Sunday, February 26, 2006


Back in Rjukan after the last couple of days in "The Motherlode,' the real name of which is Eidfjord, in the west of Norway. There, now you've got the info! I think Eidfjord is going to become world famous, there's just way too much good ice for any sane person to deal with. The area is well-known for having one of the many "biggest/highest" waterfalls in Europe, a thing called Voringfossen. The canyon below Voringfossen has around 20 high quality lines ranging from WI 3 to WI psycho. The actual falls of Voringfossen itself is kind of funky due to the volume of water, but could certainly be climbed... Spak and I climbed two new lines in the Voringfossen canyon and bailed off a third in one of the weirder ice experiences I've ever had.

We went to do the "first choice" line in the canyon despite a sudden surge in temperature. It offers about 300M of very steep ice, with the upper half getting sun. The rock on the side was sending down some missiles as the ice melted off of it, but the centre seemed solid enough so we blasted up an 80M pitch of WI5 to get to the business. Andreas belayed behind the pillar on good screws, and I started up the very wild ice on the front. As soon as I crossed onto the ice that had been getting sun things got extremly funky, and when I got into the sun things got even more funky. The climbing wasn't too bad, but small missiles were falling past and it was only getting warmer. I figured that if we could get up on the upper third it was all good to go, so I kept climbing on some barely frozen slush. It was sketchy but I got some increasingly marginal screws and figured I'd just gun it for cave and belay there. Unfortunately the ice in the cave was shit also, despite digging down through the top 40cm, which took me to the rock. Why was thing still even standing? After 50M of not being able to get a belay and no better ice in sight I was in a predictament. The solution was to downclimb the pillar... It was engaging, as was rapping back down the approach pitch and gully. I sacrificed a screw to get off really fast, better gear than me or Andreas.

I was too pounded to climb a fourth day, so Andreas and I called it good. Eidfjord gets some serious temperature fluctuations--Andreas thinks it's good a lot of the time, and we're already planning a return mission next year. A dozen climbers could have at the place for month and not get everything done, it's just silly for that much ice to be in one place. The lines are far steeper and bigger than any other area I've ever seen, never mind the gully routes and various bits hanging about...

So, two and a half new routes done in three days, not bad! For me it's almost as exciting discovering a new area as climbing the routes, send me an email if you do something cool!

Taught clinics and gave a show here in Rjukan over the last few days with Adam and the Rjukan team, there's lots of great ice here too. My flight from Scotland to Norway was about one third Brits coming over here to climb, Rjukan is sort of the Ouray of Europe--super reliable ice conditions, lots of it. Beer is expensive but the ice is free.

Heading back to Canada over the next couple of days, it's been a hell of a trip overall, lots of good fun with good people and even some decent climbing. I'm starting to feel a little burned on winter, that shows how lucky I am, no complaints.


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