Showing posts from December, 2016

Øvredalsbratta (WI4)

It was around +7 degrees in the valley and +1 degree on the summits the previous day so Anna and I knew we needed to go as high as possible. We also knew from before Christmas that the valley ice was already in poor shape. With easterly winds forecast up to around 17m/s with possible snow flurries we expected the weather to feel Scottish. No point in dodging such weather given we planned to visit Scotland in just over a month. Øvredalen seemed the obvious choice due to the high elevation and hopefully some degree of shelter. On a very optimistic note, with the following day in mind, a late start would also allow us to check the minute potential for any mixed conditions developing.

The rock on Skogshorn looked totally dry from the toll road with only the very tops of sheltered aspects showing any genuine sign of winter. At least there was no need for a pre-dawn start the following day on New Year's Day. The toll road was equally dry and we were able to easily park in the pasture a…


Our day was as much about the climbing as it was about getting to the climbing. Morning plans were sabotaged by our car. The plan had been to drive to Birifeltet to break the journey home but after less than half an hour things started to go wrong.
Firstly a slushing noise coming from the back left wheel that sounded like rubbing snow, except it wasn't going away. Peering under the back of the car we noticed a loose piece of rusted metal on the inside of the wheel frame. We took the wheel off and removed it. Fortunately there looked to be nothing structurally wrong with the wheel so we continued on our way.

At least we would have done, were if not for a flat battery due to leaving the headlights on. We had no jump leads in the car and there was little sign of traffic. For the first half hour the only two cars that past us was the same car travelling in opposite directions, without jump leads. We gave it a little longer and then bit the bullet to call the breakdown company. Of cou…

Helvete, Espedalen

Espedalen proved to be a mixed bag with conditions. The longer routes in the area had been the main draw for me, however Sprenabekken was thin and full of holes, and the middle section of was running with water. Earl Grey was totally void of ice in its middle section. Skoroa looked the general right shape to be in condition but it was impossible to properly confirm whether this was actually the case due to the greater distance from the road. Given the poor condition of Sprenabekken and Earl Grey, a long walk-in for a closer look at Skoroa didn't really appeal.

The real surprise of the trip though was the half kilometre long gorge at Helvete, which was packed with ice along both its sides, creating a very atmospheric setting. At one point the gorge walls closed and became more bowl shaped, approaching the shape of a slot canyon.

The online guide that we were using did not describe routes individually, so after a little exploration we just picked lines based on aesthetics and challe…

Dammen, Valdres

I bought an ice cream the previous day as a silent protest towards the latest bout of warm weather. Hemsedal was looking in spring condition with little snow in valley. Even the ski pistes were developing green patches. It was time to leave. If we had brought our rock shoes with us then I think would have managed a rock route on Skogshorn or Skurvefjell no problem. 
Our plan was to relocate to Espedalen, where over last month the warm spells looked to have been more moderate, although the latest one looked have been just as bad. The day's strategy was to drive in that direction until something wintry presented on route. Then hopefully we would get some climbing done, although we anticipated needing to lower the levels of ambition. 
Hydnefossen looked in terrible shape as we left Hemsedal. Midtlinja had totally collapsed and was now running water, and routes further left were in no better shape. It was evidence of just how destructive the latest wave of warm temperatures at higher…

-4 Degrees and Raining in Golsjuvet

We were running out of climbing options around Hemsedal with yet more warm weather on the way. Temperatures were forecast to climb into the positive numbers today, particularly at altitude, with +9 degrees expected on Skogshorn's summit. There looked to be a big temperature inversion on the way and therefore it looked best to go low and sheltered in order to find the trapped cold air. 
Golsjuvet looked the obvious option but obvious option would inevitably by the busy option. Since it looked like Hemsedal centre would stay below freezing until around 1pm we optimistically stopped by Rjukandefoss first on the off chance there were leading conditions. The ice in the base was unfortunately wafer thin so we turned south and headed to Golsjuvet. 

It was -4 degrees and raining by the time we arrived at Golsjuvet. A pretty grim combination. Evidently the warm temperatures had already moved in at higher altitudes. Given the warm forecast for the following days we were keen to take advant…

Undocumented Hemsedal Ice

The valley ice around Hemsedal was in terrible condition. In Grøndalen the start of the second pitch of Vøllokula had partially melted away, the easier right hand side to Murekløve looked too thin to climb, the Snusveggen routes had looked good a couple of weeks ago, however were now also too thin. Nystølfossen had dramatically shrunk also. With other routes in Grøndalen it was a similar story. Ice close to Hemsedal centre looked no better. Kyrkjebønsstølsfossen and Grøtenutbekken looked too damaged to climb and Grøtesigene looked partially melted and shrunken. Maybe Haugsfossen and Flagetfossen would be ok but we were less inclined to further investigate routes that we had previously climbed. The faces on Skogshorn and Skurvefjell also clearly had no winter conditions after weeks of dry weather and warm weather bouts.

Short of options we decided to check out an ice line that I had seen a few weeks ago besides the toll road leading to the Øvre Lauvdøla / Botnajuvet area. It had alread…

Skyrvedalen, Hemsedal

Four days of warm weather earlier in week had lowered our expectations as to what conditions we would find. There had been at least as many cold weather days since, although conditions remained very dry.
I was interested to check out Skyrvedalen as I got the impression very few people visited the valley. There looked to be selection of moderate routes with which to hedge our bets, a couple of which we could maybe we link up. The limited snow cover would hopefully make the approach easy. Hopefully the high elevation would yield some conditions otherwise at least provide an indicator to the alpine conditions on the far side of the valley.
We were greeted to beautiful sunrise and fine views during the walk-in. The approach followed a 3.5 kilometre track that was easy underfoot due to the limited snow cover. With a 4x4 and chains no doubt we could have driven the whole way, alas not with our VW Passat estate.

Not much ice was present in Skyrvedalen unfortunately. The ice on Skyrvedalsbek…

Hyllebekken (WI3), Valdres

It was +4.5 degrees in Hemsedal centre Sunday morning. Even high up the forecast looked warm. According to it was colder in Oslo centre than at Kongsvoll, although there didn't look to be a temperature inversion at play in Hemsedal itself. It seemed a good day to drop the level of difficulty and be conservative with objectives. The forecast indicated it was colder in the valleys further east and I had been keen to climb in Valdres for a while. Fagernes was supposedly -1 degrees and the WI3 icefall called Hyllebekken seemed a good bet, given its large volume of ice and consistent gradient that would make it more resistant to warm temperatures. The broad scale would also mean that Anna and myself could share the route with Espen and Emmi, who were sharing our hut, without knocking ice on top of one another.
It was 0 degrees as we skirted Gol, then +2 degrees over Golsfjellet. By the time we had reached Fagernes it was -2 degrees and the plan looked to be paying off.

We head…