Chamonix CC & Birthday Skiing

Last week we were visiting Chamonix for a week of winter sports. We weren’t sure the skiing would be up to much as this year as there has been very little snow. So we had prepared for what might be ideal alpine winter climbing conditions. However, as it turned out there was a large dump of snow over the first weekend of our trip, and there is nothing that beats skiing fresh powder! More “Chamonix CC & Birthday Skiing”

Rjukan Ice Climbing Meet, 2016

Introduction

After some indecision Joe finally agreed to go on this year’s Climbers’ Club meet (held jointly with the AC) to Rjukan in Norway. The late decision worked in our favour though as perhaps strangely and unusually the cost of the Ryan Air flights to Oslo (Torp) had dropped a great deal. This combined with sharing a car with Lindsay and Sue made for a pretty cheap week of ice climbing fun in the famous frozen Rjukan gorge.

However, not having our own car did lead to a fair few compromises on venue choice, plus a number of interesting and fun lifts from others on the meet and kind locals who dropped us back in town after a day on the ice. Although we did manage a lift everyday it is certainly easier to have your own transport!

Rjukan’s ice climbing is near to the Vermork power plant, which was the only place in Nazi occupied Europe readily producing heavy-water and thus supported the German research effort into creating a nuclear bomb during World War II. The sabotage of the plant was the basis of the classic WWII film – The Heroes of Telemark.

Below I have highlighted a few pictures from our ace trip with a brief account of each day’s adventures at these locations…

Venues

1.markerworld-linkOzzimosis
2.markerworld-linkLower Gorge
3.markerworld-linkVermork Bridge
4.markerworld-linkKrokan
5.markerworld-linkUpper Gorge
6.markerworld-linkMael

Day 1: Ozzimosis

Our first day was at the Ozzimosis area – and easy single pitch venue to remind the muscles how ice climbing works. Although I spent my time selecting the most tricky pieces of climbable ice I could see…

Climbing an ice pillar not described in the guidebook
Climbing an ice pillar not described in the guidebook (photo Colin Knowles)

Day 2: Lower Gorge

Although the Lower Gorge is another single pitch venue it does offer a much larger number of routes.

The view from the Lower Gorge area down the Rjukan valley with the Gaustablikk ski area's pistes just visible
The view from the Lower Gorge area down the Rjukan valley with the Gaustablikk ski area’s pistes just visible (photo Joe Gittins)

Day 3: Vermork Bridge

We were stumped for a ride on our third day, no one seemed to be going our way or have space left in their car. Luckily Gary offered to run us up to Vermork Bridge. Amazingly he also came and collected us at the agreed time of 5pm. What a superb team effort – a real champion. 😀

Climbing the steepest line on the classic and easily accessed Vermorkbrufossen Vest
Climbing the steepest line on the classic and easily accessed Vermorkbrufossen Vest (photo Joe Gittins)

Day 4: Krokan

Joe (in blue) below Kjøkkentrappa packing up to leave the Krokan area
Joe (in blue) below Kjøkkentrappa packing up to leave the Krokan area

We had struck out on attaining a ride home from the Krokan area but luckily we blagged a lift with a Norwegian couple who were looking to leave just as we were. They dropped us off at the cable car station just outside town before they headed off up to the Hardangervidda for a hut-to-hut ski tour.

Day 5: Upper Gorge

The ultra classic Sabotørfossen
The ultra classic Sabotørfossen (photo Joe Gittins)
Joe walking out from the Upper Gorge
Joe walking out from the Upper Gorge

We bumped in to Jack and Nick who had just finished Rjukanfossen as we topped out on Verdens Ende. Walking out to the road together Jack and Nick were met by Gary and Chris for their arranged ride back to town. What a tease, they had a lift home, while Joe and I only had a very long walk to look forward to! But again our champion Gary came to the rescue and we managed to cram all six of us and our gear in to their super small VW Polo hire car. It wasn’t a comfortable ride, but it was a ride, and for that we were massively grateful. Plus of course it was a laugh squeezing everyone in to the tiny car. Especially so for Chris as she laid across the laps of us three lads sat in the back seat!

How to get six climbers and gear in to a small hire car!
How to get six climbers and gear in to a small hire car!
L to R: Jack, Joe, Pete, Chris’ hand, Nick, and Gary driving

Day 6: Mael & Vermork Bridge

On mine and Joe’s last day we went out to take a look at the Mael area with Steve and Chris. It was quite a long walk to the venue. And then we were faced with an uncertain abseil approach, a lot of bush whacking, and what looked from above like heavily snow covered climbs. We retreated. (Later we learned from Jack and Nick, who had walked in a little earlier than us, that this was likely a good decision – they got back very late and very knackered, and reported that the routes were indeed very snowy and hardly worth the effort.)

With half the day gone we opted to rush back to the Upper Gorge from Vermork Bridge, this being our best option to get to classic routes with an easy approach.

The Upper Gorge with Nye Vermorkfoss clearly visible below the heavy-water plant (now a museum)
The Upper Gorge with Nye Vermorkfoss clearly visible below the heavy-water plant – now a museum (photo Laetitia Sterling)

rjukan

Accommodation

Special thanks needs to be called out for Smiler and Peri who organised the meet. Thanks guys! It must be tough organising the accommodation at the very comfortable Rjukan GjestegÃ¥rd. On my previous trips to Rjukan I’ve stayed at the cabins at Rjukan Hytteby. However, this guest house is much better. They allowed us to use their kitchen in the evenings to cook our dinners, provided a nice breakfast, and included supplies at breakfast to make our own packed lunches for our days out on the ice. Plus they even made their facilities and projector available for me to give a presentation on Canadian ice climbing.

The title picture from AC Canadian Ice presentation from 2015
The title picture from my AC Canadian Ice presentation from 2015

Finally, with respect to the self-catering at Rjukan GjestegÃ¥rd, Joe and I joined forces with Chris, Steve, and Colin to create a cooking co-op. The idea being the each of us took turn to cook for the gang. Each night we each created our own three course menu. We each also included a beer or wine with the meal – a real treat in Norway, booze is seriously expensive. This idea worked out great. We had five superb meals and yet only had to cook once each. Result. Thanks to Chris for dreaming up that idea. 🙂

😛 A great meet! Gotta love ice climbing! 😛

September Sunshine

Black Crag – Camless

Last week my great pal Boris was visiting the Lakes and we stole a couple of days to get Boris back on the rock…

On the first day we went to Wallowbarrow in the Duddon valley for a gentle reintroduction to climbing rocks. I didn’t get any pictures – it was overcast and a bit cold so we had to keep moving to stay warm. And for the second day we went to Black Crag in Borrowdale. Steve came with us as the forecast was supposed to be quite a bit sunnier, although still cold, and Steve wanted to try and get a photo or two for the forthcoming new FRCC Borrowdale guidebook…

Steve eyeing up the wide crack on Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect
Steve eyeing up the wide crack on Troutdale Pinnacle Superdirect with Boris belaying below (the other team are heading off right on the normal Troutdale Pinnacle route)

Unfortunately I had forgotten my cams when we packed our sacks in a bit of rush earlier in the day. This made for some slightly more exciting (and traditional?) climbing when Steve and I also did Raindrop a little later!

Black Crag – Wrynose

On Saturday I had allowed us to become double booked on to the SMC meet in Langdale at the Wayfarer’s RLH hut due to my forgetting to write the date of the CC‘s Mix ‘n’ Match meet at our Grange hut in Borrowdale in to my diary. No matter, we can do both we decided… We climbed in Langdale (at Long Scar and Black Crag Wrynose) Saturday daytime, headed down to RLH for the wonderful catered SMC meet in the evening (massive thanks to Dick for the awesome four course meal followed by SMC supplied malt whisky :yum: ), and then we’d drive across to Borrowdale on Sunday morning to catch up with the Mix ‘n’ Match antics there…

Pete on The First Touch - a route he's done god knows how many times, it's that good!
Pete on The First Touch – a route he’s done god knows how many times, it’s that good!
Laetitia on the steep crack of Something Stupid
Laetitia on the steep crack of Something Stupid

Goats Crag – Mixed and Matched

And finally on Sunday we got back up to Borrowdale to join the final day of Hilary’s Mix ‘n’ Match meet. There was an imperative to come along as Laetitia needed to discuss a few matters with Hilary about a very exciting meet the Pinnacle Club is planning for 2016 – an International Women’s Climbing Meet hosted at the CC’s Ynys Ettws hut in North Wales. Hopefully the BMC will be supporting the meet so there will be much more detail later… 😉

We wanted to choose a crag that would be in the sun all day, trickier in Borrowdale than Langdale as here most of the best crags get the sun in the afternoon. We chose Goats Crag. It was a very sociable day out as there were loads of us – Hilary, Adele, Laetitia, Peri, Steve, Mick, and myself.

However, a bigger gang makes for easier photo taking…

Hilary on Emma Line
Hilary on Emma Line
Laetitia on Inner Limits
Laetitia on Inner Limits
Pete on Optional Omission
Pete on Optional Omission
Adele on Inner Limits
Adele on Inner Limits

Llanberis Tradfest Weekend

tradfestLast weekend was the Llanberis Tradfest – a celebration of traditional climbing based in North Wales’ Llanberis Pass. The event was laid on through a collaboration between DMM, The Climbers’ Club, and V12 with additional support from Scarpa and The North Face. More “Llanberis Tradfest Weekend”

Lower Falcon Crag

Wednesday was the first of this summer’s CC evening climbing meets in the Lakes. Thankfully the weather was perfect – sunny, warm, and of course dry. Hooray! Strangely with such lovely conditions only a select gang bothered to turn up. I wonder if it was the choice of venue? Lower Falcon Crag in Borrowdale is not the most friendly crag and has very little to go at in the easier grades. Perhaps the next meet on the 11th June at the super friendly Black Crag on Pike o’Blisco will be more popular…

Steve and Gus on Stretch at Lower Falcon Crag, Borrowdale
Steve and Gus on Stretch at Lower Falcon Crag, Borrowdale
Pete on the awesome combination, "Kidnication" - Kidnapped and Dedication(Photo: Keith Sanders)
Pete on the awesome combination, “Kidnication” – the start of Kidnapped and the finish of Dedication
(Photo: Keith Sanders)