Monday, 23 January 2017

Hunderfossensøyla

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.

Rob abseiling into Hunderfossensøyla
Hunderfossensøyla from the riverbed
I found the route quite pumpy because the knobbly ice formations strongly encouraged me to use the features for my crampon points, which were quite spaced low down. Some of my footwork was more what I would expect from a mixed route. I got a few easy slots, likely from climbers the previous day, but often needed multiple axe swings to get the picks to safely stick in the brittle ice. A couple of good ledges to the right allowed some partial rests. Plus with the route being quite short I could place ice screws at will. Even with rock gear the dry tooling section at the top of the ice didn't look that appealing as the rock looked flaky and loose. Given the drytooling part is graded 'M?' I suspect not many people bother with it. Rob then led the route sport-style with my screw runners still in place. Climbing the right hand line first worked out well, as soon after it was bright lit by sunshine and quickly looked wetter as a result.

Rob leading the right hand line
Next up was the easier left hand variant, which Rob led first. Again the ice finished below the very top, although from here it was much shorter and easier to escape. Again Rob ab'ed off from the top of the ice. Brittle ice, and wet sections that quickly filled in, meant that on my lead there were surprisingly few 'free' hooks available, and so it felt like a proper lead. Climbing above the ice mainly involved pulling easily on and slinging trees, whilst trying to avoid unstable earthy ground. Then some solid axes into the frozen ground at the very top. 

Rob leading the left hand line
Some pretty awful climbing at the top of the left hand line
Elsewhere the two remaining routes looked a little fissured and unconsolidated to contemplate leading, although would have been fine on a top rope. We were now out of time anyway, and so the last chore was to retrieve the ice screws from the right hand line. Drytooling my way out on top rope still looked a tricky proposition - partly because the ice screw placements were a long way left of natural corner to escape up. Instead I abseiled back to the ground, Rob dropped my the rope ends, and I climbed up the left side again. Climbing concluded in good time.

After some worryingly warm weather forecasts in the week leading up to Rob's flight to Norway we found some really good conditions on the whole for the four days that he was here. Perfect blue skies, hard frosts, and little wind. We managed some really good climbing and certainly made the most of what was on offer I think.  

The walk-out

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