Showing posts from January, 2015

Murekløve (WI4), Hemsedal

Murekløve had looked in fine condition when I had last visited Grøndalen but on that occasion I had favoured the classic Vøllokula. Naturally Murekløve was on the short-list for this weekend. Something a little bit more mixed was also under consideration, however routes such as Ønderdalsdiederet and Teigafossen were holding too much snow to make any proper judgement as to their condition and wading through deep snow for a closer look naturally didn't really appeal. I was a little bit wary of Grøndalen's SW aspect, however the ice on Murekløve looked to be in decent enough condition, although the easier pitches looked to be partially submerged under snow. Elsewhere neighbouring Nystølfossen looked to have melted-out a little since last visiting but Vøllokula was particularly fine. In the main valley Grøtenutbekken was also still looking in excellent shape.

Approaching Murekløve took nearly 1.5 hours due to deep snow, although we were always making steady upward progress.

The fi…

Nye Vermorkfoss (WI5) & Svingfoss (WI4), Rjukan

After pushing my grade the previous weekend and then falling off I was naturally feeling a little bit conservative with my ambitions for this weekend.

...That was until around the middle of the week when I started flicking through the Rjukan guide and talking to people. Many of the WI5s looked very amiable and realistically within my leading ability.

Nye Vermorkfoss had looked particularly doable the previous morning and not much harder (if at all) to what I had already lead this winter. Plus many of the routes in the Upper Gorge looked to have seen plenty of traffic, which would likely soften the route's difficulty. I also knew that Anna wouldn't begrudge me if I chickened out at the crux, which meant no reason not to give it a go.

As anticipated the main pitch proved straightforward with a sequence of well formed troughs with which to bury my picks. A split running up the centre of the column further aided matters by allowing me to bridge my feet up either side whilst keepin…

Trappfoss (WI4) & Kjøkkentrappa (WI4). Rjukan

Things became somewhat crowded on the second pitch of Trappfoss. Three leaders (which included myself) had confidently anticipated climbing independent lines but in reality much of the ice was poorly formed except a narrow passage, which now created a bottleneck. We had all converged and were now hanging from belays. That is except for me who arrived last on the scene and had to make do with a couple of poor screw placements out left. Rather than test them fully I gripped my axes and waited for the congestion to clear. Add to this group one of the climbers on second and we had what probably constitutes a party in Rjukan.

I was reluctant to climb left because of poor ice and above me lay the neighbouring belay screws, which I wanted to give suitable breadth. I patiently waited. When things began to clear I reached out right to place a long screw on the far side of a pair of legs and then carefully traversed around.

Finally some space to climb.

...That was excluding two pairs of half ro…


We were both feeling pretty exhausted after yesterday's effort so headed to Golsjuvet for a few hours cragging. I started on line close to Tripp (WI4). I was probably to the right of the actual line due to there being no ice directly beneath the lower-off bolts and instead abseiled from an Abalakov thread.

Next up was Normalveien (WI4), which looked good value for the grade and fairly uniform in steepness. The ice on the left hand side was of worrying wet consistency. Andreas's first axe caused a horizontal crack maybe a metre long along the base of the icefall. Thankfully the ice on the right side was better formed, drier and also hooked-up, meaning minimal impact with the axes was needed. We each lead the route, then top-roped it for extra mileage. Second time around I hooked the whole route without swinging an axe.

The Upper Sector of the crag was looking good for some steeper climbing but we were keen to make an early get-away. Plenty to return for next time I don't fa…

Grøtenutbekken (WI5), Hemsedal

'Jesus Christ' I muttered to myself at the sight of the mound of snow waiting at the top of the short pillar. It was stacked easily 50cm high. Too dense to swing my axe through but too soft for my axes to bite. I urgently began hacking the heavy snow from the slab but I could feel the pump building. My bent posture over the slab meant it was difficult to rest my arms and if anything I was probably over-gripping due to not trusting my foot placements.

Then I was off...

My last screw was level with my feet but I fell maybe 10m. A bruised left elbow and hip but otherwise was fine. I caught a glimpse of ice screws bouncing down the ice, presumably they had blown during the fall. I looked up to see that all had all held. Instead my front ice screw clippers were empty, somehow opening themselves during the fall. Then there was the mystery of where my ice axes lay. They weren't on the ends of my leashes, which were now wrapped over a shoulder and in perfect condition. All that I …

Overraskelsen (WI4), Oppdal

Yesterday's morning drive had indicated a lack of ice formation in the Oppdal valley. This I presumed related to dry months a preceding winter, rather than through lack of cold temperatures. There appeared to be routes in condition higher up the hillsides but the massive dump of new snow with winds the previous day had left us wary about venturing anywhere near deep snow and particularly wind slab. West-facing aspects sounded the safest bet - reinforced by the cornice rimming much of the opposite side of the valley.

A route called Overraskelsen, between Bjølla and Kongsvollfossen, sounded a good option and looked to be in condition from the road. It lay not too far above the E6, meaning not too much wading on the approach. The route consisted of three pitches of discontinuous ice climbing stretching up the hillside but looked a suitably adventurous outing.

We waded through the knee deep snow to the start of the route from where Anna led some short steps of ice to beneath the first…

Nybegynnergjellet, Oppdal

Snow snaked and weaved across the road in front of the car as though it was haunted. The thermometer had showed -22 degrees when we had arrived in Oppdal kommune the previous night and although it had warmed to approximately half that figure snow was now falling heavily and blowing across the valley, making for some very wintry conditions. A day for finding some short routes close to the road and saving the bigger effort for the following day when the snow would largely have abated.

We paid a visit to the quarry at Skiferbrudd but were disappointed to find no climbable ice. Nearby Bratt'n i Gjelet looked to maybe be climbable but the build-up of ice was impossible to gauge through the blizzard and we weren't overly motivated to climb the ravine for a closer inspection. We drove back South back options as thin as much of the ice. Brudetrusa was still looking fine but we had ticked that on our last visit. By late morning Bjølla had a pair of top-ropes hanging down the right side…

Vøllokula (WI4), Hemsedal

I had parked the car beneath Vøllokula last month but had been slightly scared about the prospect of climbing the initial intimidatingly steep pitch in less than perfect conditions. I had been laid up through much of the autumn with a pulley strain and was lacking the mileage that breeds the confidence to back oneself. With a few more weekends under the belt the car was parked beneath the route again and this time the psych was there. From a distance the route looked in fine shape and completely free of snow.

In close proximity the ice formations on the initial vertical section looked in less than optimal shape after the recent thaw but there was ample ice. The left side of the fall looked the most favourable for screws, with the possibility to bridge the first few metres. I inched my feet up either side, finding easy first time axe placements. Then as the bridging moves subsided so did the good axe placements. All too readily my axes would crack the ice and cause it to change colour …

Flagetfossen (WI3+), Hemsedal

Getting the car stuck on 10 degree ice wasn't the ideal way to start the day. Temperatures in Hemsedal had rocketed in recent days, peaking at around 6 degrees, leaving sheet ice on many of the side roads. Performing a simple 3-point turn had left my wheels spinning on an upward slope with a barrier immediately behind the car. Fortunately a couple of climbers of Cambridge appeared at just the right moment to lend some weight to the back end and shift the car from its predicament. They were planning to climb the same route, which meant for the first time this winter we would have company on the route. Only once the car was properly parked were we able to admire the beautiful sunrise to the East.

Prior to the warm spell the temperatures had been low so I was anticipating plenty of climbable ice. Particularly in light of the fine climbing that I managed during my last trip to Hemsedal three weeks ago. Temperatures had dipped below zero the previous day but probably not enough to halt…