Last night we said good bye to our friends from last year Jen and Dan...The usual chat, craic and drink made the time go very quick reliving tales of old.
After yesterdays snow that prevented us from climbing it was nice to get back on it again today. Vemork Bridge was our destination and we certainly were not disappointed in our decisions. The bridge is the only access into the Norske Hydro plant ('Norsk Hydro Rjukan is an industrial facility operated by Norsk Hydro at Rjukan in Tinn, Norway, from 1911 to 1991. The plant manufactured chemicals related to the production of fertilizer, including ammonia, potassium nitrate, heavy water and hydrogen. The location was chosen for its vicinity to hydroelectric power plants built in the Måna river.
30 million tonnes of products, equivalent of 1.5 million wagon loads, were produced in Rjukan'. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Last year we we had a horrid day there with temperatures of minus fifteen degrees and wind chill bringing the temperatures well below minus twenty. Only Dean was motivated that day and climbed the worst, most frightening, plastic sounding route I've ever done. Also we had planned to do Vemorkbrufoss Vest WI5 but as we kitted up we suddenly realised that 'someone' had opened a sluice gate and released water over the top of the route and us....Today was different....we were all well up for it and we got straight on with the afore mentioned route...Dean leading the first pitch in fine style following a 73 year old woman from Carlisle. Dean was chatting her up on the first belay stance and found out she only started climbing when she was 56 years old and actually did her first ice climb at 66 years...There is hope for everyone. The top pitch (my lead) gradually increased with steepness but also became a little stepped out...quality position though. Ed. led the whole route in a oner and rapped back down to collect the screws John had refused to collect :-).
Following this we went a little further down and round the corner to Vemorkbrufoss Ost WI4 another route we wanted to do last year but were put off by the weird impenetrable ice. Today it was in good nick. Dean led the first pitch again with first time placements and hooks to hook ye Granny on. Two other parties were able to climb alternative lines at the same time, making a very sociable outing. At the first belay we changed leads allowing me to cut loose on a steep column rising up above us...with one more steep section I arrived at the deep snow at the top...sweating!!!
At the top we abseiled down to help Ed and John with their shenanigans before doing the steep hike out back to the car.
The usual cafe stop was nearly a fail...our usual cafe was closed...Saturday!!! However, we had another on the main road up our sleeve and we were not disappointed! A quick shop for the ingredients for tonight's tea (my turn with broccoli chicken pasta.
I'm not sure we should mention this but we just finished our fourth bottle of whisky not including my hip flask I brought. The only difference in the party make up this year is John....How say you John??? lol
Conditions: Correction from yesterday, we saw people descending from Fabrikkfossen when Ed and I went for a little jaunt around Rjukan at about 5pm...Crazy! Today the ice was not in any way bullet hard, more chewy but as you would expect allowed for first-time placements and the screws were good where you needed them. Two quality routes today that should be on anyone's tick list. Temperatures around zero / -1.