Monday, 21 February 2011

Norway Video 21/02/11

An edit of the footage from Norway taken on the GoPro and the D3100. I am majorly impressed with the D3100 and can't wait to get back out and do some more filming!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Back to the joyus Scottish weather! 18/02/11

Today I was up in the Cairngorms, t’Sneachda, for the first time this season, to hold Greg’s ropes whilst he tried to get a ground up ascent of The Hurting; weighing in at al almighty XI,11 this is one of the hardest traditionally protected (as in no bolts so you place the protection yourself) mixed climbs in the World. It was massively inspiring to see Greg working through the sequence of incredibly difficult moves and after two falls from his previous high point he finally pulled through and with some helpful power screams (from both climber and belayer!) he made it up the remainder the of wall to the top. An absolutely incredible effort given the wind and conditions on the route, not to mention the technicality and boldness of the climbing, it was truly amazing to watch. The route weighs in at E4,6a in summer which hints at the steepness and sustained nature of the route! Greg is now the third person to climb this route since it was first put up by Dave MacLeod six years ago, and I felt lucky to be able to hold his ropes on a genuinely historic ascent. Go Bozza go!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Last Day 16/02/11

With renewed psyche as a rest was in sight and not being able to climb Norwegian ice tomorrow we got up early and got the apartment all tidied up before heading back to Upper Gorge. I was mega keen to get on another WI5 and Vemorkbrufoss Vest looked very accommodating and also very fun from where we had seen it up close from the bridge the other day.
Lew and I walked in and I took on the meaty first pitch which turned out to
be pretty straightforward, certainly easy for WI5; I didn’t feel like there was actually any WI5 moves, just sustained WI4 ground. Lew then came up into the belay cave of destiny which was the best belay spot I’ve been in! Lew was looking to get on a route round the corner and so I led off up the second pitch which was short but great fun as you stepped out of the cave back onto the verticality and the ice dropped away below. Another magnificent route though and great fun, a classic line.
After this we headed round to Bakveien which Lew was really keen to get on. Nick led off up the steep looking first pitch which turned out to be quite accommodating. Lew then led the long second pitch before Nick finished up the last short pitch. I had hoped to ab down and shoot up Nye Vemorkfoss which also looked in quite easy condition but we didn’t have enough time so instead we finished up the left hand line and untied from the ropes for the last time this trip!
It’s been a fantastic trip, apart from the obvious, loads of good climbing, some amazing lines done and memorised for future visits and a really good laugh!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

An easy day 15/02/11

Feeling pretty tired again today we planned to head to Krokan, unfortunately we just missed the lights (as they are blasting the road at the moment its only open on the hour for a minute or two) and so decided to head down to Lower Gorge and do Camillas Foss before heading back up to Krokan later for the afternoon.
The crag was much quieter than when we were there last and so I got on the classic Jomfrua which gave very easy but very interesting and fun climbing bridging up a nice groove. We then headed over to the Fission Bowl where Lew put in a sterling effort to on-sight Two Assholes and Five Nice Bolts before we ran up to the car to make the lights home! Packing, resting, cleaning and eating tonight before some more tickage tomorrow hopefully and then home time for some much needed rest.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sabotorfossen Amazingness 14/02/11

After a relaxed start and much deliberation last night we headed to Upper Gorge to have a look at some of the routes there, I really wanted to do Sabotorfossen but was quite trepidatious about getting on WI5. We walked into the gorge after looking at the steep looking Vemorkbrufoss Vest and deciding WI5 was maybe outside my ability, but we headed up the gorge anyway to have a look at Bakveien and Nye Vemorkfoss and at Sabotorfossen. After seeing the last pitch from the gorge floor I immediately became massively psyched and knew we had to get on the route, it just looked totally awesome.

Nick led off up the first pitch of solid ice to a bolt belay on the left. Lewis then took on the intimidating and rather Scottish second pitch which consisted of some mixed moves and thin ice pillar climbing with some bridging and back and footing thrown in for good measure. As I approached the second belay I got to look at the crux last pitch and it didn’t look too bad, leaner than in the guidebook photo and so more opportunity for bridging between the pillars to get the weight onto the feet. After building some psyche I boldly ventured out to where it turned out that many, many, many had ventured before!

The route was fantastic but hugely stepped, I barely had to swing my axes or kick my feet, and there were pre-drilled screw holes in all the best places so it was very soft for WI5 and I felt slightly cheated I guess, but it was definitely good to have an “easy” one to begin with. Saying that it was one of the best routes I have ever done I think, three contrasting but equally brilliant pitches in a great surrounding and with good atmosphere. It was a good route for us to climb in a three as each pitch was challenging for one of us to lead and overall the route was awesome! We walked off and looked at the other lines in the gorge with new found enthusiasm and psyche and made some potential plans to squeeze some more ascents in before we have to fly home on Wednesday.

We then headed up the road a little bit to do Svingfoss which was the most roadside climbing I’ve ever done and was a good little route to finish the day. Massively psyched to have climbed my first WI5 and it was such a good route, awesome day out!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Ozzimosis 13/02/11

After yesterday’s antics we were keen for an easy day and so after dropping Pete off at the hospital, where it was confirmed that he had indeed broken his ankle; the talus in fact, which is the same bone I fractured the year before last.
We drove up to Ozzimosis and had a fun day playing on the extremely accessible ice there, it is about 5 minutes from the road! As such the ice was very stepped but still gave fun climbing on featured ice, we did Klassic 4 and Ozzimosis...hopefully going to upper gorge tomorrow to have a good day on some of the classic routes there.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Slight Epic at Mael 12/02/11

Last night we made plans to have a big day doing some of the multipitch routes at Mael, unfortunately plans don’t always pan out! After a later than expected start we braved the -18 cold outside and headed to the crag, with a 45 minute walk in we thought this would be quieter than the single pitch roadside crags. After nearly three hours we were finally in the gorge and psyche had rapidly diminished in a direct ratio to the amount of post-holing through knee deep snow we had done! Unfortunately three of the four routes in the gorge were nowhere near in condition and with avery slow party on Isroser and Nick and Lewis just jumping on the route too, Pete and I were deliberating the incredible looking Haugsfossen. Pete convinced me we should go and have a look anyway so I set off up the easier first pitch and after about 50m of somewhat insecure climbing arrived at a suitable ledge to belay on out of the way of the party ahead of us. Pete then came up as I proceeded to look for the easiest line through the imposing pillar above. Pete arrived as psyched as before and after swapping over the gear he went to have a look, after a short while he was established on the bottom of the pillar and looking good. I was looking across the gorge at Nick and Pete and admiring the view when there was a sudden fast whipping noise. I thought I’d dropped something but the realisation hit when I was jerked onto the belay; Pete had fallen and was hanging upside down about three metres below a screw. I asked if he was alright and he replied no and then I knew it was going to be a long day! After getting back the right way up Pete tried to put some weight on his left ankle but there was no way he could climb a pitch of WI6 on it.
I lowered him back to the belay and we assessed our options; as we had abseiled in there was no getting back to the approach path we had made earlier, we couldn’t go up without rescue from above which could take a long time and so we decided to ab off and follow the river running out of the bottom of the gorge back to the road. I went up and slowly retrieved the gear, seriously worried about the deep booming noises occassionally coming from deep inside the pillar, and we made a long ab back to the floor where it was obvious that Pete was hurt quite badly. I started to pack up all the gear and Pete began crawling, Joe Simpson-esque through the snow down towards the river. The next hour and a half were filled with sliding, abseiling, and walking (or crawling in Pete’s case) over partly frozen river in the dark until we finally hit the road. I went to get the car and as I re-parked to get Pete down the last bit of river a guy came to help us; Bjorne turned out to be an ex-climber and was a genuine legend and very kind helping us out of the river gorge and into his house where he provided much needed tea, warmth and even crutches. After a while I went out to find Nick and Lewis at the car after they had had a similairly long but less epic day than us. We headed to the supermarket and splashed out on some Fishenbossen which was a surprise dish as it had no indication of its contents on the packaging, without a tin opener Nick craftily opened it with his axes and after Lewis rustled up dinner we were still none the wiser as to what it was! I think the word to describe today was epic, and definitely not in a good way. Hopefully less of that and more of the fun single pitch, short walk in routes for the rest of the week!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Lower Gorge Fun 11/02/11

After a nice lie in this morning we decided to head to Lower Gorge and do some more single pitch climbing. After finally finding the car park we walked down to the Hjemresisen area to play. Some of the ice falls looked amazing on the way in, especially Swiss Army which looked in really good condition and way fatter than in the guidebook photo. We headed further down to the gorge to do some easier routes to warm up. We started on a rather lean looking Kort og Godt and climbed a pillar variation on the left which gave great, if slightly short, climbing up to a convenient thread round a pillar. We then headed over to the amazing looking Hjemreisen which gave a nice sustained pitch of WI4 and was nicely stepped out too. After this Pete and I moved together up the three star LP-Plate which goes at WI3 and was good fun; moving together is ridiculously fast and it was good to practice techniques like this, we also both abbed off at the same time which was also useful and fun: we didn’t think the rope was moving around too much but it wouldn’t be that much fun on a sling if the ropes started to slide!
To end the day we headed back up the gorge to have a look at Swiss Army which again was quite stepped out and fatter than in the guidebook photo. Pete and I were both keen to experience our first WI5 and so jumped on the left hand line. It was great climbing and slightly harder than anything we have done so far this trip, it was stepped out which made it feel slightly easier but it felt soft for WI5 in today’s conditions...sorry, I actually mean it was obviously WI6 and we were beasting! A great way to finish the day in the dark and a great note to the end of the second day. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip brings!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Rjukan Ice Cragging Extravaganza 10/02/11

It seemed I would never get to Rjukan; I had unfortunately missed all previous trips due to various other commitments and no one seemed psyched to go back this year. However I got in touch with Pete who seemed super keen and before we knew it we had 4 people (Pete, Nick, Lew and Me) together and a flight booked for the following Wednesday...this was on Monday!
After a late arrival into Oslo Torp last night we made it to Rjukan, with the help of winter tyres, in the earlier hours of the morning. After a quick scout of our accommodation we went to bed ready for our first day cranking on Norwegian ice!

The day started well; it took a few seconds to wonder why there was a jeep skidding towards us..oh yes, you drive on the right-hand side of the road here! We headed to Krokan to sample some of the single pitch routes to get into the swing of things. The crag is incredible and as you walk in you get a full view of most of the routes so psyche builds quickly! I jumped on Gaustaspokelse, a WI4 which turned out to be steeper than expected; the first half went swimmingly but my arms started to rapidly loose strength as I began the direct upper icefall in an earnest and enthusiastic way, and I ended up firing in a screw and slumping onto it about two metres from the top. After a quick rest and ego check I traversed slightly to the left to do some fun bridging moves up the remainder of the climb. I abbed off and Pete led the same line giving a good effort. I was hoping to be finding WI4 reasonable but this certainly wasn’t the case today! I’ll blame it on not sleeping well last night, driving for three and a half hours into the early hours of the morning and...being generally weak! Perhaps a good way to start a trip though. After some lunch and scoping about for what lines didn’t have a four person queue I headed up a variation line to the left of Bullen which was very good and going at about WI4- with lots of interesting climbing. I then set up an ab line and played about on the new camera for a while trying to get some good shots and video. My arms felt pretty gubbed and with six days of climbing still to come I was keen to retain some of my flailing strength so it was a relatively short day getting our bearings but incredible nonetheless and I’m super psyched for the rest of the week now!