Thursday, 8 March 2012

Skredbekken's Revenge

Guess what? Another failure.  What a surprise.  But this time it was an honourable failure I think.

We awoke at 1am because we are so hardcore, and slow, very slow.  This meant we were at the foot of our 700m WI5/6 objective, Skredbekken, at 4am.  The route involved some easy (WI2/3) climbing for three pitches, then a long snow slope and then finally onto the meat of the route - another six pitches of steep ice.

We simul-climbed the first part - James leading, placing runners and me following, removing them - moving at the same time enables you to cover lots of ground quickly but it also means it's pretty important not to fall off.  We didn't.  I however did develop a desperate urge for a crap.

A room with a view (yes, I am doing what you think I am, needs must)

Then the route got more interesting, a full 90m of WI4 without any opportunity to rest (ie very uncomfy belay) led to the base of the really steep section.  This began with some really funky and large cauliflowering of the ice - big bulbous formations that are created by drips and splashes.  I navigated my way through these, again another educational experience - I have climbed on routes with these before, but never to this size (think elephant heads).

We got to behind the top pillar

I finally reached the 15m free standing pillar.  It was here that the mighty Skredbekken took his revenge on me for turding on him earlier in the day.  I placed a screw and moved out to the front of it, wondering if I should start up it - once only a few moves up it, you'd be hard pressed to return. The pillar was approx 2m wide by 1m deep, the front of it was kind of fluted, like maybe it had had water running down it, melting it.  It was very glassy and see-through and 'boomed' when struck with an axe.  The top section was also overhanging where maybe wind or splashes had sculpted an incut section.  Now, any of these features on their own and I probably would have given it a go, but hollow glassy ice combined with long, steep and overhanging meant only one thing - run away.  So there began the epic descent of eight abseils.

So frustrating that the pillar wasn't in better nick - the photos we have seen show the whole route being much fatter.  But it was still a great day.  And a long one - another 14.5hr day, seems to be standard issue in these parts.

Now the debate begins over whether this all warrants a rest day tomorrow.

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