Surprisingly for us all we woke to rain today...but this didn't dampen our motivation to get out especially seeing as this was Ed. and Johns last day in Rjukan.
With the temperatures hovering around 2 degrees in the town it seemed obvious to head up the hill and into Krokan again so that we could complete some of the routes we didn't manage to get done the other day. Great plan...however, every ice climber in Rjukan also had the same idea. The rain was now falling as snow and pretty much continued through the day.
As a team we walked in and turned left on the track to find almost every route had someone on them...slightly more annoying was the fact a lot of these were top ropes. At the far end Dean and I left John and Ed. to get on with 'sorting Johns head out' while we went all the way back to the far right to see if there was anything free that we hadn't already done. Unfortunately, there wasn't! So back to the middle area where a few days prior Dean and I had spotted a route up a steep column to the right of Gaustaspokelse...This wasn't really what we wanted to warm up on but we were running out of choices. Dean led the whole route well climbing two steepening columns with bullet hard ice on the top one just where you didn't want it. I'm having difficulty distinguishing between Deans 'I'm cool' face to his 'Holy shit this is F*#@ing steep' face! Unnamed in the guide book we reckoned on a grade of top end WI5...my forearms confirmed this!
As we were in the immediate area and were actually joining queues we decided to do Gaustaspokelse WI4 next which had a lot of water running down it the other day but today looked to be in great condition. I quickly ran up this and we'll not mention the 'nearly' dropping of the ice screw :-). Ed. decided he was going to join Dean on this route so I brought them both up in parallel, both taking slightly different lines to each other.
Following a brew and a bite to eat Dean had spotted a mixed route he was keen to give a go, De Kaller Meg Fjard graded M7. This route follows a rock corner with three bolt anchors to the right of Topp, the large sheet ice route next door. The lower section was definitely the crux with Dean slowly gaining height with every contortion, eventually being able to slam his picks into the flat ledge of ice at the base of the steep column above...The next move he made wasn't quite as stylish and resembled a wallowing whale as he pulled himself to safety. The upper section of ice was a pure pleasure still steep and with enough interest to focus the mind. Once I had seconded and cleaned the route Ed. asked for a rope on Topp (shared belay) which give him very little in the way of difficulty. A nice couple of lines to finish his trip on.
After the snowy drive back down the valley we stopped of for the now traditional coffee and cake a small treat for the effort put into the day.
A big thanks to John today who took most of the photos....and not a bad job!!!
Conditions: ALL routes at Krokan were getting done and with a little drop in temperatures, even the the icicle in the Lucky Lisa area would be do-able from the ground up. The only inconvenience really is the depth of snow at the top of some routes.