Showing posts from 2017

Den republikanske terroristen (n5+), Skogshorn

Our first attempt to climb Den republikanske terroristen didn't get further than the top of the second pitch. There was far too much wind together with strong gusts, which only increased with height. The wind was coming from a WSW Direction from which there was little shelter on our south face. Despite the twenty degree temperature, and adders basking on the slopes beneath Skogshorn, I still needed three layers in order to keep warm.

I led the first pitch, which weaved around initially before popping out on easy angled broken slabs. Normally I would scamper easily up this sort of slabby terrain, primarily using my feet with my hands merely an accessory, however the high winds caused me to over-grip and climb in a slower, static fashion. Often I needed to wait for the winds to drop before making the simplest of moves.

I was fully expecting Anna to suggest that we bail at the top of the first pitch and I was more resigned to agree. Smaller climbers definitely have a bigger say in …

The Heroes Bumblers of Telemark

Winter conditions looked to be holding in Rjukan for another weekend and I was keen to capitalise. Anna's psych for more ice this season I sensed was starting to wane, but a combination of cross-country skiing and climbing I hoped would reinvigorate her. Gaustatoppen looked still to be well below freezing and, given this was the scene of my final act in December 2015 before I was struck down with long-term fatigue, it seemed fitting to make a return. After missing out on the whole of the preceding winter I was keen to drag this one out as long as I could manage.

I should quickly point out that I'm a pretty poor skier. This wasn't helped by me forgetting to pack my skins, partly because everything that I had done prior to this was in groomed tracks. At least I was able to purchase some wax at the Gaustablikk resort without too much delay. The approach was far from the idyllic skiing that I had envisaged. Often the way was too narrow to herring bone, meaning my 210cm skis q…

Tøftfossen (WI4), Drivdalen

Despite seven days climbing in Oppdal I still hadn't climbed the classic Tøftfossen. I had planned to climb it with Anna two years ago but the cornice at the top of the route had looked massive from the valley and so we aborted a short way into the approach. On this occasion the problematic cornice was reportedly passable and with a perfect forecast the day looked ideally suited to something a little more alpine in character. Plus with Rick having travelled all the way from the UK we needed to justify the journey time with a big classic.

The only thing not ideally suited was the avalanche forecast. Or at least the avalanche forecast that I was reading. Troms warned of windslab but this was of course is not the correct fylke for Oppdal. Fortunately rational thinking trumped my poor geography and thus we went to take a closer look. After all everything in the recent weather pattern suggested snow consolidation. No wind, no snow, freeze/thaw temperatures, and plenty of sunshine. It w…

Slate Quarry Climbing... Norwegian Style

With temperatures warming up it seemed an ideal time to make my first trip to Drivdalen this season, where the high elevation would hopefully yield some good late season conditions. My friend Rick was visiting from the UK for the weekend. We have a history of driving from London to the Scottish Highlands and back in a weekend so Oslo to Oppdal would hopefully be easy by comparison.

Saturday's plan was the slate quarries at Klevan, which had ice for the first time since I had moved to Norway nearly three years ago. A quick exploration of the place revealed some eye-catching lines, some of which were a blend of ice and mixed. Some were not sufficiently formed but there were plenty of routes that were.

Rick was only starting to get back into climbing after years of ultra-marathon running so the harder lines could wait for another day. Despite being primarily a single pitch crag it didn't feel like 'cragging' as most of the routes were a full rope length and with plenty o…

Rjukan Part 2: Verdens Ende (WI5)

The only WI5 that I had yet to climb in Upper Gorge was Verdens Ende, so this was Plan A for Sunday. Plan B was something nearby that was free of climbers.

We opted to abseil part way into the western end of the gorge due to the unpleasant combination of powder snow concealing sporadic sections of hard ice on the descent. The last time that I had descended this way was following the fatal accident on Lipton in 2015 and it was difficult not think back to that terrible day. I had no interest in returning to the rocks beneath the climb where we had made futile attempts to save the Italian climber's life.

This end of the gorge felt a world apart from the climbing busyness at the Vermork end with not a footprint to be seen. Rjukanfossen looked fat but Lipton was almost entirely absent of ice. Verdens Ende had seen better days with the ice on the first pitch looking eroded and hollowed out in the middle section. The route looked as though it had suffered some major thaws without the ri…

Rjukan Part 1: Vermork Bridge

With unstable temperatures throughout Norway this winter I've experienced a lot of difficult ice conditions. If I had measured the number of axe swings verses the number of metres climbed then I am sure this season would be a record number. The rapid warming and cooling has led to some very brittle ice conditions and a lot of chopping to gain good sticks. In a way, visiting Rjukan during the latter part of winter felt like payback for some of what has gone before.

I've mixed feelings about ice climbing in Rjukan. The short driving time, easy approaches, and the unique character and history definite pluses. I prefer my winter climbing to have a relatively wild, adventurous feel to it though and with such a high volume of climbers visiting Rjukan this can sometimes be hard to find. Particularly during milder seasons when fewer routes are in nick and everybody congregates in the same areas. I've climbed some exceptionally stepped-out ice at times, although I've largely m…

Storesvullen (WI5), Svarteberget

Storesvullen had looked too good not to return to the day after we had climbed the neighbouring Lillesvullen. It looked close to my limits but evidently in good condition and definitely worth a try. Particularly given the approach wasn't too long. If Anna and I were overly intimidated once beneath the route then we could always run away to the single pitch ice/mixed crags of Rjukandefoss or Golsjuvet and still have plenty of time for climbing. The first pitch looked as though it would be the crux so it would be immediately obvious as to how hard the climb would be.

The approach, despite not being that long, wasn't exactly a walk in the park as there was a lot of snow and many boulders to clamber over. Once at close quarters though the first pitch actually didn't look too bad. The lower quarter was an easy angle and the hard climbing looked to be over once about 70% up the pitch. In essence the difficult climbing looked to only last about 12 metres. What's more the ice…