Hyllebekken (WI3), Valdres

It was +4.5 degrees in Hemsedal centre Sunday morning. Even high up the forecast looked warm. According to Yr.no 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.

Hyllebekken

We headed for the upper part of the icefall, which seems to be what most people climb and what catches the eye from the road. Espen and Emmi climbed the left hand side of the icefall whilst Anna and me took the right side. Midway of the first pitch one of Anna's crampons snapped in two as a result of the heel bale being too slack. All credit to her that she managed to put it together and adjust the fit without resting on the rope. All about the clean onsight! 

Anna replacing her crampon midway up the first pitch

Anna continuing up the first pitch after the crampon failure 

The climbing was a relatively easy affair with two crampons attached, although Anna was feeling pretty tired from the previous day's climbing. Oddly enough I was actually feeling fresher. The ice was soft enough for my points to easily bite first time, which meant I could climb my second pitch at good speed when my turn came. There was water running beneath some parts of the ice but given the icefall's size there was no cause for alarm.

Top of the second pitch

It was 2.5 pitches to the top, with the third pitch more of an exit pitch. We chose to abseil down the true right hand side of the icefall rather than walk off, as we had left items at the base of the route. Three easy abseils from trees brought us to the starting point.

The climb had a great setting overlooking the outskirts of Fagernes. Made all the more special by a beautiful sunset as we repelled the route. 

Back at the car it was now a staggering +7 degrees, although by the time we had reached Bagn a short way south the temperature had dipped to -4 degrees. The dashboard temperature continued to fluctuate for the remainder of the journey home.

Sunset over Fagernes from midway up the route

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