He was a great friend, a mentor, a climbing partner, and truly a special person. He taught me all I know ice climbing, and beyond… We shared the rope on dozens of outings on rock&ice. I still can’t believe he’s gone…
There is a special bond that climbers and mountaineers have, so when one of us is no more, the pain and suffering are so much greater.
I’m not in a mental state right now to write anything else right now about the circumstances of what happened… Thank you Jack for doing it for us. PG will be missed. Already is.
Today, we got back to the Rottenvik area to climb the Rottenvikfossen we have found yesterday.
All 5 of us. As expected, no other climbers in area – so the whole thing was just for us.
Since we already knew the path, the walking was no problem, and in no time we found ourselves at the base of the climb.
There were few obvious lines to take for P1. Niall opted to go straight up on the left-hand side, taking Con and Aidan with him.
Paul chose a slightly more convoluted line to the right, towards the rock, hid for a moment behind the curtain on ice, and emerged back to the very steep final part (directly left of the rock). Definitely an interesting choice, but no problem for him – I promptly followed.
P1 belay was a massive chain wrapped around an even bigger boulder. Definitely a unique and nice surprise!
P2 was a couple of dozen meters walk forward – a much more amenable and less steep feature.
This time Con decided to take the leftmost line, and leave the middle to us. Paul, as Paul is picked the steepest part of it, just for fun I guess. I didn’t complain. I actually prefer steeper lines as a second.
The line Paul chose was very long, longer than the rope length, so we had to simul-climb for a couple of meters – not a big deal on terrain as easy as this. But it was obvious to me when he reached the belay tree and put me on belay.
The top out was straightforward – a tree where we built an abseil station.
The descent was a reverse of the ascent – down via tree abseil, walk to the chain and hike back to the car. Justs had to be careful not to abseil off the rope ends – as the P2 was longer than the ropes.
Despite warm temperatures (around +3C) it was a really pleasant day – we all got to hand out together on a nice climb. The area is absolutely stunning, providing a number of trails and walks – there is even one to the source of the waterfall – a lake directly west of our climb called… Rottenvikvatnet.
On the way back to our hut Paul and I decided to stop in the village for some small shopping and took the opportunity to walk towards the waterfront and look at the fjord and its crystal clear water again. It’s truly stunning.
Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be the same (warm and wet), really limiting our options (avalanche danger). There are still places to check out that give no avalanche risk climbing, one of them near a place called Skibotn, on the other side of the fjord – perhaps we’ll try it 2morrow.
Well, the weather broke. It’s been a warm and wet day. Not the kind of thing we wanted to see.
Despite this, the 3 guys got up very early hoping to do some climbing before I’d start to rain mid-day. They walked towards one of the lines behind our hut (but further north than the previous days).
Unfortunately, the line wasn’t suitable wasn’t in a condition suitable for a safe ascent, so as we observed them from the living room window they descended and returned home.
It was clear to us then that today wasn’t going to be a climbing day, so we decided to just go out and explore some of the areas further north and scout possible lines we looked up online (it’s rare you find any information for areas here anyway).
We drove north up 868 rode via Kvalvik, stopping by the road and looking up all the routes along the way. The selection is quite good, however, most of them are quite high up the mountain, and usually have a serious amount of snow above – a big no-no in current conditions.
We continued up north through Lyngseidet (where you can catch the ferry to the other side of the Lyngen fjord, to Olderdalen).
Fun fact – a drive across the fjord from is a long Lyngseidet to Olderdalen (which you can easily see!) is a long 128km, and would take 2 hours drive. A ferry is just a 40minutes affair. No wonder it was busy!
Either way, we continued North-East towards Rottenvik, where we wanted to find Rottenvikfossen line.
We followed the rough description we found on UKC, which took us to a parking spot (69°36’13.2″N 20°15’53.4″E), where we met many cross country skiers. Seems like a popular spot for this kind of thing
The path is quite clear – you just go north thru the woods, roughly following the trail, and then look out for ice on the left hand side (after around 1.2km).
At first, we found a couple of short and weak-looking lines, located higher up on the mountain, probably not worth doing.
We moved a bit further and spotted what looked like the line we were after: Rottenvikfossen
It doesn’t look to be in the best nic, but if the conditions won’t improve (and it doesn’t look like they will), it will have to do – it’s likely we’ll get back there tomorrow or the day after.
Upon returning to the car, we drove back south, stopping a few times to look at the views. The fjord, the architecture, the mountains. It’s all really unique and amazing.
The whole hunting subject is quite interesting. I always seen it as a ‘rich man’s sport’, but in Norway it’s quite different – the activity is highly regulated and part of their culture and heritage – I think this article explains the topic quite well.
Anyway, we drove past our hut, further south towards the tunnel near Lyngspollen to check out routes on that side. We were previously informed by the locals (and also read online), that routes in that area wouldn’t be a good bet at this time of the year, due to avalanche danger (there is a reason that 3km tunnel is there – as the old road used to be buried in avalanche debris all the time).
Either way, these routes are a much safer bet to do earlier in the season. It’s one of the trade-offs – some lines are just not safe late in the season, but a fair game earlier on. This however has a downside on its own – shorter days and much colder temperatures and often thinner ice.
From there we drove 5 more kilometers south towards the next location we knew about: Furuflaten. There are a number of lines above that village, but they were likely to also suffer from high avalanche danger due to the snow accumulation above.
The selection is amazing – however, their location is dangerous. Each of these lines is a serious undertaking – you’d want the condition to be just perfect. I think we’ll have to leave them for another time (as it seems that temperatures wont drop below 0C this week again).
There is another line further down to the left in that area, a 100m WI4 called Lyngsdalsfossen, which we went to have a look at as well (from distance). The approach seems long but not impossible. Seems like a full-on adventure too. Doubt we’ll get the conditions for it though :/
As I mentioned earlier, the forecast doesn’t look amazing for the remaining 3 days we have. Hopefully, we’ll still get to climb something. But even if not, we’ll go snowshoeing and explore the area more – there are plenty of places to see here!
Day 3 of our ice adventures took us back to the area we were in yesterday. According to UKC it’s called Istinden, so we’ll stick with that.
Plan was simple – Paul and I would do the route the guys did yesterday, and they’d go do the chimney one we did. Since they had more terrain to cover (and climb as 3), they left before us – this allowed us to spot them on their path up the climb in this amazing photo:
As we were talking last night, I realized that what we originally thought was the 4th line (furthest right), in reality, it is 5th. There is actually one more line, hidden behind the rock, and adjacent (Y shape) to the 5th. And it was that hidden one that was our objective for today.
Even though the route is further up the path, the approach felt easier, as it wasn’t as steep or high up as yesterday’s one.
As we got to the base and racked up, Paul lead the first pitch, WI3, choosing to build a belay 30m from the start, at the intersections of the Y junction.
From there he opted to turn left and really went at it for the full rope length (60m).
There was an option to actually stop at various points (the guys’ yesterday v-thread was actually just 10m above our first Belay), as the line was broken up by a series of ledges, but Paul opted to continue on and see what’s above the next vertical section ahead.
And to no surprise, there was more ice, which he swiftly climbed, and built a hanging belay, making it a mega 60m pitch. I promptly followed.
Perhaps it wasn’t the best of the places to be, but with no more rope left, we had no choice. It was located in a narrow passage to the upper section, that would funnel all the debris falling from the top, but we made it work – the belay was positioned well (given its location), so I could step out of the way.
Paul and I have been climbing together before, spending a week swapping leads in Hemsedal on our previous trip (in 2020), so our systems are tuned in quite well – there is a very little faff, we both know what other person ‘thinks’ (while climbing) and is going to do next (and why!) – it all comes with experience, and results in making things go fast, smooth and most importantly safe.
The top Pitch was 30 meters, a bit of snow slope leading to a pillar, that went for 16 or so meters, at around WI4.
Once at the top we quickly did the math and figured out that we are just about 120meters from our bags, meaning we could run two 60m abseils.
Unfortunately top didn’t have any trees, so the descent was going to be a V-thread.
As expected, this took us to roughly 60m of the bags, and another quick&solid vthread took us back to the start of the climb.
On the way down we inspected the right-hand side line – which is something we could come back to on some future days (it seems a bit steeper, but definitely a lot wetter).
Once on the path, we spotted the guys abseiling off their climb (the one we did yesterday). It was great to know they were on their way home too.
It turned out that the guys had also a successful day, and since they are climbing as 3, they just run out of time to get to the top tree- however they did climb the hard pitches in the midsection of the route. Well done!
Tomorrow the weather is meant to change a bit with light snowfall expected and we are not sure what we will do. Perhaps go back and do the right-hand side variant, or walk up further down the path to check the other climbs there (meant to be 8 or more formed.
from v-threads at the top on the right hand side, 55m
from v-threads half way up the route to the base 60m
P1 – WI3, 30m
P2 – WI4, 60m (but can be easily broken down to 2)
Day 2 of our ice adventures can be described with one word: spicy.
But lets start from the beginning.
The plan of action for today was to explore the area directly behind our accommodation. It’s so close, (1.5km to the base) that it’s a no-brainer. The side of the mountain has a number of good-looking lines, almost none of which is described in the guidebook.
The first, and most obvious line, seen in the above picture turned out to be a no-go. It’s actually the only one with a somewhat detailed description in the guidebook (in that area) (out of the 5 lines we saw today). The route is named Pollelva and graded WI4. Unfortunately, the amount of snow accumulated at the funnel above the narrow cleft would make it very dangerous. Bringing binoculars paid off.
We continued the path and turned our eyes on the other 4 lines seen. The guidebook doesn’t give any details, other than the fact that they are there.
The first from the left is the line that Paul and I ultimately did today.
It caught our eye due to its interesting chimney start, and a wide curtain of ice above with relatively low avalanche danger above that. As all ice climbers know, ice always is steeper than it looks… More about it later.
As the short path ended, we put on the snowshoes and started going up towards the climb. And that was one steep approach… Forget about broken trail or anything like that – it was as virgin and onsight as they come.
Con, Aidan and Niall continued further to explore the 4th line (there turned out to be another one – the 4th one seen on the picture is actually 5th) . Con promised to give details of their adventure at a later time. I guarantee it will be spicey too!
After not so long the slope has gotten quite steep, to the point we had to take off the snowshoes, and continue without.
I decided to be a littele bit more useful and took lead on breaking the trail. A step at a time 😉
When we finally got to the base we were happy to see that 1st pitch was fully formed, and seemed quite amenable, at around WI3.
While P1 was not hard, it was composed of slushy snow, making it hard to place protection. No problem to Paul, he took the lead and finished it in no time with ice screw belay at the flat enough platform at the top of the pitch.
P2 was a different story. As steep and as long as they get, albeit there seemed to be a shortcut available, on the right-hand side. This would mean however climbing on questionable quality frozen snow.
Paul decided to tackle the line head-on, going to the left-hand side (so he wouldn’t be climbing directly above me).
P2 turned out to be 30m long and ended with half-hanging belay. We thought it to be WI4+. No steps or hooks, steep and sustained (but not exactly WI5).
The view from that point was already incredible – and we were just approaching half-height point.
It was at this point that I got quite severe hot aches. Just something that has to happen for me at some point. I guess part of the game. Never a pleasant sensation.
After a quick recovery break, we quickly re-stacked the ropes, and Paul was on his way up again. This pitch was also around 25m long, at around WI4.
While I had no problems (fitness-wise) following him at any point, it was clear to me at this point that I’m so out of practice that my head game isn’t just there for leading those grades. There are no prizes for injuring oneself, and with Paul being happy to cruise up, we let it be that way.
Top of Pitch 3 was a ‘nice’ mini-cave with another screw belay. This time however the surface was flat, giving a comfortable stance.
Getting out of caves always produces spectacular photos, and this time it wasn’t any different.
The first part of P4 (WI4+, 50m) was – steep, sustained and had no hooks or steps whatsoever, producing quality climbing. 2nd part of it was much worse, being more wet made placing protection challenges.
Also, the belay situation wasn’t exactly clear – as Paul wasn’t sure if we’d have enough rope to make it to the trees on the right-hand side of the pitch. Luckily the math worked out in our favor – and with few meters to spare I promptly followed.
Way down was fairly straightforward – we used the trees on the right-hand side (we mostly climbed on the left-hand side of the falls). Other than a clusterfck of rope tangle on the first abseil, it went smooth without rope’s knot getting stuck anywhere.
Descent in total was 3, almost full rope lenghts abseils.
from a tree at the top of P4 – 50m to the level of the cave
from a tree to the top of P1 55m, to top of P1.
abalakov ice thread from top of p1, full 60m to the end of the rope, top of the ascent slope.
From there a long walk down the steep slope to the path.
Since we don’t know the route’s name, but definitely must have been climbed in the past, we just called it L1, WI4+, 145m.
P1 – WI3, 40m
P2 – WI4+, 30m
P3- WI4, 25m
P4 – WI4, 50m
The climb was amazing, and at least this year, the far right hand side of it gives even more challenging and steep climbing – especially by the top – where a stunning pillar has formed. Unfortunately (or luckily?) it was all wet and fairly thin at this point in the season.
Tomorrow we are likely to go back to that area and try one of the other lines there.
Here we go again. After 2 years break (due to obvious reasons), we are back climbing Ice.
This time around the adventure took us to the northern parts of Norway – The Lyngen Alps.
The Lyngen Alps (Norwegian: Lyngsalpene) are a mountain range in northeastern Troms og Finnmark county in Norway, east of the city of Tromsø. The mountain range runs through the municipalities of Lyngen, Balsfjord, and Storfjord. The mountains follow the western shore of the Lyngen fjord in a north-south direction. The length of the range is at least 90 kilometres (56 mi) (depending on definition—there are mountains all the way south to the border with Sweden) and the width is 15–20 kilometres (9.3–12.4 mi). The mountains dominate the Lyngen Peninsula, which is bordered by the Lyngen fjord to the east, and the Ullsfjorden to the west.
Unfortunately for one of the guys the trip finished even before it started – he got sick last week and had to cancel last minute. It is really hard to stomach, as he was the one who did most reserch in organizing things (finding flights, researching area etc etc). Luckily he’s recovering well and we are all sure he’ll be back to full strenght soon.
This way or another, the remaining 5 of us, took a flight to Tromso (via Oslo). The flights from Oslo was surprisingly busy – Full plane.
I asked one of the passengers why everyone is going to this middle of nowhere – “It’s prime Northern Lights season”. Ah yes. I did not disappoint – we were welcomed by it at the airport’s car park!
The journey took around 12h (Dub-Oslo-Tromso +2h drive) and at late evening we ended up in our hut near a village called Lyngspollen.
Day 1 of climbing was today – we got up to heavy winds and snowfall – the mountains we can see from the hut were out of the question – we had to find an alternative.
The remote nature of the place means there isn’t much in terms of guidebooks, trip reports, or route descriptions – making it somewhat unique and adventurous – I did read however that the area offers some very good road-side climbing along the E6 road (which happen to be exactly on the opposite side of the Lyngen Fjord – 1h drive).
We packed up and drove up. Studded tyres of our small 4×4 hybrid cars worked wonders on the icy roads, and we were climbing in no time.
We found 3 suitable lines around Stølandet Beach that were a safe distance from the road (some of the lines were directly above the road – belaying or climbing there would be unsafe). I climbed with Paul, while Con, Niall and Aidan went together as 3.
This is my 7th year of ice climbing, and I have never climbed ice directly above a beach. Unreal experience.
Obviously, we have no idea the names of the lines we climbed, and while you will not meet many other climbers here (as opposed to some other well-known places, such as Rjukan or Hemestal in southern parts of Norway) – these were definitely not the first ascents 🙂
First-line we did was around WI3, 30m and gave solid first feel for the local ice.
While the air temperature wasn’t too bad, around -2C, the morning and early afternoon felt very cold and snowy, mostly due to strong wind. For that part of the day we had all our layers on.
2nd and 3rd lines of the day were few hundred meters down the road, and both slightly harder than the first one. Both provided around WI4 experience.
When we got to the base of the 2nd line, the guys were abseiling it already, which was perfect timing, as they could move to the directly adjacent (on the right) line no 3, as we went up the 2nd one.
Now, looking at those lines from the road, we knew there is some special magic waiting up above it (since we checked the map beforehand), but I didnt expect the view to be this incredible: more rock and ice – definitely of the more adventurous type:
Turn back and there it is – Lyngen Fjord in all its glory: at the base of that mountain is our hut – a mere 1h drive around the fjord:
Line 3 had few lines to choose from, and Paul being badass he is picked the steepest, blankest and hardest one on the right-hand side – for practice.
As we were climbing Line3 the boys drove up to check out Line1 we climbed earlier. Perfect finish for perfect day.
We met back at the hut later, where Masterchef Con served Meal-of-the-day. Can’t complain about that service!
Tomorrow, if the forecast will allow, we’ll explore the area around the hut – Plenty of lines around here (we can see them from the hut!), but the approach or their conditions aren’t clear. Just have to walk up and see. Adventure time!