Friday, 16 December 2016

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.

Sunrise over Veslehorn/Storehorn
Early morning fog over Skurvefjell and Skogshorn
Close to the head of Skyrvedalen

Not much ice was present in Skyrvedalen unfortunately. The ice on Skyrvedalsbekken was too wet and fissured to contemplate, and the route called Lands End was absent. There were smatterings of ice elsewhere but nothing substantial. 

Skyrvedalsbekken (WI3). Too wet and fissured.

The WI4 called Veis End was at least present, although the easy lower half had partially melted away. In effect the route was a couple of isolated short easy steps of ice between dry ground followed by maybe 30m of more sustained WI4 climbing. Anna was feeling unusually weak and nauseous but wanted to try and lead the pitch regardless. Things started well but soon she needed some rests. The climbing was actually very good whilst it lasted, although a little underwhelming as an overall experience by Hemsedal standards.

Veis End (WI4). Note the bare patch.
Anna leading the main pitch of Veis End (WI4)

Far more spectacular were the views across the main valley. Throughout the day a thick carpet of cloud clung the base of the valley, providing some breathtaking views towards Skogshorn and Skurvefjell. Their south faces now looked totally bare. Visiting Skyrvedalen had certainly confirmed that there would be no foreseeable mixed climbing conditions in the area, based on the current forecast, which first looked to be getting warmer before things cooled down again.

Sunset over Skurvefjell and Skogshorn

Going high evidently wasn't the answer, which wasn't a big surprise given the freezing levels had been way above the summits the previous week. The routes at Skyrvedalen didn't look to have the strongest flow of water and therefore maybe not the most resistant. It was a good information gathering day nonetheless and a new corner of Hemsedal, plus it was of course good to get a route ticked. It was day 1 of 7 of our pre-Christmas ice climbing trip so not a bad marker to lay down all things considering. 

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