Our first day was taken up entirely of travelling, it’s my 4th trip now to Rjukan, my first back in 2008 was entirely on foot and public transport, the last three have been with a hire car. It’s nice to have a trip nailed like this, no fuss travel, no time loss and so on. We arrived in Rjukan after a 3 hour drive late afternoon and settled in to our hut at the Rjuakn Hytteby. This was a new on for us, usually we stay at the Gjesteggard and I once stayed in the Climb Inn up in Vermork. It worked out a very similar price to be honest, minus the breakfast which doubles as lunch at the Gjesteggard. The huts are advertised for six, we had one for the two of us, four climbers would be snug/comfortable, six would be a nightmare!
Day two we headed up to Vermork to get an idea of conditions, Rjukan on the whole turned out to be very lean, certainly the thinnest I have ever seen it. We scoped Susses Veil which gets WI2 in the Rockfax guide, it looked fat from the car park so up we headed. After a battle with the bushes we made it to the foot of the ice fall, it was slightly wet with the ominous sound of running water but thick and solid enough to climb. I set out and lead the fall in three pitches, zig zagging across picking out an interesting route as we were the only climbers on it. We topped out and made the descent with two abseils, the second mainly on easier angled ice to avoid the bushes! Given the lean conditions it had a few thin WI3 steps that would be built up and banked up usually. It’s a great area to climb and worth the walk up the hill.
Our third day was spent exploring the lower gorge, I visited it once in 2008, Ella had never been. Finding the descent was tricky and a new fixed rope has been placed which doesn’t start where the Rockfax guide suggests. Its more or less straight down from the right hand corner of the car park. All of the climbs were very lean, some not completely formed like the classic Camillas Foss WI3, we opted not to climb and instead explored up and down the gorge for future visits. The temperature was up and not looking good for the next day or so.
We headed up to kvitavatn fjellstoge to hire some cross country skis and make the most of the slightly warmer weather only to find a regional ski competition being held so we knocked that on the head until tomorrow. We drove out toward Skinnarbu to explore the frozen Møsvatn lake and generally had a bit of an early rest day exploring beyond the Rjukan valley.
We returned to Kvitavatn to hire some cross country skis and headed out on a 10km route around lake Kvitavatn. The lean winter has affected the quality of the tracks, many of them had not yet been groomed and had patches of no snow making for tough skiing considering it being our second attempt. The temperature dropped in the afternoon and we lost the track instead breaking trail through the woods and across the hill side with Gaustatoppen to our side. We took shelter for lunch tunnelling under a fir tree for warmth before picking up another trail along the lake back to the fjellstoge.
Ready to climb again we headed into the upper gorge to see some of our favourite climbs, there had been an ascent of the slabby ice fall Letvann a few days before with a couple of photos on the Rjukan/Tinn climbing Facebook group. The approach was hard, over huge sections of boulders usually buried under meters of snow, it wasn’t looking promising. When we arrived we were disappointed to find the majority of the climbs incomplete and those with lower grades extremely thin. Much top our disappointment we made the right decision of leaving it and hiked back out the bridge area before climbing back up to the car park. We met an English couple due to leave the valley for home who had a fairly disappointing trip overall, we compared previous years’ conditions and photos for a while before heading back to the hut.
Desperately wanting to climb now we headed to Ozzimosis, generally a solid bet when conditions are poor. It sits in a small valley just off the road in amongst the trees, always shady with a stable temperature. We had drove by yesterday to see about 8 or so cars and vans parked up so we got up alpine early to beat the crowds. We arrived and had the whole place to ourselves, picking out a WI3 we hadn’t climbed before, I topped out to bring Ella up and prepped a quick abseil back down only to find two other teams right below us. Poor etiquette in my opinion as well as a bit dangerous in the current warmer conditions. We made our descent down through the trees and found a relatively easy way through the trees; an abseil would have been better.
Our last full day in Rjukan we caught the Krossobanen lift up to the trail head and hiked off on the Solstein marked trail to the edge of the Hardangervidda national park, the temp dropped to -16°C out of the wind. After a few hours breaking trail through waist deep snow we made it to a view point, the wind gusting around 30mph making for a temp of around -30°C! still in our down jackets we headed back to the lift, eyebrows frozen. It was our first walk in the area which made a nice change and inspired us for a future trip, perhaps in summer walking hut to hut across the plateau.
Our final day was mainly travel but included a nice stop in Kongsberg. It was the least climbing we’ve ever done in a climbing trip, given the circumstances and our general love of anything Scandinavian it was a great trip, more of a holiday for us which was well needed.