Monday, 5 March 2012

Henrikkafossen snags

We are now on the mainland, at the end of the Lavangen fjord.  The nearest valley is Spansdalen, which we drove through on our way here yesterday.  It has been called 'valley of ice'.  It is. Game on.

Today we climbed Henrikkafossen, a pretty long WI4/5, that is reputed to be the most famous climb in the area - we can see it from our cabin and it's pretty darn large.

Bottom to first snow ledges is a full 60m

This was the first day so far on this trip where is has been properly chilly - the car read -11 degrees this morning.  And the ice confirmed it, shattering a lump off at me and hitting me straight in the mouth.  A good start.  I chose the steepest line for the first pitch, certainly highish WI4, and whilst not hard, the cold ice took some relearning.  Throughout the whole route there has obviously been some recent melting and refreezing with some rotten ice underneath a skin of seemingly good ice.  The ice must have been under a lot of tension in places to, due to recent temperature fluctuations, as the screws often felt like they had hit rock, for it to be just really hard ice beneath the surface.

As usual, bigger than it looked

On the third pitch I put my foot through a bit of ice acting as a dam, unleashing a few gallons of water on James.  How we laughed.

The last of the six pitches, again, wasn't hard but took a lot of digging to find decent ice, teetering up on crumbling crud hoping it didn't cave in.  So, although not technically difficult it was a good learning experience on weird ice.

We then began our decent.  After the first ab, we pulled the ropes only for them to get stuck.  We heaved and we hoed, but to know avail.  I had to reclimb the pitch (and not even on the same line, so more digging was required).  Its amazing how unpleasant ice climbing can be when you aren't in the mood.  The rope had caught on the plastic tag that wraps the ends, I think just a random act of entanglement.  I ab'd down, cleaning the pitch - it was now dark. 

We eventually got back to the car after 13 hours.  13 bloody hours!  Ridiculous.

Some locals even came out to offer us coffee, saying we climbed it very nicely.  The lad, who must have been approaching his teenage years as he had overdone the Lynx Africa (the standard stench of all yoofs), was particularly impressed.  Perhaps he had noticed I climbed it so nicely that I did the last pitch twice.  Alas, we had to high-tail it to the shop so James could buy some weird excuse for a sausage to have with our go-to lazy meal of pesto pasta.

We also saw a great display of the Northern Lights tonight (about time!). We have seen them for the last couple of evenings, but this is the first time they have been bright enough to impress me.  But still, would I come all the way here to see them? I think not, nice though they are.

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