obvious channel of well-formed ice towards the right side. Elsewhere Indre and Ytre Haugsfoss were looking too thin to contemplate.

Haugsfossen (left) and Indre Haugsfoss (right)

Beneath the route

I led the lower half of the fall, which was beautifully formed. My axes bit into the ice with ease. Cauliflower formations often offered strong natural hooks between them. The narrow passage of thicker ice forced me to follow a line rather than me dictate my passage, which made route-finding a more interesting affair. Steep climbing was interspersed with more gentle breathers. For the large part the ice was thick enough for long screws, although a couple of brief thin sections still existed. Here water flowed without noise behind the ice like a silent movie. This contrasted with the high-pitched atmospheric twangs of tiny snapping icicles as I made space for my axe placements. I made a belay at about half height so that we could equally share the lead. 

Leading the lower part of the icefall
(photo credit: Murilo Lessa)
Midway up the icefall

The angle in the upper half of the icefall eased off generally with just a couple of steeper sections. Extra care was needed at the icefall's head, where the ice became much leaner and the snow much deeper.

Close to the top

We finished the route in good time and so optimistically hoped to squeeze in a second route in before dusk. The problem was that there was nothing worth leading in the immediate vicinity. We drove to Grøndalen and marched up to Helgesetbekken but by which time it was 14.50. Already the light was flat and fading as it had been snowing throughout the afternoon with low snow clouds lingering. More to the point the route didn't look something that we were going to quickly run up as the lower half looked particularly steep (certainly not a 3+ in current form). We thought better of it and went for a coffee instead like true hardened climbers. All the more motivation for something challenging the following day though.

Helgesetbekken. Not WI3+ currently


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