Sunday, 31 January 2010

Bølgen (WI3), Rjukan

Bølgen, the classic three star WI3, seemed an excellent route for our first full day in Rjukan. Nothing too taxing but good climbing nonetheless. Things didn't start well. First we had to drive back to the guest house to pick up my axes, which I had left, then we stuck the car in road side deep snow whilst letting another pass. Fortunately everybody in Norway seems to carry a tow rope so we were quickly on our way.

Climbing was steady and enjoyable with good views to the valley below. The guidebook stated four pitches but with four full 60m pitches already dispatched we were still yet to climb the crux wall, which now loomed ahead. It was my lead. With little water ice experience prior to this trip the pitch was just the right difficulty to test my ability. Once above the difficulties I climbed a little further before concluding we were now at the top of the route. By the time we had abseiled back down the route it was dark. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day and a good benchmark for the rest of the trip.

Me leading the first pitch
(Photo by Stewart Young)
View of the valley from the top of the first pitch
Stewart seconding the first pitch
Me leading the crux pitch - our fifth pitch
(Photo by Stewart Young)
Stewart abseiling down the final pitch

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Last Post (V,5), Creag Meagaidh - My first Scottish V

With routes reportedly in condition at Creag Meagaidh James and me went to investigate. The morning didn't start well when we succumbed to a flat tire in the car park, which we changed before starting the trek into the coire. Our late departure of 9.45am from the car park was at least compensated by excellent conditions on the trail, the walk-in taking only 1 hour 45 minutes.  

The walk-in (Last Post pictured left)
The temperature was maybe a couple of degrees above freezing today but Last Post looked in excellent condition. The cloud was low and a strong wind was scouring the Inner Coire. Neither of us had climbed a grade V but Last Post looked irresistible and so today seemed as good as any for a first attempt. The only other team in the vicinity had headed into the Inner Coire and so we had the Post Face to ourselves. 

Climbing Easy Gully to Last Post
James was keen to lead the first pitch, I had no objections to. It looked a classic. James steadily dispatched it and now it was my turn. The climbing was sustained but never overly difficult. The ice was wet but placements secure. Regardless of this I was little gripped due to being on unfamiliar terrain and with little practice at handling screws on steep ground.
James leading the first pitch of Last Post
By the time I reached James it was after 3pm. The first pitch had between us taken two hours to complete. Three pitches remained with only a couple of hours daylight remaining. With main difficulties overcome we were keen to push on and confident that the remaining climbing could be boxed off fairly quickly. The second pitch offered some brief difficulties, as did the third before the fourth pitch followed easy ground to the top. We reached the plateau shortly before 5pm, took a few photos and then quickly descended Easy Gully.