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's forecast was our last update.

Top of the second pitch - blue skies
(Photo by Anna Kennedy)

Low on the route I noticed the winds were blowing from the south instead of the expected north. Dark clouds began to gather in the vicinity. Then at the top of the third pitch, midway up the route, it began to rain. Only lightly but the slabs caught every drop.

The fourth pitch was reportedly the hardest, and so with haste I pressed on, keen to complete it before the rock became slippery. Fortunately the climbing largely followed easy steps that were less reliant on friction. The cracked rock also meant plenty of opportunity for protection, meaning I could bypass all but the best gear placements for greater efficiency.

Anna climbing the third pitch

Anna hinted we try and abseil but the absence of in-situ anchors meant the easiest way off the route was via the top. One more pitch and the climbing would become easier still.

Water was soon flowing down the slabs either side of us, forming streams that were growing in size. There was the concern that our route could become awash but for the large part the water remained deep in the cracks. I made best effort to dry my soles at first but this soon became futile. In spite of the saturated nature of the rock there remianed enough friction on its easy angle.

Climbing in the rain near the top of the route

From the top of the route I made the traverse towards the nearby route of Reven. I had climbed this back in May and so was familiar with the abseil points. Abseiling proved a very wet affair, our belay plates wringing the rope as we descended. The first couple of abseils passed without trouble, apart from the occasional slip, but for the third abseil we needed to amend plans. The next abseil involved an angled descent via an overhang, for which there was the risk of penduluming in the event of a slip. Better to traverse the ledge that we were on to another route called Gone with the Weed, from where a more direct descent was possible. It meant an extra rope length but less potential for drama. Then back to Reven for the remaining abseils.

Our teeth were both chattering by the time we reached our bags. Clothes and gear soaked through. Plans of camping and climbing the following day now forgotten. A warm home was calling us.

Top of the route

Downward skating

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