Things are going down left and right down here in Spain in a winter season that looks to be one of the best ever in a norwegian sport climbing perspective.
Completely ignoring that however I will stay in retro blogging mode a little while longer while I consider how much to reveal here and what to save for a potential article.
Hannah and I will be talking about the climbing here in Spain and show off a lot of my previously unpublished work after the "Norgescup" comp in Narvik (that Hannah and I are setting the routes for) in february, so if you want to know more, be there :)
So where was I?
Sometime in July, DNT Fjellsport II, Hurrungane, Jotunheimen.
As I mentioned in my last post, this course is a hard one to do as an instructor.
3 out of 5 days are on mountain trips and mixed in with a glacier day there is very little down time to recover.
The days in the mountain are long and with the responsibility for the safety of the group constantly weighing down on your shoulders it is not just my legs that are getting tired.
And yeah, the pay is really bad...
So why did I take this course?
Well I really wasn´t going to, but then my good friend (or maybe not so good?) Bjørn Balle kept trying to talk me into it.
It was the one week in the whole summer I had not signed up to work, and I had planed to use it to train and recover.
DNT offered me "crisis" pay as they (as usual) where desperate, crisis pay still lower then normal pay from Breoppleving (for a much easier course), did however not impress me very much...
What in the end made me change my mind was the opportunity to work with the always funny, Jakob Fink.
With a bad weather forecast for Hurrungane, our first trip brought me (once again) back to the somewhat shielded slightly lower mountains of Smørstabbtindene.
As this course is supposed to a bit higher level then the others (level II not I), we went for half the traverse instead of just Skeia, adding a few more mountains, quite a lot of scrambling, a long rappel and a funky traverse to get all the way from Kalven (2000+) to Bjørneskaret.
The group was fast and the bad weather, somewhat stuck on the peaks of Hurrungane, did not catch up to us before the very end of the day.
We also got unusually lucky, finding gear lost and left behind by clumsy, rich or just generally useless people both on Skeia and on the final traverse.
The total count adding up to a mini traction, some pulleys, some brand new quick draws, a few carabiners, some nuts and two 40 meter half ropes! When it then started snowing it felt very much like christmas :)
Smørstabbtindtraversen to Bjørneskaret
"Climbing up to Skeia (again), the traverse starting just beyond the ridge in the background"
"Christmas? Jakob finding the first "present" of the day"
"Scrambling from Skeia (overhanging thing in the back) towards Veslebjørn"
"The famous traversing rappel between Veslebjørn and Bjørnungen"
"Exiting the "crux" of the traverse, Veslebjørn sticking up above his helmet"
"Jakob finishes up just in time before the blizzard hit us"
Store Skagadølstind via Slingsbybreen
Next up was the big two day trip and with a strong group and fellow instructor, it was time to try something a bit harder.
Norway´s third highest mountain, Store Skagadølstind (2405 meters), requires climbing to summit no matter what angle you choose to attack it from.
It is of course not "hard" climbing, but in a "alpine" environment (in Norwegian standards at least) with lots of weather and good chances for both snow and ice mid summer, it´s still perhaps the most classic norwegian "mountaineering" challenge over a hundred years after the first accent.
The first accent was done by walking around the south side of the mountain and up a glacier to a point called Mohn´s skar (aptly named for the guy who gave up there) and then onsight solo´d by Slingsby from the south east by what is now of course know as the Slingsby route (sandbagged at 2+), something that must have been quite the feat back in the day.
Since then the glacier (also named after Slingsby) has withdrawn quite a bit, leaving some tricky polished slabs riddled with sand and lose rocks, making this route a slightly more serious affair.
In summers with little snow the leap from the glacier to the rock is a major crux on it´s own, but as the guides thought the bridge would be there, we decided to go for it.
With a weather window of one day I decided that ending up close to the emergency/survival hut Skagadølsbu (also known as hytta på bandet), was the best camping option in case it got really bad. Ending up here would also allow us to leave a lot of stuff while passing on the way up, saving us from carrying loads of unnecessary gear all day.
The original route basically follows the normal path up to this survival hut, but where the now common path up the mountain (Heftys and Andrews) keep going up the ridge to a few pitches of climbing near the top, walking around the galleries, up the glacier and into Mohn´s skar is a different matter entirely both in difficulty and in time, a lesson I was about to learn....
"Looking up towards the glacier and the lower part of the south east face after passing the galleries"
Clouds packed with snow then hit us (again) and for a long time we saw no more then 20 meters in front of us, but except for missing out on what is supposed to be a spectacular view, we suffered little and made it to where the glacier ends and the rock/ice/snow of unknown difficulty begins.
"Jakob takes the lead and solo´s up the first of the many pitches of mixed terrain up from the glacier"
The climbing was poorly protected and in a strange mix of terrain. With a big group it was also a slow and cold process that I doubt I will do again (at least without getting considerably better payed..). In the end we did somehow get through, entering Mohn´s just as the clouds lifted.
From there to the top I was once again back in familiar terrain, having climbed the Slingsby route several times before.
Graded (sandbagged) at 2+, this is a tricky one, especially when you add ice and snow in the steeper parts.
"After countless hours of viewless misery, we finally enter Mohn´s skar and receive a quick glimpse of our surroundings"
"Store Skagadølstind and the Slingsby route seen from Mohn´s skar"
"Once again in the clouds, Jakob leads his group up the final bits of climbing"
As I mentioned before, one needs to climb (or be flown) to get to the top, so to get down we naturally had to abseil.
The normal way down is a 50-ish meter long free hanging rappel down to the corner below the normal route (Hefty´s) before a lot of scrambling down to the slabs where another rappel is common.
Since we are trying to teach people something (not just get them up), they do their own rappelling (instead of being lowered), yet another slow and cold process for the instructor.
"My point of view from the abseil point. The glacier hundreds of meters below in the fog to the left"
The rappel tok about two hours as another group got in between some of mine... Then the downclimb from there was icy and slow and on top of that, some guy in another group behind us loosened a big rock that wing clipped poor Jakob...
It was a completely wasted crew that huddled into the emergency hut after 14+ hours up on the mountain. Only one actually slept outside, while the rest of us huddled together inside like the pussy´s that we are.
To save weight I had left comforts like a sleeping bag behind, but thanks to a girl with a large bivybag and some body heat to spare, I did not suffer.
The next day we woke inside a cloud to a cold mix of rain, snow and wind.
The plan to climb up southern Dyrhaugstind (4-5 pitches) and then traverse the ridge out got voted of the island and we ended up taking the easy way back down to basecamp for a well deserved hot shower, cold beer and chilling instead.
"Jakob infront of Hurrungane, Skagadølstindene above him, Dyrhaugsryggen above the kayaks, the hut we slept in is somewhere on the ridge in the sun above his head"
Early August, Klatrekurs i Lom og Hurrungane, Breoppleving
After the Fjellsport II course I finally got two much needed rest days back home in Sogndal.
The two days went by way to fast, and not really feeling rested at all, I once again found myself back on the other side of the mountain in Lom for my last (planned) course of the season.
I like to show up a bit early, dressed like a "civilian", and just hang out and see what sort of people show up.
If possible I don´t give away that I´m the instructor before everyone is there awkwardly looking around, at their watches and at each other.
As usual the "beginners" showed up, did their awkward aimless look around, but for some reason no other instructor arrived...
With a fully booked course this is a problem.
The first night is more of a meet and greet, look over the gear, plan the next day and so on. Basically a fairly easy job to solo.
Going up to climb in the mountains alone with 6 people on the other hand, thats a different ballgame altogether... A ballgame I will not risk playing, knowing full well that my highly skilled friend Arne Moe died from it when someone was unlucky enough to drop the ball...
After some phone calls the misunderstanding was complete. The other instructor had somehow forgotten he was supposed to work and was now several days from civilisation somewhere on a mountain further north...
Breoppleving did how ever not leave me hanging, and Mathias filled in for the first trip where we repeated the exposed traverse between Veslebjørn and Bjørnungen in Smørstabbtindene, this time without me bringing the camera...
For the last trip they hooked me up with fellow "Sogndøling" and newly qualified instructor Sander for another great trip over Dyrhaugsryggen from the south in the best weather of the season.
Unfortunately I´d gotten something on the sensor of my camera some time before this, and after a few failed self cleaning attempts, it was now showing clearly on all my shots.. The following are some of those I manage to partly rescue/photoshop clean a bit.
"Dyrhaugsryggen to the right, the climbing is in the steep left facing wall on the ridge"
"Some walking around, Store Skagadølstind up to the right"
"Looking down Midtmaradalen, Store Midtmaradalstind sticking up above the clouds"
"Almost at the foot of the climbing"
"First belay and a great view down towards Store Midtmaradalstind"
"Sanders team reaching the second belay, another great view towards Skagadølstindene"
"Sander leads off on to the exposed traverse of the optional third pitch"
I had some unusually skilled "beginners" on this course, and since the weather was so nice, I decided to test letting two of them lead a pitch each.
I lead up first to have a rescue/photo rope in place, and finally got some shots of these very photogenic pitches I´v been wanting for quite some time now. (copyrighted of course even thought my usual copyright marking in picture for some reason isn´t working...)
"The direct version of pitch three, grade 4-ish"
"Exiting the crux, Store Skagadølstind in the background"
"Pitch 4, here as pitch 5 as I choose to split the pitch in two"
"The final belay at the top of pitch 5"
After the climbing loads of up and down scrambling on the ridge follow´s (graded 2-ish), before reaching the northern peak and not so exposed walking back down to Turtagrø.
"And then it was over, Dyrhaugsryggen behind us on the right"
"Easy return in the snow"
After getting down from a successful trip in Hurrungane, I have a tradition of getting my group to jump into the natural pool down by Turtagrø.
The water, directly from the melting snow in the mountains, is either cold or really cold, something I of course never tell people before I get them to jump in.
"Sander making a leap of faith"
My mountain summer did not really end here as I went on to instruct on 50% of a glacier instructor course as well, (got no pic´s of that though as it rained the whole time), but as I was taking pictures at "The Battle" in Lillehammer the same weekend, I could not stay for the whole thing.
My photo gallery from "The Battle" will be up next, stay tuned and feel free to comment!