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.

Anna climbing the initial ramp pitch on Trappfoss
Party time. Note that I (left) can't properly relax due to poor screws and feet
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.

Reaching for me screw placement

...That was excluding two pairs of half ropes and various runners to navigate through. I climbed the pitch in poor style with most of my movements focused on not putting an axe through someone else's ropes (that would be embarrassing) whilst trying to step over quickdraws - seemingly positioned in key locations to try to trip me up. I would find myself performing high foot manoeuvres, or placing my feet in unnatural locations so as avoid ropes and gear. Despite these antics there was jovial spirit on climb with plenty of chit-chat and healthy level of courtesy towards one another.

The quality of the ice was indifferent although easy. Made simpler by some moderately stepped ice from previous parties. Sometimes the ice was brittle, which meant a fair amount of ice raining down on Anna, who was belaying at the top of the ramp. Other times the ice became thin, although mostly it was fine for screws. The angle eased back towards the the top of my 60m pitch, which meant more snow and less ice and not the best of belays. Then a short 20m pitch leading out right to the top of the route.

Climbers on neighbouring Juvsøyla

It was too late for a second route in the gorge so we marched through the forest to Kroken via a beaten trail. Kroken was not surprisingly packed. No doubt partially due to some of the lower venues having yet to come into condition. I made a quick ascent of Kjøkkentrappa, which held some good ice on the left hand side, before hitching a lift back to the car at Vermork Bridge.

Kroken

Kjøkkentrappa

And so ended my first day in Rjukan in five years. The volume of climbers in Rjukan is quite staggering compared to the rest of Norway but there again my first trip to Norway was also Rjukan. Elsewhere in the country it's not been commonplace not see another climber for the whole weekend, yet today I found myself lined up with three other people midway up a pitch. The increased numbers in Rjukan definitely makes for a more sociable trip although it compromises the adventure for me somewhat. In moderation that's fine and I'll happily take my readily bashed trail to the base of a route without complaint every so often.

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