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

Thursday, 10 March 2011


Toby, Jody and Earendel left this morning for Spansdalen. We enjoyed having them stay. (Earendel didn't actually stay with us - he camped down by the fjord. Hardy!)

While they were trying to fit all their stuff into Earendel's VW, Nick and I left and drove back to Signaldalen. We parked where the road crosses the river and set off to walk in to what looked like a good steep climb with a long pillar on the north side of the valley. On the approach we had to skirt up the sides of the gully to avoid big holes in the ice full of water from the stream. The sun was out for a change. The only sounds were of running water and our snowshoes breaking through the snow crust as we plodded upward.

I led the first easy pitch up a couple of steps, then waded through deep snow up to the base of the main pillar and belayed. Nick then set off to climb the main event, a slightly off-vertical 30m pillar, as I held the ropes gloveless in the warm sunshine.

A drawback of the warmth and sun was that the pillar was streaming water, and the ice wasn't great for placing ice screws. Nick shouted with relief when eventually he was able to place a good screw. He was drenched by the time he arrived at the belay, and shouted down to advise wearing my waterproof shell when I followed.

From the belay at the top of the pillar I struggled on upwards through waist deep snow until we were on an easy-enough angled slope to put on the snowshoes and bag the ropes. There followed an epic descent through trees, the snowcrust holding our weight sometimes but more often breaking so we sank to our knees or deeper.

Finally we reached a track and a man approached on a skidoo. He was curious as to what we were up to. When Nick told him he said, "that's a little bit crazy".

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