With a trip to Chamonix commencing the following weekend this was certainly the last ice climb in Norway for this season and so it deserved a suitable finale to wrap-up what has personally been a great winter. Hydalsfossen had long been pencilled-in for March, when the moderately long approach would hopefully be easier. It looked a classic outing and similar in appearance to Hydnefossen, only milder in difficulty.
Magnus used cross-country skis for the approach, whereas I took snowshoes. Using nothing would have been perfectly adequate given the hardness of the snow. In such fine weather the approach was a joy. And again payback for all the trench digging though deep powder earlier in the season.
|View towards Vavatn|
We approached from the parking near Vavatn, over point 1256m to the top of the route, where the lake that forms Hydalsfossen was totally frozen. Time to leave the sun and descend beneath the North facing cliffs. Rather than abseil directly into the route it seemed perfectly feasible to just descend on foot a little further to the west. Such was the reliable firmness of the neve. At half height a tree persuaded us to make a quick rap to where the angle eased.
|Close to the top of the waterfall|
|Abseiling into the route|
First glimpse of Hydalsfossen really raised the excitement levels. It looked staggeringly impressive and in a wonderful remote setting hidden from the sun. Conditions looked excellent.
The snow beneath route needed caution. A thin than layer of windslab, anything up to 15cm, covered a hard layer of neve with little resistance between. Minimum risk though, given the firmness of the deeper layer, provided we skirted high beneath the cliffs where the slab had no weight.
|Traversing to beneath the route|
Much of the ice spanning the waterfall looked WI5 in difficulty, rising steeply without features, until the angle eased off near half height. A more undulating section of ice left of centre looked to be the obvious weakness and with a few more features to possibly mix the climbing up some more.
Magnus lead the first pitch, following a sustained slanting weakness up and left. Quickly he run into difficulties due to being unaccustomed with brittle ice, however lots of screws in close succession helped ease matters. 35m up he needed to make a belay. Then some minor stoppage to retrieve a dropped screw from some shallow windslab before my turn came.
|Magnus leading the first pitch|
|Magnus at the first belay|
The sustained climbing continued on the second pitch up a series of short steep sections. Often the steeper sections would create more localised weaknesses for which to sink the axes. Then 30m into my pitch the angle eased back a little and the ice softened in equal measure to make for some very satisfying and efficient climbing. I could have finished the route with a little rope to spare, however it made sense to stop short of the top in order to leave plenty of rope to reach whatever belay point lay above the route.
Sadly Magnus had removed his GoPro helmet camera for the second pitch as his moaning during a period of intense hot aches midway up would have made for some compulsive viewing.
|Me on the second pitch|
We had expected the climb to need three pitches but in reality it was only around 100m rather than the 140m stated in the guidebook. Not that this detracted but in summary the fine weather, remote setting and spectacle of the route provided as many great memories as the actual climbing itself. Some of my best climbing has been in Hemsedal this winter so this was the perfect way to wrap-up the season. Also perfect final preparations for the Alps next week.