16 March 2010

Ice Ice Baby

Its been an amazing winter in western Norway, very cold for a sustained period of time, which means lots of ice in good condition. Last weekend I had some old friends across to visit with the main intention of climbing. Things at work have been horribly busy so I was very happy to take a day off and head to the hills.

The guys arrived on the late Gatwick flight on Thursday night so we sat around and drank beer until about 1.30. Friday morning we headed up to Voss to check out a 5 pitch route that Sandy had recommended. It has been a bit warm on the west coast in the last week so I thought it had probably melted. When we got there it was still looking ok, so after a fairly grim wade through thigh deep snow Dave and I picked it off. It was longer than it looked but a great start to the weekend.

Mike and Clair at Voss

Five pitches that were in better nick than they look here. Near Voss

Drove to Hemsedal and arrived very late, due to a fairly pointless road closure (klonnekkjøring). Next day we checked out a long grade 5 above Ulsåk which looked rotten and rather nasty so we headed to Haugfossen, one of Norway’s more popular ice locations. It’s popularity is totally justified, two really nice falls, sheltered from the wind, fat, great plastic ice and a blue sky day. Sandy cracked off a nice WI5 which I seconded, Dave did another on the same fall while Mike and Clair climbed a route on the left side of the main fall. I then led the long WI4+ pitch on the right side of the main fall. Ice climbing doesn’t get much better than that.

Sandy at the base of Indrehaugfossen - bigger and steeper than it looks here

Clair on Haugfossen

Dave looking realxed on steep ice - Indrehaugfossen

Yours truly on the RDS of Huegensfossen (pic by Dave)

That night we managed to drink a lot of wine (18 bottles between 8), some beer and half a bottle of jeager in the hot tub at the cabin. Not sure where all that booze went but it was a fun evening. Next day, we were all looking and feeling decidedly ropey. Sandy, Helen and Ceclie headed off to ski at the ski-centre and we opted to explore Lærdal. It has some amazing, large and very scary looking ice lines in it, which are way too hard for mere mortals like me, but I had got a guide off Jamie which suggested that buried in the side valleys were some more do-able routes.

We scouted a few before we hiked up a gorge to huge amphitheatre called Nausagrovi, with 4 distinct falls and numerous ice lines. The most obvious was a big fat fall that looked at two pitches of 3+ or 4.

Nausagrovi in Lærdal, 150m of WI4

Mike took pictures while I dispatched the first pitch. An unconformable, near-hanging belay brought Dave up who then dispatched the steep second pitch, pronouncing that he wasn’t going to make the top. By this time I had been on the belay for about an hour and a half, why one foot had serious pins and needles, I was cold, hungover and getting spooked by how quickly the ice screws were meting out. I seconded the pitch and lead through to another full rope length and the top. The angle eased off just in time as I ran out of energy and motivation and I reached an awesomely conformable belay at the top and brought Dave up. Some fairly hairy abs got us back down again and we walked back to the car in the dark. A fairly full on day, especially considering the hangover and the previous two days.

Dave on the second pitch of Nausagrovi

My rat is very well fed now, in fact I might have to put him on a diet! Great to see the guys, drink wine and climb quality ice! Now looking forward to spring.

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