Showing posts from January, 2017

A 'Rest' Weekend... In Valdres

28th-29th January
[Edit] Ok climb with Stig but nothing too hard or long

That was my calendar entry for the immediate weekend. The following weekend I would hopefully be off to Scotland for a week of climbing and so wanted to be fresh for that. Some easy climbing wouldn't do any harm though I thought, provided not too much travel or days too long. Maybe a good opportunity to explore somewhere new.

We headed to Bagn, where there looked to be a number of moderate multipitch options. In particular, the routes south of Bagn sounded interesting, although I had dismissed the possibility of climbing at Stavadalen as knew the south facing routes would be in a terrible state. They had been in a terribly skeletal shape when I had recce'd them a month prior.

We headed to Dammen area on Saturday, which I knew to be a reliable area from a previous visit just before Christmas. In particular a WI3 called

Gul Foss

looked worth the return visit. As the name suggested the ice w…


Rob was due fly home in the evening, however we had until around 2pm to climb. Hunderfossensøyla looked a good bet as the routes were short but there were enough of them to keep us occupied. Also nothing too hard as we were both feeling a little tired.
The approach to the top of the cliff took less than ten minutes. We needed to abseil into the routes, which lay along the side of a wide riverbed, but with the easiest route being WI3+ we didn't expect any dramas in trying to escape. The main two lines at the ice crag were the left and right hand variants. The right one was steeper, with the ice stopping a good way below the top of the cliff, and we had no rock gear, so it seemed sensible to start with this. The plan being to climb to the top of the ice and then abseil from a couple of ice screws, which we would later retrieve on abseil.

I found the route quite pumpy because the knobbly ice formations strongly encouraged me to use the features for my crampon points, which were quit…

Adventure Part 2: OL-traversen

At first I misread the name to be Øl-traversen ('The Beer Traverse'), which was one of the things that first attracted me to the route. OL-traversen ('The Olympic Traverse') is still an excellent route name and presumably in connection with the Olympic ski slopes at Kvitfjell directly opposite.

I really like traverses! Partly because of the level of exposure relative to the grade, and also because of the head games involved as a result of traversing sideways from gear. The hand drawn topo and notes for the traverse was out of format with the rest of the guide, which suggested not many repeats. The route as a whole looked an adventure, which naturally attracted me to it. 
After a long outing at Sørstulen the previous day, an easy approach for this outing was most welcome. The hillside looked fairly dry from the road but the ice in the upper half looked passable, although a lot thinner than in the guide. There were a few variations in the upper half so hopefully one of …

Adventure Part 1: Sørstulen

For me I'm nearly always aiming for a roughly linear relationship between cost and distance traveled versus the amount and quality of climbing done. When I used to drive from London to the Scottish Highlands and back in a weekend the eighteen hour round-trip naturally meant we had to go as 'big' as our sleep deprived bodies and conditions would allow. I've only ever got on a long haul flight for high alpinism and on the flip side I travel a maximum of about one hour to go bouldering. Consequently there are no plans to visit Hampi in India. With Rob visiting from the UK for a long weekend the plan was of course at the relatively 'big' end of the scale rather than roadside ice cragging. Options were limited though due to many areas experiencing warm weather in the days leading up to the weekend. The general lack of snow and thin conditions further limited options.

Plan A had been Jukulkula but with a plus degree forecast from Wednesday into the weekend, together…

Espedalsrenna (WI4/M4), Espedalen

Plan A had been an attractive two pitch WI4 called Skoroa, which was fairly high on the hillside, however from the road it looked worryingly steep for the grade and reminiscent of Grøtenutbekken's crux pitch in the upper half. Matias and I didn't bother to march up the hill to check whether it was within our abilities. Espedalsrenna was the natural substitute. It was only a single pitch but it got two ice creams (the equipment of stars) in the guide, plus I do like a good gully. If the climbing was over too quickly then we could always go to Helvete afterwards.

We very carefully parked the car so as not to get it stuck in the snow as had happened yesterday. We blocked the drive to a hytte in the process but clearly nobody was visiting for the weekend.

We messed up the approach by following by tracks into the trees just north of the parking area. The tracks brought us to beneath the larger ice route of Sprenabekken again, which then meant a moderate traverse along the hillside…

Sprenabekken, Espedalen

I had visited Espedalen just before Christmas but the multipitch routes were in terrible condition following a number of warm weather bouts and inverted temperatures. Part of the second pitch of Sprenabekken in particular was clearly running with water from the roadside. On that occasion we had settled for a cragging day at Helvete. There looked to be some excellent routes to return for though once conditions improved, so I placed it on the 'to do' list for January. With generally colder, more stable temperatures since the New Year a return visit seemed in order.

It was my partner Matias's second day on ice this season due to university work taking up much of his free time. Sprenabekken seemed well suited as only the second pitch of three involved any real difficulties, and with a fairly short approach we would hopefully have it boxed off in good time.

Fresh snow had fallen on Tuesday and Wednesday but the approach was fairly easy despite a good volume of fresh powder. We …