We were so keen to find some good ice that we set our alarms for very early, so early in fact that we found ourselves entering Hemsedal, after a drive of an hour and a half.
|A dreamlike cavern in the 25km road tunnel between Aurland and Lærdal, on the way to Hemsedal|
Initial impressions of Hemsedal was that the ice wasn't as plentiful as in other valleys, but as we searched we found some options. We opted for a couple of easily accessible single pitch WI4 climbs just east of the E16 behind Hemsedal Sentrum, Haugsfossen and Indre Haugsfoss. Nice climbing, particularly Haugsfossen, and I finally felt my climbing beginning to flow.
It was odd seeing another team on the ice there - we've been spoiled by the two 3-week trips in the North, where didn't bump into any other climbers.
Hemsedal feels completely different, unsurprisingly as it's a major winter sports destination within striking distance from Olso. A Ski resort requires hotels, gear shops and cafés. But I'm not complaining: it was a change, we did some good climbing and we identified destinations for another 3 days, including a massive icefall called Hydnefossen which, if we manage to climb it, will probably be the highlight of the trip: 160m of vertical WI5, a great wide curtain of ice with a beast of a walk-in.
On the way back we spotted big lines in upper Lærdalen, too. So things are looking up.