A report concerning the tragic events in Rjukan leading to the death of climber has been compiled. The report can be found here
Well overall we had an amazing trip, thanks to those that gave us lifts, money and kit for the trip. We saw crazy temperatures and changed our plans about 100 times but at the end of the day this is what its all about. The trip had highs and lows and I think we both learnt a lot about each other and our personal expectations and goals. Our equipment performed outstandingly and I think is now well oiled now for ice fall climbing. I should have some reviews soon on the newer bits of kit I used like the Petzl Lazer speed and speed light screws. We are looking forward to another trip next year, possibly a little bit earlier, late Jan most likely.
We are already planning our next trip which will be two weeks in the Dolomites this summer.
Ok so maybe its not as hot as poontang but its got up to 9 degrees c in the sun! Iv never experienced a range in temperatures like this before, crazy! The annual Rjukan ice fest starts tomorrow too, good luck with that. So we were planning on hitting up one of the easy 11+ pitchers down near Mael for a final day but its just so warm. We headed instead up to Vermork and walked along the old railway line on the shady side to see what Junglebokka looks like. A lot of soft snow around, walking was tricky and the ice underfoot was terrible. We found the climb which by now was a stream of water over desperately thin ice. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be, we exchanged some beta with a couple of other climbers with the same idea and headed back to the car via Seuses veil which was also vanishing. The two guys had just been to Krokan which was now a river. So we had a nice day walking about the valley and exploring some more, we dropped all our wet kit back at the hostel to dry for the flight tomorrow and went for a drive up Gausta to collect our goggles from the snow cave. We drove right up to the trainline Gaustabannen and took in the spectacular views across the valley and into Hardangervidda, Norways largest National Park. We took a drive up into the ski areas and watched some skiing before getting some supplies from the mini pri. We had a leisurely pack and sort that night ready for our flights tomorrow.
Woke up to a balmy 7 degrees! looking out of our window up the valley a lot of ice has thawed over night with significant ice and rockfall in the area. This in mind we thought about heading up to Gausta but with upland gales we decided on a days top roping at Ozzimosis again, the shadowy and sheltered crag left a lot of ice albeit wet and fragile. First ones there again, loving these early starts, after an epic multi pitch abseil down to the top of the ice fall we got a top rope up on an unnamed WI4 and another on a WI5 at the end of Ozzimosis. The change in steepness and pump in my arms from WI4 to 5 is crazy! Got a lot of gym work to make the grade jump next year! It was great to have the safety of a top rope and to disregard any ideas of falling to concentrate on technique and the ice. After a good day at Ozzimosis we headed back up the road to Gausta to some huge snow drifts where we dug a cave and generally played about in deep snow!
The day left our kit soaked and hammered so we spent a good hour or so giving the gear some TLC and drying it out, its a shame its only now we realise there's a drying room on site! Salmon and pesto for dinner, 4 and 5 out of ten, probably the worst yet, I had high hopes for this meal.
Bad news, it warming up! We took advantage and had a rest day, we headed down to the town and checked out the library, sun mirrors and generally had a potter about. Its nice to have scheduled a bit of time in to actually appreciate where we are. We had a look around Vermork Powerstation and the Norsk Industriarbeider Museum before getting the Krossobanen cable car, always good to be in a cable car with a Rollgliss sitting in the corner! Anyway we had a nice meal and good play in the snow, makes a change from free dried meals!
We had a nice early start leaving the hostel by 0810, we headed up to Ozzimosis and were the first climbers there. It was a cold day with high winds so we appreciated the shelter the steep sided gorge provided. We got straight on Klassisk 4 a nice long WI3 with loads of variations, we took the steeper line on good ice and finished up in the trees. There was a lot of debris at the top and setting up a belay was troublesome at first. Ella followed me up with cold hands and seemed to find all the wet spots! There were loads of cool features on this route and the best was an overhang to the left which formed a perfect ice cave which Ella traversed across into. By now we could see other parties descending own to the steep path and a couple of lads getting ready to climb this route. We got sorted and abseiled down nice and smooth to have a chat with the lads from Poland. We had a break and took a look round the lower sections, full of top ropes and groups, we found Skrueis a WI3 which had formed into a steeper WI4, we finished that super quick but were starting to et cold hands so stopped for lunch and did some ice bouldering. Ella took her first lead on some un named ice which had formed nice terraces every so often with a mix of ice and neve it emulated classic Lakeland conditions. We slowly meandered back to the car and headed to Gausta to see what was in and explore a little out of the valley before heading back down to Rjukan for a quick supermarket stop. Freeze dried meal update: Balkan Risotto, 8/10 from the both of us, a resounding success!
We managed an early night after sorting out our kit and got up at 0700, sunrise was about 0730. After breakfast we headed off up to Vermork Bridge in the shadow of the power station, there was a light dusting of snow but overall snow was thin on the ground as far as Norway goes. We descended into the gorge and headed up the frozen river. We arrived at the first climb Tracey's Eyes which was thin and desperate looking, we continued further past Lettvan until Nedres Svingfoss WI3. It looked nice and thick, one long pitch up to a belay in some trees, a good warm up for me and first ice route for Ella. We got kit ready and had a play around, getting used to water ice again, a few small solos, traversing, screw placement etc. Once id blown the dust away I led the route with no trouble, it was nice steady climbing with great views across the gorge. It begun to snow and the whole gorge became very atmospheric! Soon I had set up the belay, I was going to use a lot of European or guide techniques this week and I soon had a direct belay set up using my belay device in guide mode. Ella was soon on her way up and joined me at the belay, we prepared for the first of many abseils this week and set off, we had terrible trouble with tangled ropes, something we worked hard on all week.
At the base of the climb, we had a play with V-Threads, screws etc. and had a little solo around. We walked out of the gorge early afternoon and had a chat with an old kiwi couple who had been in Rjukan climbing for a month! They said Ozzimosis was in good nick and we swapped info. We went for a little drive to see some of the roadside climbs and had an explore around the town. Dinner was Creamy Pasta which I gave a 9/10, Ella had Pasta with Chicken and Spinach which she gave a 3/10.
Up at 5am for the familiar slog up to Gatwick, good clear roads and a swift check in meant we took off on time and were soon in Copenhagen for a transfer. Copenhagen to Oslo was nice and quick, total flying time is about 3 hours. We picked up our rental car and headed North to Rjukan. Driving was fairly easy, roads were clear for the first hour or so until we hit smaller roads, after 3 hours of driving we hit Rjukan and checked in to our hostel Rjukan Gjestagrd. I cant recommend it highly enough, I know I could of got a better deal staying at the old school hostel with Jakob but the locations ideal, good parking, breakfast and you can make your own lunches. Considering food prices in Norway its more than worth it.
We had the first of many Trek'n'eat freeze dried meals for dinner, I had a nice beef casserole which I gave 8/10, Ella however had gone for the more exotic choices and ended up with Mediterranean fish stew which she gave a 4/10.
Conditions are looking good in Rjukan, a little warm, temperatures keep popping above 0c. Overall I'm hopeful, reports coming back are looking good. Check out Lee Harrisons blog for some up to date info.
Photo credit to Lee Harrison, Abseiling Nedre Svingfoss.
Working on training plans and templates today, going to share and make available everything I come up with. Here is Steve Houses weekly training record template, my sample food diary and a core workout from "Training for the new Alpinism".
Thanks for checking out my website, my name is Tom Gwilliam an adventurer and educator. Here you will find out about my trips, training, equipment and reflection.