Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Norway Part 2

          After a week of fun, conditions got pretty dank for ice climbing so we visited some local villages and did some ski touring.

Norwegian Coastal culture has a flair all it's own.  The names and locations of the communities are right out of a Tolkien fable.

Secretly we all wished for one of these Sparks

      The skiing conditions varied from boilerplate to breakable and occasional stretches of cornshussing.   On the upside, the vistas were not bad and treeline is reached after about fifteen minutes of skinning.

Segla - The Sail - a BASE jumper's wet dream

Eventually, we got back to the business at hand..
  "Fantasia" in the center and "Crazy Maze" at right. We took the left line.

          Jesse and I tried our luck on the "Scotish wall" of Breidtinden, Senja's highest peak - a real Napolean at just 1000m in elevation.  Ines Papert and Thomas Senf had opened "Crazy Maze" and Sjur Nesheim and partner had put up "Fantasia" using a 150m rope.  Sjur explained this tactic was crucial because there is a general lack of protection and belays are hard to find at regular intervals.

        We settled on a route at the left side and blasted up amazing nevé and mixed climbing for seven pitches (two of those involved extensive simul climbing for reasons noted above) totalling 450m. 
The difficulties were not too severe M6+ AI 4+ but the thin, runnout ice and rock overlaps were consistently spicy.
Jesse about to insert the first of two pieces he found on this 60m pitch

A tight belay for the first of several changing corners P.6
The Ice Princess M6+ AI 4+ R on Breidtinden
Obligatory summit ridge fist pump.

       We descended off the back to avoid a regrettable amount of abseiling and hiked over two passes to regain the approach slopes and the car just about 13 hours after leaving it.

      This trip was a life highlight for me and we only really just caught a glimpse of a small corner of this incredible country.  Thanks to an all time crew for making this come together and keeping morale high.

The Kit

Here are a few clutch pieces I brought on my recent trip to Norway.

The Alpha Comp system is a perfect solution for wet snowy mixed alpine climbing.  Gore-Tex front and stretch back strikes the optimum balance between moisture protection and maneuverability.
Alpha Comp Pant
 Manly, muscular thighs are not a problem with these beauties on.  They combine freedom of movement with a snugness that remains popular in Europe and is catching on like wildfire in the New World.
Jesse - snugness and flow together at last.

The Alpha Comp Jacket is a lightweight piece that breathes really well and repels wind after a dropping the hammer up the summit slopes.

Summit of Hesten
The stretch fabric is tough for those times when the climbing gets scrappy

Norway Part 1

         After spending a decade of my life in the crucible of frozen waterfall justice: the Canadian Rockies, climbing ice anywhere else has never held much appeal.   Though I'd long seen images of giant Fossens in Norway the thought of visiting there for winter climbing never inked it's way on to my wishlist.  In October, Jon Walsh and Jesse Huey piqued my interest in a mission to Senja Island, not quite your standard Waterfall ice destination but rather, a velouté of Coastal, Alpine and Arctic terrain.  Added to the crew would be all around under cover bringer Mike Pennings and lensmaster Paul Bride.
The crew

       We arrived in Oslo late January and bumped to the military outpost of Bardufoss in the northern reaches of Norway.  From there, a three hour rally on snowy roads brought us to Hamn i Senja our base for the following two weeks.  We got right into it and over the next week, managed to get into some good trouble in this enchanted land of Trolls and Fjords.

          While Jesse and Jonny jumped right on to the "Terminator wall of Senja" Finnmannen, climbing a grade 6 monster and attempting Ines Papert's still unrepeated M9+ masterpiece, Mike and I warmed up with some "mini-putt" on a route reminiscent of Polar Circus.

Mike on the Polar Circus of Senja

On the summi slopes
Mike would later pump and drop a hot lap on the compelling couloir at left.  
 Fjord villages: far from uncharming
Ditto for the locals

Reformed BC resident Charlie Long showed up for some fun
Charlie has not regretted expatriation 
During a break on a recon mish.   Norway is ok