Norway Ice Climbing

After having failed with ice climbing on the Alps we headed for Norway which has most roadside ice anywhere. Some people say the weather is rather poor in Norway but in my experience it’s always been good.

In 2010 we had good weather in Romsdalen, last winter there was good weather everywhere and this year the weather couldn’t have been any better in Setesdalen. Of course, there was bad weather on most of Norway on all these occasions but the country is long, the weather varies and it’s always sunny somewhere if you’re flexible with your plans.

Haegefjell: Approaching – March 2nd, 2013

Climbing ice four days in a row can get quite dull so we took the best weather day and decided to check out Haegefjell in Nissedal. The weather was freezing but we reasoned rock climbing could be doable if it was sunny enough.

We didn’t have a good guidebook for Nissedal but looking across the lake from the highway it looked like the hill could be semi-dry. We figured we could do Via Lara (4+, 380m) which is slabby rock route of moderate difficulty. We reasoned it could be doable even if it was a little wet. We both understood the snow situation was not the best but nevertheless we decided to have a look.

With closer inspection at the bottom of the cliff Via Lara looked more skiable than climbable and we turned back. This day there was no climbing but this dome definitely got few stops higher on the to-do list.

The effort didn’t go in vain, though. We learned the logistics patterns which will help loads next time. Among other things we learned that in summer one should reserve 50 NOK for the private road toll and 20 NOK per day per person for the camping. In Norway wild camping is allowed but it’s better to keep the local landowner happy. From the camping it’s less than 30 minutes to the routes. Best season is probably early summer (ie. May) before the mosquitoes attack. All summer will do, though.

Setesdal: Ride the Punani (WI3+, 200m) – March 3rd, 2013

The next day after our hiking experience we decided to actually climb something. In the morning we drove through Setesdal and picked the best looking line which was Ride the Punani near Rysstad. It was not like the other ice falls were super bad but we were late in the season. All ice falls facing sun had white sunburn. The ones in the Rysstad canyon were facing north and they had clear blue ice.

Ride the Punani was really good ice climbing. Although it wasn’t the hardest route in the area the climbing was always interesting. After having climbed the route the sun was still shining and we decided to have go on the rock routes. We drove through the valley and finally found something which looked like clean rock. Unfortunately the cracks were vegetated and thus frozen solid. After 50 meters or so we retreated and went for some chicken burgers at the Esso in Valle.

The next day we failed twice on what we thought first ascent attempts. The first time the climbing was simply too hard. Teppo said he’d never climbed ice so overhanging on toprope and we retreated. The second time we found a very nice looking easier ice line a little higher up. We cleverly tried to find our way around the back with snow mobile tracks but we got lost and never found it.

Hjartdal: Uknown ice fall (WI4, 200m) – March 5th, 2013

On the final fourth day we had a plane to catch. We drove back towards Oslo and stopped for some ice in Hjartdal. From Hjartdal it’s about three our drive to the Oslo airport.

All three ice falls in Hjartdal are in the WI3 and Wi4 range. They aren’t in any guidebooks. The Norwegians aren’t too good in documenting their ice climbs. In winter there is so much ice in every corner of the country that they don’t bother.

Hjartdal was a very good last stop for this short trip!

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