Monday, 19 March 2012
Saturday, 17 March 2012
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
It would have been fine if we'd brought the complete series set of The Wire to watch, but otherwise we'd go barking mad stuck in the cabin for the next 4 days.
Oh well, these things happen.
Tuesday, 13 March 2012
From looking at the wall chart in our cabin, a lot of British names are similar to the Norwegian:
The photo above was taken on the drive back down Spansdalen.
Rich and David have bailed out and gone back to Senja. We thought about decamping to Lyngen but we completed all major objectives we could find there last year, and the forecast for Lyngen is no better anyway.
The plan is to drive to Sweden. If the road is closed we'll have a look at an icefall to the south near Grov.
The last big objective for the trip, Søylafossen, a 4 pitch WI5/6 next to Henrikafossen in Lavangen, may go tomorrow, weather and ice permitting.
Monday, 12 March 2012
Tor Erik had told us there was a gear shop at Sjøvegan so we went to have a look. No joy. So we tried the hardware shop next door, and found this rope.
"Very strong" the store owner said.
Rich, a Mountain Guide, said it reminds him of curtain rope.
So back we came. As we got back to Lavangendalen the weather was improving, but by then we were ready for nothing more than sleep.
Feeling slightly sorry for Rich Cross and David, who drove down from Senja last night to escape the weather there.
This photo shows the state of the ice at the lakeside climb near Sjøvegan yesterday.
Sunday, 11 March 2012
We have been averaging 2 each a day, plus a couple of Norwegian High Energy chocolate bars. That means that in this photo Nick is eating his 20th+ cheese and salami sandwich of the trip so far. He doesn't seem to be losing his appetite for them.
Saturday, 10 March 2012
Four abseils later we were back at our packs, then bum slides took us most of the way to the valley bottom.
We were back in the cabin in good time for tea and a sauna before I start to prep a Thai green chicken curry.
Last night There was a weather warning for much of Norther Norway, for heavy rain/snow early morning, but the weather hasn't materialised. Yet. Oh well, if we are VERY lucky the weather will go pear-shaped on the drive. Then we can turn around and go back to bed.
Friday, 9 March 2012
Tor Erik is the first farmer I have met to have a sauna on his property. The day before yesterday we tried it out. The wood burning stove worked a treat, and after 20 minutes we had to retreat to the relative cool of our cabin and a shower. No plunging into icy lakes for us.
As Nick has already blogged, yesterday was another huge day: over 14 hours between leaving the car and returning to it. The decision to retreat from the ice pillar (towards the top in the photo above) was the right one. Neither of us liked the hollow booming sound it made as Nick tried out his axes on its base. It probably would not have collapsed if Nick had decided to lead it, but "probably" isn't really good enough.
Wednesday, 7 March 2012
I can't afford to be holier than thou about this (much as I might like to). I did the same last trip in heavy snow.
Nick set off walking up the road in search of a farmer with a tractor. He knocked on 3 doors but found no-one home. After about half an hour a passing snow plough stopped and pulled the car back onto the road in a jiffy.
This is going to be a massive day, in a par with Polar Circus or even longer. We are going to spend the rest of day resting, eating and drinking lots before bed at 18:00.
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Walking across the frozen lake I heard a creaking sound and stopped dead, only to realise it was my backpack creaking, not the ice.
Shortly afterwards we saw the tracks of a large animal crossing the lake. Moose?
The ice on the climb was very poor as Nick says. The conversation as Nick climbed went something like this:
Jim: - How's it looking?
Nick: - Eh?
- HOW'S IT LOOKING?
- Can you see somewhere to put an ice screw in?
- You'd better come down then
And he did. Oh well. It was a beautiful place.
Nick's dressing gown has been on the porch for 2 days. Some insects bit him on Senja, and he got it into his head that they've taken up residence in his dressing gown. So he is keeping it outside, as he put it, to "freeze their ***s off". I told him it's no use, they'll only go into hibernation.
Nick has blogged about yesterday's climb: http://nickonice.blogspot.com/2012/03/henrikfossen-snags.html?m=1
Monday, 5 March 2012
We've had another epic day, this time on Henrikfossen, a 6 pitch (normally 6 pitch anyway!) grade 4/5, 10 minutes from the cabin. Nick's going to blog about it so I won't steal his thunder.
By the time we finally got back to the cabin the temperature was -9 degrees and the Northern Lights were on display.
Sunday, 4 March 2012
Usually you are in a beautiful place, with good views, which helps. In summer you can look down from a seacliff and see a seal watching proceedings from the water.
In winter you have to contend with the cold, and often it's windy and snowing too. I find the trick is to focus on small things, like the blue ice in an ice screw hole, or snow-crystals on an ice bulge. You see the world in new ways if you stand in one place for long enough, and look closely.
We've recently woken up from a 10 hour sleep, to find that Yeti (who got back from Sweden yesterday) had torn open the rubbish bag so he could chew up the empty egg boxes inside. I removed the rubbish and took this photo. Butter wouldn't melt.
Thinking back on yesterday it's amazing how quickly the memories of discomfort fade: the epic slog through the snowy pine forest and over snow covered boulders on the beach, the long, cold belays. Already the good parts of the day stand out more: seeing ptarmigan and arctic hare, the view from the snow basin high over the bay as the sun came round the mountain. We wouldn't keep on winter climbing if the memories of it's less comfortable side didn't fade so fast!
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Peaks shaped like great broken teeth guarding the entrance to Ersfjord
An eagle standing on the road, clutching a fish, head in profile watching our approach
White houses in the snow, welcoming lights in all the windows
The smell of fish around Senjahopen harbour
The sky bruised with snow clouds over a gunmetal sea
A seal watching us from the middle of a fjord
The green glow of Aurora Borealis over Mefjordvær village
Walking on seaweed-covered boulders, in snowshoes
Friday, 2 March 2012
The climbs did not inspire so we continued to the end of the road at Torsken before turning round and driving back for coffee at the ICA shop in Senjahopen. On the way, we developed a plan for tomorrow: to have a look (at least) at a WI6 on Finnkona. It will be a very long day whatever happens - which was excuse enough for us to buy the biggest pizza I've ever seen for us to eat when we get back worn out tomorrow night.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present the Grandiosa pizza, weighing in at 1.2kg.
The forecast for tomorrow is perfect for a big day out: -1 degrees, gentle breeze and no precipitation. But we've learned already that the weather here is fickle and there's a fair chance that we will wake up at 4am tomorrow to a howling blizzard. If so we will go back to sleep.