09 February 2009

Winter fun in Norway

Lots of snow at the Evil Lair and in the mountains, Bergen looks great when it's like this.

Saturday we headed to Voss with half of the JAPOW crew. It was a bit of a shock to go back to flat light, T-bars and lots of people, after being in Japan but at least the snow was good and there was lots of fresh powder. Had a great morning doing fresh lines up on top of the mountain although the poor visibility was vaguely reminiscent of the night surfing scene in Point Break were Bodhi tells Utah to "just go accept its energy..."

Saturday night we had chili with the Hesses and everyone tried very hard to stay awake despite being wasted from the efforts of the day.

Sunday was an amazing blue sky day. I headed out with Sandy to climb the first ice of the year. Drove up past Eikedalen which was not in condition. almost all the way to Voss. On the way we spotted a few things that might have been climbable but didn't inspire and one wall that looked huge and very, very scary (see below) - maybe another day.

Eventually ended up at Skjervsfossen, which is a big water fall just outside of Voss, much loved by bus loads of tourists that wind up the very steep switch back road in the summer. It looked frozen and do able.

We got out of the car and it was seriously cold (c. -12c) and there was a brutal biting wind. Kitted up and headed over to the fall. It was still flowing on the right hand side and the occasional large block came crashing down, inspiring! The left hand side however looked pretty easy and I was wandering if we would get anything else done afterwards.

Sandy whizzed up the lower part and then got to the vertical bit which he pronounced to be overhanging, rotten and rather unpleasant. He came down. For some reason which I haven’t quite figured I then went up and discovered that that he was correct but he had failed to mention the spray from the waterfall which was being blown across the face and coating everything with a layer of ice. Nice!

I got a couple of good screws in and climbed about 3 m vertical to a large mushroom pedestal where I could stand and review the situation. By this stage I was coated in some much ice that I could hardly open the gates on the crabs and both the ropes and my jacket were like cardboard. The next 5 m was more vertical, chandelier stuff and I began to regret my bravado. Still the only way was up and two more good screws should at least stop a ground fall...

Hacked my way up, rapidly running out of steam and racing my draining energy. Fortunately the angle eased just in time and I began to think I might just make it. By this time my left arm was jelly and my calves were burning like crazy, I had to just tell myself to keep it together and not fall now, cos that would be stupid.

Lunged onto a belay and lay their panting like the proverbial fish out of water. Brought Sandy up and he then dispatched the upper pitch in good fashion. By this stage the ropes were solid and I had a chronic case of the hot-aches. How I love ice climbing!

Finished up and headed back to Bergen feeling suitably prepared, mentally at least, for the arrival of the UK ice crew next weekend.

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