Following the comments from lots of people this week and over the past few weeks about the difficulties, the team decided to try and see what all the fuss was about and drop into my favourite ice climbing venue here in Rjukan, The Lower Gorge! I think a little knowledge here is useful even starting from the right place helps a lot!! A few kilometres out of town there is a large parking area overlooking the very lower end of the Lower Gorge...This is not the best place....driving on a further kilometre there is a small parking place, usually big enough to get two cars in...this time only ours fit. This parking place puts you straight onto the descent into the Gorge directly opposite Lillebror, a very long single pitch ice route of WI3.
Many people had been telling us the river crossing, which we needed to negotiate to get to the routes, was ‘impossible to cross’. However, with a bit of care it was achieved today safely....if not with a flying dive to ensure as much weight (I have a lot) was distributed over the heavily snowed up river rocks.
Once ensconced on the other side Dean led up Lillebror which proved to be completely different from last years outing and certainly steeper than it looked from below. I think this is half the attraction of ice climbing, especially here in Rjukan, the routes are different every year depending on the process the routes have undertaken to form. The route had some snow on it making the footholds (crampon placements) difficult to spor or confirm their security. Ed decided to take a Unnamed line just left of Deans line giving a good WI3 for him and John.
Following this we moved a little further down the river to two great lines. I led up the classic Hjemreisen WI4 which was a tad fragile in places with ‘interesting’ screw placements. Dean then led up a even steeper line to the right of this (unnamed) giving a quality outing at the top end WI4...Meanwhile Ed led Hjemreisen in great style and prepared to bring John up. John, for those that have been following this Blog, is on his first Ice trip and in fact his first ‘anything wintery’ trip. John has the usual mental battle going on at the moment even though his skills have come on a treat. After climbing the initial steep bits he decided enough was enough as he reached the upper steep section....rather reluctantly Ed lowered him...We give him stick later just to show our support of a fellow team member J.
After the long deep snow climb out of the Gorge everyone was in agreement that a trip to the cafe was in order...Konditori cakes are phenomenal and the custard slice would beat Greggs any day!!!
Conditions: Description above basically covers it ...Park in the right area and you can easily get to the routes...The surface ice on the routes was getting a little slushy (+4 degrees on my Needle Sports thermometer) by the end of play making climbing easier but screw placements a tad dodgy! The river crossing is ‘FUN’.