Thursday, 22 December 2016

Birifeltet

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.

We found this behind the wheel
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 course as soon as we did that a car stopped soon after.

By the time we reached Birifeltet there was only a couple of hours of daylight remaining. It was another cool looking gorge, although with less ice and atmosphere compared to Helvete. There was a lot of ice with no obvious lines but at the left of the crag we found a good looking short line directly beneath some lower-off bolts.

Birifeltet
It was Anna's turn to lead what was a fairly hard pitch around 4/4+. Firstly a steep wall and then a steep narrow pillar. The pillar in particular was quite technical due to its narrow size and weak ice either side, although the sketchiest part was mounting the shelf between the bolts and where the ice stopped abruptly. I had the 'joy' of reaching the bolts after Anna had abseiled from a couple of screws at the very top of the ice. It was best described as gravelly choss, which was covered in a layer of frost but seemed barely frozen. It reminded me instantly of chalk when at its most chossiest. I dug my points in as best I could then tried to move my crampons up the ice a little higher. To make things worse the thinning ice at the very top of the route had a tendency to fracture and chip away. A little high I now found a protruding block amongst the choss that seemed to not be loose and so with all four points trying to pull evenly as possible I rocked over the top of the route onto the shelf and threaded the bolts.

Anna leading the steep lower wall
Climbing the pillar
We climbed the line once more each on toprope, just to the top of the ice, for a bit more of a workout before pulling the ropes down and driving home. 

We did more short routes than I would have ideally liked over the previous week but that was dictated by the conditions. I think we did a good job overall to keep climbing in new places despite the mid-trip warm spell. At least we maintained a good level of difficulty when limited to single pitch, which wasn't a bad thing early season. Hopefully there will be some stable temperatures from this point forward to allow for some longer routes to be climbed.

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