Monday, 20 February 2017

I am in Norway!

My longtime absence from the blogosphere shall be broken by the exciting news that I am in Norway, ice climbing! Or at least trying to.

This is day five here and it has been a mixed old bag.  Firstly, I am well out of practice and noticing having not climbed for three years.  Conditions are poor for a normal year, but this is the arctic, so the closer you look the more you see, and realise it is not so bad at all.  Why anyone goes to Rjukan is beyond me.

Anyway, on day one we drove.  All day.  Including north, to the fabled ice-el-dorado of Reisendalen.  Maybe we missed something, but it didn't seem so great to us.  The next day we decided to go back to Hattavarri, where we did our one and only first ascent on our first trip here, six years ago.  It had been warm so going high seemed sensible.  After a two hour walk-in, avalanche paranoia got the better of us and we turned around within site of the climbs (which were formed well).  Actually, it wasn't paranoia and I think we judged things well.  I have made a pact with myself, only ever to be pleased if I turn around due to snow conditions.

Windslab!  Run away!
The next day we walked into a canyon in Skibotndalen (which we thought was quite big at the time).  There were a few shortish routes to go at and we did, at a guess, a WI3 and WI4 - which felt much harder than it should.

WI3 left, WI4 right.  Believe it or not, 60m!
On day four we decided to find the legendary Orndalen canyon, the biggest canyon in northern Europe.  It is truly enormous - the walls must be 500m high.  There a several epic routes in there, but the main prize had, erm, fallen down.  I was secretly quite glad as it looked nails, and we didn't have the time anyway.  I started to do the bottom pitch as the most out-there bit of 'practice' imaginable, but my hands had frozen and the wind had picked up and was dumping snow into the gulley.  So we ran away once more.

Some more pics of the canyon are below - we'll be going back once we've got our eye in a bit more.

The narrowest point

Scale is meaningless!

Today, deciding we just needed some mileage we went to a roadside spot of ice - like, literally, I got sprayed by the gritting lorry.  We did six or so pitches, all apart from the first on top rope.  Stress-free climbing in a not so great setting.

Oh, and comment of the trip so far comes from the Duty Free shop lady when we asked what Johnnie Walker Double Black was (ie what was the double).  She replied "Well, its double.  Whatever the black is, that is double".  At this point James realised he had left his phone with airport security (for safe keeping, innit) so we had to dash off before she could be questioned any more.

To be continued...

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