Showing posts from February, 2017

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…

Lillesvullen (WI4), Svarteberget

I'm not usually one for 'copy and paste' climbing, however when I saw the photos of the ice routes beside Ål Ski Centre on Facebook they immediately moved towards the top of my 'to do' list. There hasn't been so many areas within driving distance from Oslo with good ice conditions this winter, which has lead me to repeatedly return to the same places. Gudbrandsdalen has had some excellent ice but too much of the same thing can quickly become boring. There's numerous parts of Norway that I have never visited though, for example everything west of Gol, so naturally I was keen to fill in some blanks in both respects when I learnt about the routes at Ål.

Lillesvullen, aka Le Petit Svull (WI4) was the easier of the two prominent icefalls in the area and so it seemed the obvious place to start for Anna and me. The harder Storesvullen could wait until Sunday.

It was a relatively short approach from the ski centre car park, initially following a broad ski trail un…

Curved Ridge, Buachaille Etive Mor

With Anna still feeling unwell we decided to make the last day an easy one. It was a choice of either returning to Aonach Mor to try something of similar difficulty to yesterday, or do something longer and easier. The conditions on Aonach Mor hadn't been that inspiring to warrant a return. With blue skies expected, Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor sounded a far more enjoyable outing. Its four star rating would no doubt offer a fine day in the mountains and would of course provide broader experiences compared to simply returning to the same crag as yesterday to climb a second route.

Being a classic route, and a Saturday, the route was not surprisingly busy. Not too busy to cause major queues however. We opted to take in alpine coils and move together for most of the route in order to improve efficiency. We set 20m between us, which would provide enough rope to place runners through harder sections whilst minimising rope drag. It didn't gain us any advantage in hindsight be…

Nid Arete Direct (V,5), Aonach Mor

Two days had passed by since we had last climbed a route. On Wednesday we had driven to Applecross in the North-West Highlands in the hope of finding some winter conditions but had found little. Temperatures were set to drop towards sea level imminently but with little snow remaining from earlier in the week there was little reason to stick around. Meall Gorm was stripped. Maybe the East and West Buttresses of Beinn Eighe would have been possible but with Anna's cold becoming slightly worse rather than better the three hour approach would be too long. This was actually our first visit to the North-West Highlands so at least we got to explore a new corner of the UK in process. It's a beautiful part of the world - no doubt more beautiful had we left the roads. More beautiful than many parts of Norway in fact and with a similar sparseness. We pushed onto Fort William and civilisation that same day, which meant few more hours driving than planned. Our only souvenir being some gia…

Pot of Gold (V,6), Coire an t'Sneachda

We had taken a rest day on Monday due to the 80mph forecast and because Anna was feeling unwell. She had been suffering from a bad cold that had refused to go away for a week and a half. Luckily on Tuesday morning, against the odds, she was feeling well enough to climb, although the shorter walk-in to Coire an t'Sneachda again needed to be the sensible plan.

With the strong southerly winds appearing (in Aviemore at least) to have picked up in the afternoon of Monday we were a little concerned that the current avalanche report would be out of date by the time we entered the coire with windslab increasing. Particularly given the amount of fresh snow that had fallen whilst we were in the Northern Coires on Sunday.

The provisional plan had been Original Summer Route on Aladdin's Buttress but we didn't like the look of the descent down Aladdin's Couloir, which looked potentially loaded (but probably actually ok after seeing the later avalanche report), as did the coire ri…

The Seam (IV,5), Coire an t'Sneachda

Anna was feeling a little under the weather on Sunday so we opted for the short approach to Coire an t'Sneachda again. Friendlier weather with a lot less wind and better visibility made the walk-in much more pleasant. Better weather we expected to result in more people but we were in the coire at a decent hour.

We headed to Fiacaill Buttress, which looked a little more scoured from yesterday's NE winds, so hopefully better snow conditions. Plan A was the Seam, otherwise something nearby at a similar grade. The buttress was relatively quiet as it happened. Just one pair on Houdini and one pair on Smokestack Lighnin', and of course plenty heading up to Fiacaill Ridge.

There was some wind slab on the slopes directly beneath the route, up to about 25cm in places but localised, so no real risk. My only previous visit to Fiacaill Buttress had been on Invernookie, which shares the same start as the Seam. That had been 11 years ago and didn't help much with remembering where …