Showing posts from 2019

Hydalsfossen: The Long March

Plan A had been the general area of Vang, which we hoped would offer enough options and flexibility, but in reality nothing was ready so early in the season. Luckily Jacob had driven down from Sogndal early on the Friday, so we had plenty of time to switch plans. 
Hemsedal was the obvious replacement, although there was no obvious new plan beyond that. There had been a recent dump of snow, which made the likes of Skogshorn possibly too slow going. Jacob is also Mr Skogshorn and has climbed most of the well-known routes. We knew that Grøtenutbekken was in steep, good condition currently but we also knew that a friend planned to a second attempt in successive days, and so we gave the route a miss on that basis. The loose plan instead was to drive through Grøndalen after dawn to inspect conditions but likely continue up the valley and try Hydalsfossen. This meant a slightly later start than ideal, given the limited daylight hours. 
As largely expected, Grøndalen didn't look appealin…

Sunset Boulevard (VI+), Hægefjell

Telemark's human population was possibly outnumbered by the resident insect population on Hægefjell's campsite on Saturday morning, but it was all the more reason for Kristian and myself to pack our things and go as swiftly as possible. At least the insects leave you alone when the climbing begins on Hægefjell, which doesn't happen in Scotland.
Our chosen route was Sunset Boulevard. It's 12 pitches, 500m in length, and gets two stars in the Gå Telemark guide, and so seemed the next logical route to try, having climbed Hægar on the previous visit. I think this route is maybe off a lot of people's radar due to a free online guide omitting it. It lies a little to the right of the better known classic Tyrion. Tyrion has a distinctive hard n7 bolted crux, which is considerably harder than the rest of the route, whereas Sunset Boulevard is much more uniform in difficulty, with three UIAA VI+ pitches to contend with.

My form was partly a mystery after dislocating my finge…

Blomkålsfossen (WI5) and Klokkhovdfossen (WI4), Rjukan Centre

With winter back from the dead for an encore I paid one more visit to Rjukan for what would certainly be the final, final weekend of ice climbing for the season. Above all else because I was flying to the Alps the following weekend.

I've climbed none of the big A-list objectives that I had chalked up in my head at the start of the season, although I can take consolation that nobody else has managed to due to poor conditions. The season can be summarised by four weeks of solid cold temperatures in the middle of the season, with some very patchy conditions either side. On the plus side I've found some excellent, opportunistic, less-travelled routes that were well off my radar prior., and sometimes these sorts of routes can be more rewarding due to the lack of pre-expectations or beta.

I had seen Blomkålsfossen from the road previously and it had looked an intimidating prospect. Its appearance resembled a smaller Juvsøyla, however it was hard to properly gauge conditions due to …

Crampoff (WI4, 200m), Svenkerud

Eventyrland is a fairly well-known route at Svenkerud, however further right there are a number of ice lines that have seen a lot less attention from climbers. Naturally there is very little information about them. Nikolay had already climbed the ice line immediately right of Eventyrland, referred to as 'Svenkerudisen Venstre' by ourselves, but there remained a right-hand variant still to try, and also a completely independent line even further right. The latter had greater appeal for me due to it being a fully independent line. These ice routes in question follow an easy angle in the lower parts but are steeper in the upper parts. In the case of the far right hand route there was no clear visible way to transition between these two sections, however I was fairly confident that a way would present when at closer quarters. The uncertainties over route-finding actually added interest for me, rather than raised concern. 

In light of Svenkerudisen Venstre having a mixed start a co…

No Disappointments on Skuffelsen (WI5)

I haven't been the biggest fan of Rjukan in recent years as I prefer less frequented places where the ice is free from hooks or steps. That often isn't what Rjukan does best, and in leaner times it has been the polar opposite due to limited options. In better years there can be a huge volume of climbs, although I've generally been unlucky with injuries and illness on such occasions. 
There's actually a fair number of three star routes in the Rjukan guidebooks that have no entries in the UKC logbook. A lot of these routes have a relatively moderate approach of one hour or less, however by Rjukan standards that isn't very convenient. They are total non-classics that probably see very few, or even no ascents each year. The bucket list routes take less effort to reach and often have a regular stream of conditions beta, which has a perpetual effect of further increasing their popularity. I've climbed most of the standard bucket list now, so I figure it's time to…

Jukulkula (WI4, 280m)

After a late, albeit eventually good, start to the season the warm weather over Christmas and New Year pretty much killed off the possibilities of climbing some of the south facing objectives that were right at the top of my to-do list during January. There were of course plenty in reserve though and one route that has always eluded me is Jukulkula, which is a regional classic. It had already seen a number of ascents this season (not least from Pete Whittaker) meaning there was near certainty that we would find the route in good climbable condition. I also had a solid partner in Gareth, who was equally happy to solo the easy lower pitches in order to improve our climbing efficiency. That of course meant a little more time in bed could be afforded.

The approach was surprisingly easy. The online guide stated an hour but we were beneath the route in what can't have been more than 40 minutes, despite there not being the easiest of snow conditions. Bare frozen ground was covered by a …