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

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Day 4 - Lærdalen

Inspired by the lines we saw yesterday in the upper valley on our way back from Hemsedal, today we went in search of Lærdal ice.
We left the E16 after Seltuntunnelen and followed the valley bottom by the old Lærdal road. The ice at Hoggeberg was disappointing so we drove on, up past an ancient wooden (stave) church at Borgund and on again to beyond the junction with the Hemsedal road. Ulvisfossen was looking good in the colder air of the plateau (-6C) but we just added that climb to our growing list before heading back down to the mid-valley to try Seltunfossen, a WI4+ we'd spotted yesterday on the south side of the valley.
Seltunfossen WI4+

 The walk-in was mercifully short and was followed by 4-5 easy approach pitches leading to the main event, 3 good wide pitches of steep ice. 

The start of the steep stuff

As we were gearing up to start the steeper climbing I realised I'd forgotten to bring up the second rope. Aaaaarrgh!! Nick decided to climb anyway on one rope and I followed up, cursing my stupidity. The prospect of abseiling back down some 8 pitches with just one 60m rope didn't fill us with glee either.
But slowly the pleasure of the climbing took over. The ice was plastic, our axes were sticking well and we both relaxed into the climbing for the first time this trip. Less tension, no over-gripping, no pump. At the top we decided to try descending through the trees out to the side of the icefall. This proved a good decision and after a long, mossy descent and 3 short simul-abseils we got back to our packs at 5pm, 7 hours after leaving them. Not bad, all things considered.

Not sure what the helicopter was up to

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