Winter is here

Winter is here
Ron Walker's stunning image of Tamsin, Heather & Rosie on Bellehaven, Fiacaill Buttress (to go to his blog, click on the image above)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

And that was that.

snow chicken - or 'rype' in norwegian

Friday, April 8, 2011

Too warm to climb, too cold to swim?

If you can't climb it, why not swim beneath it? We searched a considerable number of fjords for the perfect spot, and I think we found it.

Pretty, but not for swimming.
Julian sampling the water. This beach was strewn with sea urchins (more than I have ever seen) and coral. The snow round the edges is good for wiping the sand off our feet.
 Lovely, but not the right spot for me. Sorry Jules!
That's more like it. This perfect pier belonged to one house. I knocked on the door and asked permission. The owner came out to shovel a path from the snow around her house.
Essentail preparations of Jules and cod.
Jules never swims without his hat. It makes a big difference.

 Mugs shot.
Not much of a straight line there.

And back into the mountains. This is a viewing platform I think.

Coffee morning with Pearl

Today is going to be a tour day. And a swim day, we hope. The criteria is we need to find a perfect spot - dive spot for me and wade in spot for Jules. I've got my swimmers on already. Fish pie has already been prepared for tonight. I'll see if I can sneak in a climb, but that's going to be tricky - we need to go high (away from swim spot potentials) and really, things need time to cool again.  Hopefully, we'll get a last route in tomorrow.

But it's gone well so far - I've had a lovely coffee morning with Pearl while Jules baked.

 Pearl likes a healthy breakfast & a good coffee
Swim preparations. Very exciting development yesterday, day 13 - nice military man showed me how to display the ambiant temperature in our car. It's been a long, long search. It's 3 degrees today.

Thirteen signs

When things fall on your head it's no longer a sign. It's day thirteen, a day when we tried very, very hard to get to ice. We got to it, but not on it. Today was 'move day', when we'd decided on a little nip up a relatively accessible route before heading over to Senja. But Heinrikkfossen was glittering. Okay, it wasn't glittering, but it faces north, starts pretty high, and looked lovely.

So up we stumbled. A vast amount of snow has gone on this slope. But it was still pretty deep in places, almost as deep as the moss. 

 I love nature.
 The moss battle. Moss wins.
Getting to love the silver birch forests which are everywhere in this country. Mmmm, certainly improve my day (and give me something to pull on).
Destination Heinrikkfossen. Doesn't look it, but this is 7 pitches and I think they'd be quite full ones. I went over to check out the ice first. Then we both went over. Looked like a lot of what would come down, had come down. Put the anchor in. Sheltered us from a sizeable downpour of snow and ice. Low tailed it out of there. I'm familiar with spindrift downpours on Ben Nevis, but this, of course, is a different elements and shapes.

 Low tailing

Back on track for the day, we bundled into the car and started heading to Senja. Except I had a different plan. There are five ice lines not too far from Bardufoss, down the Iselvdalen valley, off Kirkesdalen. So, a few hours later we were at the end of a dirt track. I spoke to a farmer in his tractor, and although he spoke no English I could understand perfectly that he was telling me that the ice lines were falling down, it's hot, they are falling down, etc. We went for a 'look' (= Jules went for a look, I went for other reasons).

They looked doable, but we were now on the opposite side with a very deep gorge between us. To be fair, it was after 6pm and we had a longish drive to Senja before us.
This is where Julian said he'd throw me in the ant heap, what was wrong with me. I tried encouragement (actually, I think I left that one out), plain persuasion, cajoling, bullying, sulking and other stuff. I think he's touched by my enthusiasm.
Arriving back at ever beautiful Senja.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


One hundred and fifty-eight is the number of visits to the blog from Norway, Sweden & Finland!

Today Jules and I finally climbed in Spansdalen, the ice valley of ice valleys. It was quite warm and it did rain a bit, but the views were pretty and the ice was good. We did two lovely routes on the north side of the road. There was evidence (evidence sounds subtle, which this was not) of avalanches and thawing crossing the road and down other gullies.

 Jules peering at our first route of the day.
 Jules on the first pitch of our first route.
 And our second route.
Mad glint of a doodle starved man. Yup, he always looks much like this.
At last, at last: signs of the lesser spotted norwegian climber. This is the first clue we've had (other than the existence of Bent).
Overlooking the avalanche path of the one that released on our first day in the area. There are a lot more now.
The same avalanche debris, at the roadside. Mashed trees, deep snow, but not Julian.
I went for a little drive this evening. This is a very normal view from a very normal house. In Norwegian terms. Room for one more Norway?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

2 coffees, 2 countries, 2 climbs

What a day. Once again, I'm sat on the cafe's porch come balcony. The sky is clear again and the stars are coming out, which given the overcast forecast I'm especially grateful for. Today has been rediculously beautiful. We decided to cross the boarder into Sweden for a few degrees cooler, no rain, and the extravagance of it.

We found some good routes and after a coffee in the glorious snowy sunshine at a mountain lodge we headed back to our favorite route. After that we felt pretty pleased and the weather became so much better than the forecast. On our way home we went to a bridge to get the view of the sinking sun over all the white landscape. From there we spotted some amazing icelines dropping into the fjord. we found a little road that led round the opposite side of the fjord. I even found a man who seemed genuinely sad that he couldn't lend me one of his boats to access the routes (they were in some far off place). we drove on and when I'd found a place to turn so that we could finally head home, there was a beautious flow of ice overlooking the fjord. Poor Jules hadn't a chance. He was ready for home, half starved just about. But I had my crampons on and wasn't about to leave. The route was quick and perfect for an evening jaunt.

Home time (Jules has now been fed and watered. None were harmed during the making of our perfect day).

Mmmm, lovely, big coffee outside in the sunshione in a little Mountain Lodge.

 Sveden does lichen.
Sveden does beautiuful, vast, open landscape, with lots of people out enjoying it - snow mobiles, skis, running, pushing pram, ice fishing. I've not seen a petrol station stocking such a great range of fishing stuff, and furs; but the picamix looks similar.
Very contrasting place to our experiences so far on this trip. Apart from the ice, which is quite similar, maybe a bit mellower. Quite a long walk up - long in minutes rather than metres. As soon as we got out the trees things improved. All our toys remained in our prams, surprisingly.
Jules arriving at the belay.
 The fun we had.
Jules calling the Mrs after our gem of a climb.
Hop and a skip down the hill. 90 minutes up, 15 down.
 X marks the spot. Asked a lady in the most stunning home I might have ever seen if she spoke English. I was picturing myself rowing across the fjord in the dawn light, returning after happy ascents to tea on the jetty. She looked like she would shoot me given a moment longer. Fortunately her cannine sidekick is a lab. despite my gripping fear, jules manfully patted the dog.

 More than deserving of a lift home, poor fella.
 O yeah, road tripping.
 And another cheesey mug shot.

Home sweet home.