Øvre Lauvdøla (WI3), Hemsedal

Our initial plan was to try the climbs at Botnajuvet but having descended most of the way into the Lauvdøla ravine we decided to switch plans. Partly because there was still a lot of running water running through the ravine and partly because I could sense that Anna was finding the approach a little too protracted, given the amount of snow we were wading through in just our boots. We still needed to cross the water and then ascend back up the other side of the valley, which was looking a big day out currently.

Descending to the Lauvdølejuv ravine on route to Botnajuvet
(Shortly before aborting)

We turned around and ploughed back uphill with the plan to head for the moderate icefall called Øvre Lauvdøla, which was relatively close-by as the crow flies. The problem for non-crows was that we were on the East side of the Lauvdølejuv ravine running North-South and we needed to be on the West side. The ravine also forked a short way south with our climb lying in the far right hand branch. There were no presenting opportunities to cross to the other side due the ravine being hemmed in by steep rock walls. Further to this our map showed the water in the left-hand branch turning sharply Eastwards a little further South so we were likely walking into a dead-end. We cut our losses and headed back to the car knowing that we could cross the water at the bridge adjacent to the car park, which was incidentally what the guidebook advised anyway. It was 11:30 by the time we returned to the car. A round trip of around 2.5 hours and quite a few calories burnt. Time for some early lunch. At which point I couldn't help but notice how much colder this spot was compared to the previous day.

Second attempt we crossed the bridge and then cut west as indicated by the guidebook. As it happened the left-hand branch of the Lauvdølejuv ravine continued further south beyond where the stream cut Eastwards but by this point it was shallower and much easier to find a way to descend into and out of. Then more bashing through snow and trees to the ravine where our route lay. I had entered into my phone the coordinates of the route but as it turned out the route was actually a few hundred metres further South along the ravine on the Western side. 

We descended into the ravine whilst there was good opportunity, which was a mistake as the water running through it was only superficially frozen. Unexpectedly the surface ice would crack, at which point I would throw myself forward onto all fours in order to spread my load. Anna resorted to crawling on a couple of occasions. All good fun but in hindsight the easier option would have been to follow the East bank of the ravine until directly opposite the the icefall and then descend via another easy slope.

Descending the ravine to our route

Preventative measures to stop the ice breaking

The good news after all our exploration was that Øvre Lauvdøla was looking in surprising good shape for so early in the season. I eagerly geared-up for some long overdue climbing.

Our route

The ice was pleasantly thick although proved much harder work compared to the previous day. No doubt due to the higher altitude and generally colder temperatures than at Grøndalen. Often multiple swings would be needed to adequately pierce the ice and gain purchase although the ice was partially cooperative by not dinner plating overly. Needless to say all my ice screws felt totally solid. The climbing was enjoyable although a little short-lived to really stand out. It was just what was needed for the first weekend out though, given that the goal was primarily to find climbable ice. It's a shame there was not more ice in the vicinity as I had quickly warmed to the secluded feel of the ravine.

Placing ice screws at will

Anna tried her hand at leading the route as well but wasn't liking the hardness of the ice and so ab'ed off from half height. But only after yelling some expletives at her ice axes that I couldn't possibly repeat here, all of which had no effect. Anyway, this meant I got to climb the route again for extra mileage points and Anna got to second it, which she managed without drama.

Anna leading the route

There seemed a remarkably easier way to return to our car verses how we had approached. From the top of the route we crossed the fence and followed a gentle SW-S-SE curving arc towards an isolated hut besides the cross-country ski trail. From here it was an easy walk along the piste back to the car park. 25 minutes total.

So two routes in two days as planned. Just what the Doctor ordered and a good foundation for another foray next weekend.


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