Showing posts from 2015

Øvredalsrenna (WI3/M3), Hemsedal

The pressure to get something climbed on Sunday was on after the volume of food consumed Saturday night. Half a box of ice cream, a large tub of cottage cheese, and a skolebrød were the trimmings to the main course of tacos. The reason for so much consumption related to the total lack of energy and fatigue during Saturday. Grand plans made on Friday had whittled down to getting nothing done the following day. The battery felt flat midway through the walk-in and by the time we were under a route I was ready to leave. Didn't see that coming...

Sunday morning I didn't feel a huge deal better but then at 5am on a Sunday things rarely do. Clearly I hadn't recovered from the previous weekend. The basic plan was aim low, take the walk-in at a gentle pace, and hopefully reach the top of something before the battery ran flat again. The fine weather a major motivator for trying again. The low of -22 degrees on the car temperature gauge suggesting it would certainly be cold enough.


Semi-winter conditions on Siluetten

Getting some proper winter conditions this weekend looked too be a marginal affair but Anna and me were more than keen to try our luck. Hemsedal the natural place to poke around in high places. On Saturday however I managed just 5m of climbing before backing off due to cruddy ice. The route in question being Øvredalsrenna in Øvredalen. The light trickle of water behind the bad ice meant that much of the ground also wasn't frozen sufficiently. Elsewhere nothing really looked in proper winter nick and so we retired to the local swimming baths to review our strategy for Sunday.

The biggest incentive for sticking around on Sunday was the fine weather forecast. Clear skies and freezing temperatures expected, so potentially a good day to be in the hills. Both Skogshorn and Skurvefjell had looked to be in a semi-winter state on Saturday. Fresh snow had fallen through the late morning and early afternoon but temperatures felt barely freezing. The harder mixed lines on Skogshorn would need…

Dry Tooling at Heggedal

The previous weekend had been a strong indicator that winter training should begin in earnest. I had managed just one rock route in two days due to wet rock. Ideally my winter preparation should have begun sooner but the fantastic autumn rock climbing conditions around Oslo and Drammen had prolonged my motivation for climbing in rock shoes.

Dry tooling hasn't really caught on in Norway and there is very little development. Heggedal looked the obvious place to start though. The local Drammen guidebook described it as a collection of ice and mixed crags but the simple topos suggested a handful of bolted routes might be possible without ice formation. I made further investigation with Anna and Stig.

We first visited a crag called Mullaveggen but the bolted routes here were under perpetual shower. How much this related to the overnight rain I don't know, however the cracked rock appeared otherwise ideal.

We moved on to another area called Buldreveggen. After a little searching alo…

Den Hvite Stripa (n6), Andersnatten

I was more apprehensive about Den Hvite Stripa than any route for a long time. The crux pitch I understood to be very bold, with just a couple of bolts on the crux pitch and no possibility for supplementary gear. A bold n6 grade would probably equate to something like UK E2 5b, and so right on my limit. The lack of an adjective grade with the Nordic grading system meant this was just an educated guess though.

How big would the run-outs be?

Big enough to pass my belayer on the way down?

Where did the actual crux moves lie in relation to the bolts?

One thing I did know was that my slab climbing abilities had only slightly improved in recent years and so felt close to a plateau. Now or never.

I lost the paper, scissors, stone contest. 'Lost' in so far as my partner Sten would lead the first pitch leaving the crux second pitch to me.

Just mounting the short wall at the start of the second pitch in order to gain the slab seemed an ordeal. Where were the hand holds? Maybe it was the…

Pakistan Debrief: What worked and what didn't

My one month trip to the Karakoram during summer 2015 could loosely be regarded as a success in that we climbed three small summits, two of which were first ascents. We had planned bigger objectives prior to the trip and we also fell short in this respect. The trip as a whole was far from being problem free and all too easily it could have been a disaster. There were lots of factors involved so I thought it was worth writing about some of the problems we experienced as well as things that worked well. As much as a reminder to myself for future trips. The original trip report is here for anybody interested.


Lack of porters at the trail head in Passu was our first problem, which I had not anticipated away from the Baltoro region. It has been ten years since I last hired porters in Pakistan and maybe the numbers have dropped off because of the lack of visitors. Maybe we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A local cricket match apparently depleted availability but I…

Via Lara, Hægefjell

My girlfriend Anna had undergone a SLAP tear repair in March. For those unfamiliar, this entails the ring of cartilage lining the shoulder socket being reattached. In Anna's case two thirds of this cartilage had become detached through a multitude of injuries over the years. Amazingly she had climbed her hardest ice pitch immediately prior to the operation.

Six months later her gradual recovery had reached a stage where she was ready to begin climbing again. We climbed Via Dolorosa, the easy slab climb at Vardåsen, a matter of hours after being given the green light to climb by her physio. It passed without drama and so Via Lara at Hægefjell seemed the suitable progression the coming weeekend. Another easy slab climb of no greater difficulty, only seven pitches instead of three.

Saturday's forcast was expected to be dry until around 7pm, meaning rain would affect only the BBQ rather than the climbing. Hægefjell's campsite lacked mobile signal though, so Friday evening'…

Karakoram First Ascents in the Lupgar Mountains

SummaryMurilo Lessa and myself (Lee Harrison) visited the Lupgar Mountains of the Karakoram during July 2015. We climbed three sub-6000m summits in Alpine-style from the Yokshgoz Valley. P5702 and P5589 we believe are first ascents with the ascent of P5665 suspected to be a second ascent via a new route.

Background The Lupgar Mountains lie in the North-West corner of the Karakoram, between the Batura Muztagh and the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan. I first visited the area in 2006. On that occasion I failed to climb a proper summit via the Lupgar Valley but at least gained enough elevation for fine views of the peaks at the head of the Yokshgoz Glacier as well as the neighbouring valley running parallel to the North-East. Nine years passed before I returned for further investigation.

Our plan was to set a base camp midway along the Yokshgoz Glacier so as to make both the upper reaches of the Yokshgoz Glacier and the unnamed valley accessible. The 45km approach would involve trekking par…