'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Rjukan Day 6- Back to the Lower Gorge...........Last Day of Climbing in Rjukan


Slow out of bed, huge amounts of coffee and bacon this morning, I think the week of Norway ice is taking its toll on all of us (Ed. the old boys are giving the youngins a run for their money though eh Richy? ;-)). Minus 13 degrees Celsius on the thermometer this morning didn’t help with the aches, pains and tiredness. The lower gorge was to be our last day climbing in Rjukan. After a short drive up the valley we were soon committed into our biggest and best abseil of the trip (50+ meters free hanging) into the gorge and directly to the foot of our chosen routes.

While Dean set off to climb Swiss Army (WI 4/5**) Cliff took the lead on the very long Pentium (WI3*) to warm both his body and head. A good route which was fat with good ice, albeit a little wet in places. After a speedy second by myself we were soon down and coiling ropes ready for my lead. As I walked around to where Dean and Ed were climbing the very impressive Swiss Army came into view, Dean had already lead the left hand variant so that left me with the right hand side (WI4**) begging to be climbed. As I racked up I could not help but feel a little nervous as I knew this would be my ‘lead’ of the trip. Four ice screws in and I was into the thick of the route with a couple of short steep sections before the impressive and very steep slab above, which normally does not form ice. Pulling myself up onto the slab left me with two ice screws, a daunting thought with the slab towering above me still to climb. Luckily the ice on this section of the route was good almost perfect with one swing placements of my axes and crampons. A number of moves later and with my last screw in place it was time for the run out to the top, an amazing feeling and a route I will never forget. A big thank you to Cliff for holding my ropes and of courses his many words of wisdom!!  (Ed. J)

This was to be my last lead of the trip as I was more than happy to leave on a high. With my adrenalin still running we trudged down the valley to another route ( Hjemreisen (WI4***)) THAT Dean had eyed up a coupe of days previously. It was here that Cliff had ‘the great’ idea of a speed climbing competition, top roping a short section (15 meters) of ice. This proved to be hard as both axe and crampon placements needed to be perfect first time every time. A good effort by all especially Dean who won the race at 33 secconds. Ulei Steck eat your heart out : ) . (Ed. I’ll get him next year J)

Dean now warm he moved onto his route an amazing looking line with a steep head wall.......good work mate : ) a good steady and inspiring lead.

After losing my feet through the “frozen” river I decided to call it a day to trudge up the side of the gorge back to the car to warm through, while Cliff and Dean climbed another couple of routes to finish off. Even after 6 hours in the warm and dry my big toes still have no feeling making walking in my stiff boots (Ed. Who’s boots?) hard and painful (That will teach me I suppose). All in all we have had an amazing weeks climbing with amazing conditions rarely experienced in Norway. Lets see what next year’s trip brings.

(Ed. Last night we invited our neighbours in the cabin opposite (Jen and Dan, remember them from the first blog? hahaha) in for a drink as we had spoken to them a few times during the week and thought they might enjoy a spot of chatter and a bit of a social.  They were kind enough to bring a huge bag of chocolate as they were returning to the UK this morning.  I would just like to say guys we have demolished the whole bag, and no Jen it wasn’t just me (Cliff)...honest ;-) lol.

Writern by Richy Reed. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Rjukan Day 5 - Perspex Ice and Ballsey Leads

The lead of the trip from Dean today... but this blog does contain a video of an ice climber expressing his feelings :-)

-11 on the car thermometer this morning (no clothes removal today ;-)) and considerably colder in the Vemork Bridge area...even the big belay jackets weren’t really warm enough.  Richy and I were happy to go with the flow today...secretly I think we are tired but can’t let it show to the Cheshire boys ;-).  Dean and Ed had their eyes on the huge Vemorkbrufoss Vest a WI5 which they had seen the year previously.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending how you see it, as we were walking past water started to run, actually gush, down the whole route making climbing it out of the question.

The low temperatures overnight and the relatively mild conditions experienced the previous few days had combined to make the ice rock hard and took on the consistency of thick Perspex.  This makes climbing these routes a little sketchy along with this in certain areas the locals (supported by the tourism board) have turned this part of the gorge into an ‘Ice Park’, expanding the amount of steep ice available to climb.  So Dean, unperturbed by these conditions decides to lead a lovely looking line up the centre of some of this new ice.  What a lead it turned out to be and only really appreciated by those who followed him up it.  Sketchy hooks (normally bomb proof) did not inspire confidence and that combined with the bobbley ice generally made ascent very scary indeed. The ramps which normally bring relief for the calf muscles turned out to be hollow and vibrated every time an axe or crampon was placed as if it was completely detached from the rock below it.  Scary even on the top rope but unthinkable for the leader...Dean is my current HERO!!!!  What a boy!

For anyone who has ever had the ‘Hot Aches’ (rapid warming of the hands after being very cold) I had the worst case ever at the top of the above mentioned route (no tears though Craig ;-)...just!) ...These can be so painful (as they were today) that you are unable to do anything and you rely on your ‘friends’ to help you...However, when you are in most need they tend to laugh behind your back and take sly videos of you suffering...of course being away with a group of ‘macho’ men I shouldn’t have expected anything less.  ‘What goes around comes around’!!!  J

We soon escaped from the climbing and headed into town to ‘lick our wounds’ in the fabulous local patisserie and do some reconnaissance for possible future Roxcool trips to the valley. Following this we headed up to the Osmosis area for a quick look and a little play (soloing) on the ice.  The routes here were steep but full of huge hooks which you could haul ye ass up on with no problems.

Ed is currently in the kitchen area concocting some dish for our tea with the remainders of our food, Richy is chilled next to me playing Solitaire on his phone and Dean having just come out of a cold shower (Richy spent a long time in there for some reason ;-)) is surfing the net to see if people are ‘liking’ our blogs J
Last day climbing tomorrow and the plan is currently to go into the Lower Gorge area again.

Cliff signing out.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Rjukan Day 4 – Exposure in the Lower Gorge

Tired bodies this morning due to the rest day antics (see previous Blog) dragged themselves out of the motor this morning and descended into the Lower Gorge area for another day of ice frolics. Having not been to Rjukan before (cliff and Richy) everyday is an exciting adventure for us and having the BETA from Ed and Dean has meant less messing around and more climbing. 

The routes in the Lower Gorge, like the current conditions across the whole of Rjukan, were ‘fat’ with perfect ice, albeit making them slightly harder due to them forming more vertically.  Richy and me started on the lovely named route Skrotfossen WI3, with Richy on the lead, he made very little work of this ramp route.  We then moved onto Camillas Foss WI3 *** which Dean had led his Dad up only minutes earlier.  The route deserves its 3 star status especially in its current state...’FAT’.  While we were on Camillas Foss Ed. was leading Dean up another route not found in the guide graded around WI4...a lovely ramp which was easily soloed to get to a very steep amphitheater.

Following these routes we made our way slowly down the gorge to the ‘Swiss Army ‘section which did not resemble the guide book picture at all... ‘REALLY FAT’!  Dean had his sights on the previously mentioned route, unfortunately the Spaniards Richy and me had befriended yesterday were ensconced and looked set to make a day of it.  One of the Spanish guys pointed us further down the Gorge to what he explained was ‘Mucho hielo (lots of ice)...he was not wrong!

We arrived at the foot of Lillebror * WI3 to find that the ice had taken on an enormous form giving many options of routes at WI4 and up to 45/50 meters in height.  Dean and me took the lead and lead the routes together at the same time...this was fun but I think Dean wasn’t impressed with my lack of conversation (I was concentrating J)...However, this was justified when Dean dropped an ice screw up near the top...young boys error ;-) lol.  The routes were excellent and both Dean and myself agreed we didn't want them to end.

Richy was feeling a little ropey today and was keen to get back to the digs but for some reason mentioned about my penchant to get naked in certain climbing didn’t take much persuasion to get my kit off and pose for the cameras...while making Ed a little uncomfortable. If anyone can remember walnut whips you’ll know what I’m talking about and how cold it really was ;-) hahahahaha.

Back at our cabin Richy has just served an awesome chicken curry with rice and bread...and now everyone is settling down to our usual search for internet signal and a couple of single malt whiskeys.

No plans for tomorrow yet but where ever we go I’m sure the ice will be FAT!!!  J

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