2022 Lyngen Non classé

Lyngen Alps – Backcountry Climbing

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.

Walk-in was a piece of cake.

Since we already knew the path, the walking was no problem, and in no time we found ourselves at the base of the climb.

As usual – it was steeper than it looked.

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.

Paul’s P1 line was an adventure on its own.

P1 belay was a massive chain wrapped around an even bigger boulder. Definitely a unique and nice surprise!

P1 Belay, Niall coiling the ropes in preparation for P2.

P2 was a couple of dozen meters walk forward – a much more amenable and less steep feature.

Con and Aidan at the base of P2.

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.

Con and Paul on their leads on P2.

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.

Niall and Aidan following Con on P2.

The top out was straightforward – a tree where we built an abseil station.

Obligatory top-out photo.

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.

Knots on long abseils are often a good idea. (they sometimes get in a way, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid accidents)

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.

Walking off we were all wet (as everything is melting), but happy. Another great day!

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.

Lyngen Fjord as seen from Lyngseidet harbour.

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.

2022 Lyngen

Lyngen Alps – Backcountry Explorations

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.

Paul observes the lads via binoculars.

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.

Lines above the village of Kvalvik.

We continued up north through Lyngseidet (where you can catch the ferry to the other side of the Lyngen fjord, to Olderdalen).

Lyngseidet ferry being loaded up.

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 towards Rottenvikfossen is well signposted.

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.

Paul scouting lines in the distance

We moved a bit further and spotted what looked like the line we were after: Rottenvikfossen

69°36’38.2″N 20°14’48.1″E

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.

Hunter’s hut.

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.

As expected – out of bounds at current conditions.

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.

Furuflaten routes. Pick a line, any line.

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 :/

Lyngsdalsfossen WI4.

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!

2022 Lyngen

Lyngen Alps – Backyard adventures 2

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:

The boys on the approach to the Chimney Climb. See if you can spot them.

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.

The secret, real “4th” line was our objective for today. Seen here as the left hand side of the Y formation.

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.

Both lines looked impressive, with the right hand side one on the radar for further days.

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).

Paul half way up P2.

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 at top of P2, in the narrow passage belay. Top is within 30m reach now.

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.

The top pillar could be taken on from either side, Paul opted for the right-hand side, which was obstructed from view.
View from the last belay. You can spot our bags at the base of the climb.

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.

Obligatory top-out photo. Team Blue at it once again.

Unfortunately top didn’t have any trees, so the descent was going to be a V-thread.

Backed-up Vthread. As always, rock (ice?) solid!

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).

From the base, it’s a relatively easy, but still steep walk off to the path.

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.

One of the guys from our other group on the way down.

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.

Descent summary:

  1. from v-threads at the top on the right hand side, 55m
  2. from v-threads half way up the route to the base 60m

Technical summary:

P1 – WI3, 30m

P2 – WI4, 60m (but can be easily broken down to 2)

P3- WI4, 30m

2022 Lyngen

Lyngen Alps – Backyard adventures

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 4 lines of interest are seen in the middle of the picture. In reality there is a 5th, hidden line, as they last one splits into Y after P1.
Close-up view of the lines of interest.

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!

The 3 amigos heading towards their climb.

After not so long the slope has gotten quite steep, to the point we had to take off the snowshoes, and continue without.

Snowshoes off. It’s hard to convey the steepness of the terrain in a photo, but i guarantee it was steep.

I decided to be a littele bit more useful and took lead on breaking the trail. A step at a time 😉

The total elevation gain from the path to the base of the climb was around 300m.

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.

Pitch 1, WI3, 45m

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.

End of P1.
Looking down from top of P2 belay, down towards the P1 Chimney

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).

Paul on P2

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.

View from top of P2. Our huts are seen in the middle left of the photo.

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 P3

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.

Paul leaving for the 4th Pitch

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.

Obligatory top photo. There was possibly 1 more pitch to do after, but it wasn’t very good-looking. This is quite normal for climbs of that type. To us the climb ends with the highest tree we see 😉

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.

First abseil.

Descent in total was 3, almost full rope lenghts abseils.

Dodgy abseil of the day.

Descent summary:

  1. from a tree at the top of P4 – 50m to the level of the cave
  2. from a tree to the top of P1 55m, to top of P1.
  3. 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.

Technical summary:

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.

my travels Scotland 2018

Scotland Day 3 – Buachaille Etive Mòr Mountain, Return home

Buachaille Etive Mòr Mountain near Glencoe was the place we chosen to climb on yesterday. Standing just over 1000m tall it provides climbing and walking  routes for all.
After very exhausting previous  day on the Ben we have decided to pick an easier option of Curved Ridge (II/III 3) that gave a pleasant experience in truly amazing setting.
40min drive from Fort William, roadside parking and easy approach on a much calmer, but still cold day made both of us happy.

Our objective ahead of us

On the approach we have met 2other parties, which always makes it easier in terms of route finding by using their steps (albeit you can’t just blindly follow others!).

Our route – nr 14

The route itself was rather easy,  started by couple hundred of snow gullies climbing (with one easy ice pitch) and then one mixed move onto a rocky ridge. We soloed all of it and when we roped up we realized that we were actually past the Crux already.

At the ‘crux’

Another couple hundred meters of easy snow climbing and we were at the windy top.

Victory photo

The descent is rather tricky to find. Generally it was meant to be an easy walk around.

To the descent gully (on the right).

We opted however to follow our companions and go down a massive gully through a  break in the cornice.

The local Scottish guys paving the road down.

5hours  car to car for 700m elevation gain was pretty good time. We were home by 3pm.

Long but pleasant walk to the car. The ridge seen above is how we got down.

Unfortunately today marks end of our short trip. Pity, as the weather just gotten very good. There is zero clouds and full on sun today. If not for the fact that I’m pretty busy at work and can’t really afford extending this stay I’d definitely would be up for few more days.

One of the stop overs on the way to the ferry. Clear skies are so rare in the highlands.

Since our ferry wasn’t until 3.30pm we decided to stop few times on the drive back. First stop was by Buachaille and took couple of aerial shots of the mountain and it’s surroundings, results of which you can  see below. I have more interesting shots, just dont have time to put them together yet. I’ll come up with some nicer, more refined cut soon.


my travels Scotland 2018

Scotland day 2 – Ben Nevis Green Gully

The most famous, the most sought after, the most bad ass, the most scarry and allso the highest mountain in all of Great Britain. Here we come! All of the bellow happened yesterday, on Paddy’s day 2018. A tradition by now, when on this day we go out and climb some ice.

After the  previous days fail, we decided to use all of the energy and enthusiasm we have for a proper alpine day out on the Ben.

I actually don’t have that much experience in tackling massive objectives like that, particularly not in the winter setting, so I was quite excited to be able to go out on an adventure with much more experience Del.

We got up just after 4am and by 5 we leftthe B&B we are staying at in Fort William.

It’s only a short drive, so by 5.15 am we were at the trail towards the CIC hut. For those lucky enough that get a bed there (people book it as far as 6months ahead), it’s a major win. The rest of us have to walk… And it’s a long a terrible walk. Especially when the conditions are not great (so almost always).

The CIC hut

The walk itself is long. And steep. And on this particular morning it was super windy, with gusts going as fast as 100km/h. It took us over 2.5h to get to the hut  (it’s only a short stop to gear up, non guests aren’t alloeed inside).

It was so windy that when I put my bag down it immediately tumbled away. 13kg….

The wind chill made the -7C feel like -15C. Taking the glowed off to tie down the crampons wasn’t an option.

It was actually difficult to decide if we should set off at all. The forecast had it wind and cold, but it was meant to calm down as the say progressed. It did not.

Either way, as all of the parties around us (there’d be total of around 15 or more teams of climbers on the Ben that day) we set off with intention of getting to the base of our climb and assessing the situation  further.

Del looking at the guidebook

It took another hour of steep snow slopes uphill battle,  with winds that put both of us at our knees more than  once when I had enough.

We looked up at the gullies ahead of us, and I totally lost all willingness to climb.

I’ve learned that day that perhaps I’m not cut out for this winter Scottish mountaineering thing. People warned me that it’s hard. It’s not enjoyable and mostly suffering. Now I know.

Del knew  that conditions were in were  poor,  and was ready to retreat if I wasn’t ready to go. After all we are a team. I looked up last one time, found some weird force inside me that pushed me forward though. ‘Let’s go’  I said and we pressed on. It’s not that I’d be super dangerous to climb. Technical difficulty is well within my range. I’ve climbed much harder routes. It was the general high wind and cold,  as well epic walk in that drained my tank that made me want to quit.

Anyway, we picked Green Gully ( IV, 3) route in the Scottish grading system, which was a fitting name for a route to be climbed on Irish National Holiday. It’s around 200m long.

We were already at 900m when we ropped up (so already had some 500m elevation gain that day)  and Del grabbed what we considered first pitch. Just a 50m snow slope with one ice screw and one nut. Belay was constructed on two weeds of grass and a Snickers bar wrapper, which is a standard Scottish practice.

I quickly followed and led up P2. It was as blank as they get. I think I’ve put half an ice screw in the whole 45m. Despite the wind it was easy and we should have soloed.

Me on p2

I run it out to  good patch of ice. This is where the ice climbing ad I know it started. A patch of ice that actually made you use your crampons front points.

Del grabbed the gear and moved on. The thing is that in scotland you climb until you can find something  to belay on, and if you run  out of rope, then your partner just moves with you. Luckily Del found a nice steep section he could put two ice screws in. And they went all the way!

P2 belay

The cold wouldn’t give up, the wind was as bad as it gets, but we were powering though. The most annoying part was that it was impossible to take more pictures. Neither of us wanted to take already cold  hands from the gloves…

I grabbed the next pitch, which was nice and solid 15m of proper ice climbing (wi3+ if I had to guess, with another possible more direct  line of wi4)  , followed by another big snow slope, with  massive cornice finishing the climb. I went as far as I could and constructed a belay with a dubious screw and two lollipops.

Del followed and immediately attacked the cornice. Unfortunately no photos as there is no way to grab the camera….

The finishing moves were on Del now and it wasn’t easy. There was no obvious break visible  in the cornice, so he had to get under it (which is super dangerous as those things are massive and can be unstable), traverse left as far as he could to find a ‘weak’ spot to hack through to the top plateau. It was around 40m effort protected by half a screw somewhere along the way.

When he topped out and disappeared behind the lip I knew my turn was comming. I also knew there will be no proper belay. Just him sitting down and pushing with his feet – a think called bucket seat. Totally legit.

I moved up under the cornice and now had to traverse. No gear ahead of me meant that if the fragile snow under my feet went I was facing  a big swing. The fact that Del didn’t see me and was pulling on the rope making me unstable didn’t help either.  But that’s how it is.

Luckily I kept my cool and topped out like I should.

Me immediately after topping out.

We quickly  unropped and wanted to get off. As we were packing we noticed our fellow Irish Mountaineering Club members Niall Hed and Aidan Roe topping out adjecent Comb gully (which was our original objective, changed in last minute to the green gully). No cornice on Comb, Niall said, and they quickly descended via no1 gully to the CIC hut. Lucky them.

Winds were still strong but at least the visibility was OK, so finding the descent route wasn’t  a problem. The problem was a long walk down to the carpark though.  Cold and tired, these 2.5h seemed like forever.

Overall, this 12h car to car day was pretty epic outing. I got the full on Scottish  experience. I’m definitely not going back here, until obviously I do.  Next year. Hopefuly by then Peter will be able to join us.

my travels Scotland 2018

Due North. Day 1.

I’ll start where we left of yesterday. We left the ferry around 10.30pm and drove for 1.5h to Kilmarnock. Had a hotel booked there for a quick rest,   before we hit the road again in the morning. The idea was to make it before morning Glasgow traffic rush and make it to Orchy Bridge around 10am and find some climbing.

In the mean time we got some intel from our trusted base camp adviser, PG on possible crags and routes in that area. Good guide book pictures etc.


We decided on Beinn Udlaigh black wall. Strong enough winds from the beginning… Welcome to Scotland, said Derek…

Steep enough walk, but nothing serious. Took just over an hour to get to the crag.

Guidebook description is accurate. Get to the farm, park outside and go through the farm up the trail. Can’t miss it.


It was pretty wet all along with rain from every direction  and wet ground.  When we finally arrived and  stood there near the base looking at the routes,  avalanche came down on either ice screw or quartzvein scoop routes (difficult to say as visibility was very poor, and with all the snow we weren’t 100% sure which one was which.

These are the ones we were planning o doing. After short discussion we  decided to turn back… It just wasnt worth risking getting swiped out. Scotland 1. Ireland 0.

We went back then to the car and drove to Fort William (1h or so).

It’s a nice mountain town. Kind of reminds me of Banff or Canmore.

We checked in to the B&B we have booked 3nights at and went do some supplies run.

Food is kind of important. So are ski goggles. Both Del and I picked up a new pair each.


They most definetly will come in handy tomorrow, on a big and windy trail to Ben Nevis. Start at 4am…


The land of the corries. Day 0

  1. A a lot of things happened since the last time I wrote here.

First bad news… My friend and main climbing partner Peter, got himself seriously injured and is out for the season (or at least first part of it).

I don’t want to get into the details but let’s say he won’t be doing any jamming anytime soon.

This unfortunate event really puts things in perspective. It’s not more than a month when we were cruising on sunny rock of Costa Blanca, and now we have to redefine the plans for the first part of the upcoming summer season.

But before summer comes there is some winter business to be had. Derek, my oldest climbing partner suggested we take advantage of recent cold spell and check out the north facing crags and mountains of Scotland.

Since we’ll be driving we have packed a lot of gear, including camping equipment. All options are on the table.

We are actually on the ferry from Belfast as I write these words, on the way to our next adventure.

The plan is to get to Scotland tonight. Get to Kilmarnock (1.5h drive) and spend the night there. Next day we want to keep driving north and perhaps find a climb (Salamander Gully (III/4) at this crag looks like a promising, 1/2 day option) on the way to Fort William.

Then we will have 2 days to climb more, and obviously everything depends on the conditions we find.


Monday is a return home day, with a ferry back to Belfast at 3.30pm

As usual, I’ll try to write daily blogs.

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Ecrins 2018

Ecrins ice climbing DAY 1

We arrived to village of Vallouise yesterday. Obviously not without troubles. A lot of snow fell over last while, which made driving from Turin quite challenging. Luckily we had snow chains and made it safely. Unfortunately the conditions for ice climbing are pretty poor right now. A lot of snow fall made the climbs prone to avalanches.

It was recommended by our host, Jerry Gore of that we should try some of the local excellent ski slopes.

No climbing today, but we were busy either way 🙂

Since my companions (Peter, Ronan and Sarah) are seasoned skiers, and I myself know how not to kill myself by going down too fast (plow style Ftw) we headed out to the nearby Puy St Vincent. We are in the Alps after all!

Since today is Sunday, the place was quite busy, especially there was a lot of children around. I’m always amazed seeing these little rascals going fearlessly downhill… I bet some of them ski better than walk!

Sarah looking ahead.

We spent good 6 hours trying different routes. Obviously the guys went on the advanced priests, while I explored all the green ones and some blues (easy ones that is).

This was my 3rd time on the skis and the fact that I now know how to turn made me very happy.

It’s steeper than it looks…

Evening was spent planning climbing routes for tomorrow. We will try some of the classics of Ceillic, but more about it tomorrow, after we actually do some climbing.

I also introduced the teamto my other hobby – board games.

Sarah planning her next move.

I brought K2 – the board game. Thematically fitting enjoyment to fill in the nights.

The game took just over an hour and I’m sure we’ll ll get to play it few more times during this trip. Now it’s time to pack the bag.

Again the forecast isn’t amazing, but we’ll give it a go.

Canada 2017

Bonus climbing day: At the zoo

When we were wondering yesterday what to do on Sunday (today, the penultimate day of our trip) I suggested we should go for a hike. One thing lead to another and we were packing our climbing bags yet again 😉

Rule Number 1 – the bag needs to be packed the night before!

We weren’t supposed to be climbing anymore, but the draw to the mountains was stronger than us. Except for the mountains at the moment are still out of bounds… The avalanche danger is still High/High/Considerable.

I’ve looked around the guidebooks for some avy safe cragging area – and we agreed on Johnston’s Canyon.
It’s pretty popular spot just 40min drive from Canmore (first exist, past Banff, going from Canmore. It’s on the old Lake Louise Road 1a – can’t miss it. ) and to quote the guide book: “it is as close to an area of “sporting ice” as the Canadian Rockies offer”. Good enough for us! Just setup that TR and do goodbye laps on steep ice.

Since Lar’s knee is still healing (it’s much better now, but he didn’t want to risk more serious injury), he stayed behind and PG and I left before 9am.

The walking to the crag is exceptionally pretty. It’s a 3km trail that goes via the Canyon itself, ending at the Upper Falls. It is VERY popular among tourists (more about it later) – apparently visited annually by 1mln tourists.


When we arrived around 9.30 am there were maybe 3 or 4 other cars and a parking lot that was a big as if it was in front of a supermarket. By the time we were leaving, it was nearly full!

End of the path at Upper Falls.

This place really draws tourists in. The path ends where the Upper Falls are. We were climbing there for few hours, and during that time the viewing platform was always full.

It felt like wild animals in a zoo. There were 4 or 5 other climbing pairs, and at least 25 onlookers at any given time. They don’t bother me to much, as long as they stay in the designated areas.

The climbing zone itself (below the catwalk ) isn’t the safest one. The recent hot temperatures melted a lot of ice, exposing the river. It’s not difficult to slip and fall in. There is plenty ice falling from above (as it normally does when one climbs) – obviously none of these non-climbers wore helmets or crampons. It is not easy for an accident… And once one happen it is usually us, the climbers who suffer the access restriction consequences…

Tourists are pouring in through the fences.

Going back to climbing and the crag itself – there are 2 main walls/sections – on the climbers left – really tall (need 70 or 80m rope if you want to abseil in 1 go) icicles – some of them connected, creating big pillars, some free hanging, some already broken off. Lines there go to WI5 difficulty.

Left hand side – Need long ropes.

Since we only taken Lar’s 60m Volta rope, we confined ourselves to the right hand side area – that also offered nice climbing lines. I’d say up to WI4 in difficulty (but also plenty of WI3 and 2 options – the more right you went, the easier it got).

Right hand side. 60m single rope will suffice. Some random people runnig laps.

We setup a TR on the left side pillar and climbed it in every way possible (up and down, many times) – trying to avoid the hooked out middle. The climbing line itself is around 22m, and ends with tree belays.

The left pillar is steeper than it looks and it gave a nice workout. It felt like and outdoors sport crag indeed!

It was a worthy bonus day. Risk free excursion to swing some axes on a sunny day. Can’t complain!

While conditions didn’t really allowed to explore some more interesting areas (Weeping Wall, The Ghost), bearing in mind the limited leading resources we had on that trip (we missed you Del!) the trip was a success. Everyone seems to achieve the goals they had in mind  (some had to lower their expectations given the circumstances) and most importantly, we are still talking to one another 😉

Tomorrow we are flying back to Dublin and while there won’t be more climb descriptions from this particular area, I’ll keep writing  for some weeks to come about some other interesting aspects of a 2 weeks ice climbing trip (some gear reviews, some video material I haven’t had time to process yet).

In the mean time the rock climbing season will roll in, so new adventures time!