"A word on the spot is worth a cartload of recollections"
James Maggs, Southwold diarist 1797-1890

Monday, 28 February 2011

Day 2

We woke up to find it snowing and quite windy. Nick is feeling much better, but we've decided not to climb today. We drove south for 25km to meet Kjetil, a forester, park ranger and mountain rescue volunteer who works at the nicest municipal offices I've ever seen anywhere. He gave us coffee and biscuits in his bright, new office, then we got the maps out. He marked up the locations of quite a few climbs, enough to keep us going for at least a week, and gave us tips on climbing venues for different weather conditions. He also put us in contact with another keen climber. There is no climbing guidebook for this area of the far north, so we are very grateful for his help.

On the way back Nick discovered that the rental car we've been driving in for 2 days has 4 doors. He'd thought it had 2.

Here's a clip from yesterday.

Northern Norway - 27 Feb 2011 (day 2) from Jim on Vimeo.

Arrival and Day 1 - Kafjord

We touched down at Tromso mid-afternoon on Saturday. Stein-Are, the son of the owner of the place we are staying, met us at the airport then kindly showed us the way to a supermarket. Food shopping in a foreign country when hungry and dazed from lack of sleep is not ideal. We ended up with a trolley half-full of Norwegian snacks and hardly any fruit and veg.

We left Tromso in the wet and dark and drove for a couple of hours to Skibotn. At Strandbu Camping, Stein-Are's dad met us and showed us the cabin. It's perfect: warm (with a wood-burning stove!) and has a good shower. No freezer compartment to the fridge though, so Nick buried 2kg of frozen chicken in the snow at the side of the cabin.

Woke on Sunday morning to find a magpie trying to dig out the bag of frozen chicken from the snow. The view from the cabin's porch is out over Skibotn river as it bends towards Lyngen Fjord. It's amazingly still and quiet here after London.

After breakfast we drove north up Lyngen Fjord, scouting for ice. Turning right at Birtavarre into a valley away from the fjord, we soon saw a couple of fine-looking icefalls on the right.

We turned round and drove back to a turning and small road which took us over a river and to a parking place 150m from the bottom of the route.
We tried out the snowshoes for first time on the walk to the route. Easy.

The climb we chose (the longer one to the right in the above photo) turned out to be a 240m WI3/4, of 5 pitches. Both of us found it easy climbing technically but it was hard work. I'm not as fit as I could be, and Nick, though fit, wasn't feeling 100% well. By the time we abseiled off (5 abolokovs) and got back to the car, Nick was feeling completely drained.

Arriving back at the cabin we had a visit from Stein-Are's dad and his daughter. I like him - keen-eyed and quick to smile. The purpose of their visit was to put us in touch with a local ice climber who works in the Town Hall 25km south of Skibotn. They rang him and sorted out a meeting for the next morning. Very kind!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Do you sell slippers?

I forgot to pack slippers. As everyone knows slippers are essential kit for a climbing trip, so I scoured the shops in Gatwick airport for some.
"Do you sell slippers?" I asked the lady in Next.
"Er no. And you may have trouble finding slippers in a departure lounge"

Friday, 25 February 2011

Weather obsession

Nick and I are becoming weather nerds, checking the excellent Norwegian MET office site every day to pore obsessively over forecast charts for northern Norway. After a longish period with temperatures around -8C and little snow it looks to be warming up a bit over the next few days, with some snow on the way.

You may not be interested but we are. Very.
We fly tomorrow, hurrah.