Showing posts from February, 2015

Hesthåggån, Oppdal

I can't help but compare the drive into Drivdalen with the approach across Rannoch Moor and into Glen Coe. There's a similar barren expanse before the valley closes in and starts its descent. Oppdal generally looks a lot more Scottish than other places in Norway that I've visited. The hills have a weathered look and comparative bleakness similar to the highlands. The milder temps and chill from the gusting winds during Saturday morning also felt very Scottish but fortunately we were sheltered for most of the day.

The farm tack leading towards Tøftfossen (WI4) was fit for ice skates. Soon we were aborting from this planned objective having seen the size of the cornice hanging over the route. It looked potentially impassable and so better to find another objective whilst the day was young. Maybe one for the early season next winter.

There looked to be plenty of alternative options in the valley and nearby Hesthåggån looked in good shape with plenty of climbing in a localised…

Kong Vinter, Rjukan

The weather had been particularly warm in Rjukan between Wednesday and Friday, peaking at about 7 degrees. Both day and night. Lots of sustained thawing and little time for a refreeze before the weekend. Prior conditions at the higher venues I knew had been lean but often good. Therefore we would need to play it safe with venue choice. In between climbing there would be some evening entertainment associated with the Rjukan Ice Festival, which would hopefully make up for any less-than-perfect ice.

Rob and Charlene were visiting from the UK for the weekend and keen to make the most of the conditions. Kong Vinter would be our plan A. It looked suitably high and sheltered and potentially a good option for avoiding the festival crowds, who would hopefully stay closer to Rjukan. Our plan B would be the crag on Gausta, which was likely in good condition, albeit not the most inspiring place. With little snow cover the approach would probably be easy.

The good news was that Kong Vinter had cli…

Solisen, Alta

Our flight back to Oslo was due to depart at 6pm so any sort of unplanned moderate drama needed to be avoided. A venue called Solisen, south of Kløften, looked a safe bet, with some decent single-pitch routes in close proximity to the road.

The horizontal snow had finally abated with clear skies and uninhibited views of the coastline and hills now predominating. It was good to see what the Alta area looked like before leaving. Despite the clear weather it was biting cold, with a considerable wind chill.

We parked directly beneath the routes. The approach was relatively short, however some exceptionally deep snow made things more protracted. Sometimes the snow extended to my waist, needing me to clear the top foot of snow with my hands in order to advance a step. Not particularly tiring, given the depth of powder but certainly time consuming. Mechanically I climbed the slope in this fashion, following the repeatitive clearing process with each advancement, slowly forming a deep trench …

Øytunfossen (WI3), Alta

Expecting to see the Northern Lights whilst in Alta was looking an optimistic affair, given the extended periods of snowfall since our arrival. At least we had witnessed them clearly during our inbound flight whilst above the clouds. The snowfall probably peaked during Saturday morning when it escalating into a moderate blizzard, culminating into some of the flattest light conditions I have needed to drive. Now I understand the need for the red markers at the side of the roads.

After two days of failure it seemed sensible to lower the bar a little and make finishing a route the priority. A 150m WI3 route called Havørna sounded a safe bet. Particularly with it's one minute approach and other routes in the immediate vicinity. Surely an easy mission? As it turned out the 883, which branched from the E6, didn't look recently ploughed so we were again scratching our heads for a plan B.

Fortunately from the this point in the trip the weather began to clear up. We drove back to Kløf…

Borrasbekken (WI4) & Nussurabekken (WI3), Transfarelv, Alta

Borrasbekken looked a stunning route when viewed at a distance from the E6. It trailed down the hillside like river of ice and begged to be climbed. It would need a fairly long approach through flat forest but it looked worthy of an early start.

The major topic of conversational during the walk-in was the snow pack. Lots of surface powder but deep down there would regularly emit a loud, deep cracking sound that would radiate outwards. Whole plates of snow around us would subtly sink. Clearly all was not well with the snow pack and descending Borrasbekken by any means other than by abalakov felt a scary prospect.

Closer inspection of the base of the route indicated that unfortunately it wasn't quite in ideal condition. The first pitch looked much harder than its listed WI4 grade. Hard for WI5 in fact. The lower part was a conglomerate of icicles, poorly filled-in, and offering little in the way of protection. Climbing at the limit of my ability AND on poor protection was too big a…

Normalveien (WI4), Isberget, Alta

A three pitch route called Normalveien at an area called Isberget was high on the agenda during our trip to Alta. It looked an amazing line from the topo and even better in the flesh, winding its way up the type of cliff face usually reserved for much harder routes. The other routes on the cliff side were not fully formed and we were uncertain about the first pitch of our chosen route due to forest cover obstructing our view. The walk to the base of the route was however relatively short and initial impressions were that the route might be climbable. There looked to be a thinner ice towards the top of the first pitch but definitely worth a closer investigation.

The climbing moved between steps and ledges. The easy angled sections and shelves were banked-out with unconsolidated snow. I needed to methodically sweep this in order to discover the contours of the ice beneath. On steeper sections the ice was a little fissured, encouraging me to be conservative with screw placements to guard…

A Couple of Routes at Kløftan, Alta

Anna and me planned an easy first day (of five) in Alta after a late arrival the previous evening. No alarm clock set... get up when we wake up. Of course a late start at sixty-nine degrees North somewhat limits options. Our unadventurous plan therefore was for something short and close to the road. Lots of fresh snow lay on the ground further dissuading too much exploration..
Kløftan looked to have a good density of routes. Nettisen (WI3) and Nettisenkløfta (WI4) looked suitable entry points for our trip and close to a lay-by. The latter proved to be too thin to consider but Nettisen looked worthwhile.

A very short bash through the snow brought us to beneath the route. A gentle-angled start held a lot of snow but ceased where the ice steepened. I followed a weakness up the centre of the fall, over a step, and then up a short steep corner. The ice was hard and brittle, shattering regularly, needing care to find sound placements. Then, as the angle eased back, the snow clearing began.…