Saturday, 3 March 2012

Epic Fail

Today was supposed to be WI6 day.  We  knew about a route on Finnkona, that is supposed to be amazing, so despite the reported slog in we decided to go for it.  To be honest, I am far from convinced I can do a WI6, but I need to try - bailing or resting is always an option.

Anyways, we got up at 0330hrs and left the car at 0510.  The two hour walk-in turned out to be a three and a half hour sufferfest negotiating our way around the fjord - next time, we go by boat.  This included me getting my foot stuck down a hole for maybe five minutes.  It was constantly 'foot stuck, foot sunk, rucksack caught on something, fall over, walking pole stuck, flick snow down back, trip over, sink again'  - makes for a depressing start to the day.

A torrid time

When the climbing finally started we had a 90m approach grade 3/4 which took a while, then a snow slope to cross before tackling some mixed ground and then we should have had the final approach ice (WI4?) before the two full pitches of vertical WI6.

After the snow slope, I tried to take the mixed ground way too far left, and had to ab of a wee sapling.  I then tried what I believe to be the proper line.  Nearly an hour and a half later I reached the belay, a gibbering wreck.  I got a useless stubby screw in very low down, but then had a, maybe, 25m run out.  Next time, we take rock gear (though I have no idea where it would have gone).  The groove involved some cruddy ice and loose snow, if I could have retreated I would have - there were a few pull ups on dodgey axes while praying they didn't rip from the cruddy ice.  I guess maybe Scottish 4 or 5.  I am sure that chimney must usually be choked with ice or buried completely.  When James reached the belay he pointed out if was 1430hrs, and we were still probably two pitches from the beginning of the route proper.  So we bailed.  Epic fail.

One day...

With the abing and the hike out, we reached the car 14.5hrs after we left it.  So I think the decision to bail was the correct one. I was mashed - a combination of the stress of that pitch, the terrible approach, and not drinking anywhere near enough water.

Do not take up this sport

My psyche had weird evolution through the day too - beginning with a 'hey, may as well give it a go' moving to 'I really don't think I will get up it' to finally 'yes, I think I will' - just as we ran out of time.  I think probably due to first the demotivation of the slog and then the fear of the mixed pitch (the WI6 would NOT be that scary!).

What went wrong?  Well, sure, as usual, we could be more efficient but generally I think things just conspired against us.  The walk-in plagued by shitty snow and the approach being on horrid mixed ground at the moment.  I will be hydrating better.

This is our last day on the island of Senja, and it's hard to separate one's feelings about the place from the weather we have had.  People say it has a different feeling to it than other 'ice' destinations and they are right - its much more alpine and Scottish-like.  I reckon, if you come with good weather and a decent snowpack it would be awesome.  We have only climbed half the days during our time here, and one of them was on the mainland, so we haven't been able to make the most of it.

Tomorrow we leave for Lavangen, Sordalen and Spansdalen - and I have my eye on a few WI6s down there, and with the weather improving, here's hoping luck gets on our side.

In other news, we finally saw the Northern Lights tonight after missing them on our three week trip last year.  And the loo, thankfully, is now unblocked here at the Lodge - times were getting desperate.

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