Dry Tooling at Heggedal

The previous weekend had been a strong indicator that winter training should begin in earnest. I had managed just one rock route in two days due to wet rock. Ideally my winter preparation should have begun sooner but the fantastic autumn rock climbing conditions around Oslo and Drammen had prolonged my motivation for climbing in rock shoes.

Dry tooling hasn't really caught on in Norway and there is very little development. Heggedal looked the obvious place to start though. The local Drammen guidebook described it as a collection of ice and mixed crags but the simple topos suggested a handful of bolted routes might be possible without ice formation. I made further investigation with Anna and Stig.

We first visited a crag called Mullaveggen but the bolted routes here were under perpetual shower. How much this related to the overnight rain I don't know, however the cracked rock appeared otherwise ideal.

We moved on to another area called Buldreveggen. After a little searching along the base if the cliff we found the short wall containing three routes. They were vertical to slightly leaning, only about 6m high, but at least looked suitable to hang on axes. And dry.

We started with the awkward wide crack called Burka express, the easiest route on offer and graded M5. My onsight attempt proved an abysmal affair. Maybe futile in light of the amount of fallen leaves and dense moss that decked the upper half of the route. Much gardening amidst popping axes and skating crampons. Without lower-off bolts I topped-out onto soft forest slopes and delicately padded my way up the nearest tree.

With the route now cleared of vegetation we each practised it on top-rope. Quickly the moves linked together and after a couple of practise runs I cleaned it on lead. Some difficult footwork for M5 but I suspect the grade assumes presence of ice.

Anna on Burka express
(Photo by Stig Jarnes)

Burka express on lead
(Photo by Stig Jarnes)

The opening route had naturally raised my guard and so the neighbouring M7, called Haken, I tried on top-rope from the outset. It felt in fact only a fraction harder but more pleasant. Strong hooks, interesting reachy moves, and a balancy layback off a torqued axe shaft towards the top. Topping-out without lower-off bolts felt an almost impossible affair with little purchase from the smooth final rock or forest bed. The lead attempt would need to wait until next visit though.

Pleasant footwork on Haken
(Photo by Stig Jarnes)

Midway up Haken
(Photo by Stig Jarnes)

That was all we had time for but the place certainly warranted a return as the short routes contained a fair number of moves of sustained difficulty for their height. "Grades" and "lower-offs" were probably the keywords to take away. Bringing some hardware to knock together a temporary lower-off seems a sensible approach and grades need to be taken with a pinch of salt.


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