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

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The cathedral climb

We got up at 05:30 feeling refreshed from our rest day and lots of sleep. The plan was to climb an icefall high on the escarpment by Kvalvik, and we were expecting a long, steep approach. In the event the approach wasn't as tough as expected - we reached the ice in an hour and a half. We could have slept in!
There was evidence of another climbing party before us: snowshoe tracks on the approach and V-threads in the ice. But in 16 days we still haven't seen any other climbers.

The icefall is about 30m wide at its base, tapering with height. The first 2 pitches gave excellent climbing past some strange ice formations:

Here's Nick belayed in an ice cave at the top of the 2nd pitch.

Exiting the cave and climbing up past it was scary. The ice was chandeliered and so didn't offer Nick any icescrew placements for a good few metres. It involved stepping up on small mushroom formations which didn't feel too secure either. It was another impressive lead by Nick. Further up the 3rd pitch Nick's axe broke through to the stream running underneath, which burst out and poured down the ice - and onto me as I followed.

It was another fine climb, a 170m WI4+/WI5. Approaching the top:

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