Apr 29, 2019

Keb Lines 2019

An other winter has about to passed in the Alps. But for the Arctics it is just halfway. In the Swedish Lapland there is still a huge amount of snow. Even though the beginning of the winter was everything then great, snowing wise.

As all over the globe the weather was way to warm and often the precipitation carried rain instead, of more normal, snow.
That combined with heavy winds mostly destroyed the snow pack, making it hard and avalanche prone.
But, things got lucky and just in time for our planned trip up north the weather pattern changed and we got a perfect spell of stable and good conditions for a couple of weeks. Time and snow set to do a couple of new ”Keb Lines”
Skiing with the beautiful Toulpagorni in the background
Our fist mission was to secure and put up an interesting, and new versions, of the yearly Keb Classic. A 2 day ski d´alpinism ski race that runs every year. Nicely arranged with STF Kebnekasie.
Since the beginning of the week still was a bit unstable and snowy, we had a good use of the extra day that was planned to prepare the race.
On arrival we could even get up to the Mountain hut, due to the forced winds!
Djärv Rännan

Djärv Rännan

After 2 days of preparing the course I took the first opportunity to try one of the new lines I had scanned from the year before.
A +600 meter line in the center of Skartaåive, opposite the STF lodge. 
It’s easy accessed just crossing the valley and the cause of the exposed terrain I decided to boot up the whole line., which ended with a bit of climbing at the very top of the couloir, before it flattens out up to the summit. 
On return, it meant some interesting down climbing, skis on, maybe not the best for the skis but if you use tender steeps, it mostly looks worse then it is. And, many ways it safer with less risk of loosing the skis. 
And, it saves a bunch of time. 
After the first exposed passages the ride down was in perfect grippy snow with some 10-20 cm pow all way down. 
Upper part of Djärv Rännan

Kebnepakte North West Hidden Couloir

Next day was again windy and fierce. But we desperately wanted to try out a new possible section for the upcoming race. So with a bit of luck we hoped for a clearing round midday and headed out despite the bad visibility and flat light. We could use  snowmobile to the upper part of the glaciers. But driving a snowmobile in flat light isn’t a great experience even if you know the terrain well. 
The national météo provider, SMHI, kept their promises and just as in the brochure the clouds started to break up and provided us with a blue sky at 12:00, just as they had predicted. 

So on our skis and skinning up to the col at Halspasset. Then a short scramble up the pre-fixed ropes up to Kebnepakte. With the goal to traverse the mountain and ski down towards Koupervagge, following the hidden Couloir some 300meters from the summit. A great little adventure with a bit of scrambling. 
Starting the descent the wind had blown the top part of snow away, but after just a few turns we got a stunning payback with some super cool powder snow over almost 700 vertical meter. 
The retour, up via Svarta Sjon and Kepnepakte Glacier

Skiing down to Koupervaggi via the Hidden Couloir
Overlooking Bjorlings Glacier from the start of Sapmi Wall

Sapmi Wall

Exposed terrain on Sapmi Wall
From the col between the peaks of Kebnekaise there are a few possible lines. One heading northwest, which I think is still un-skied, and two exposed lines going down the steep East face. This year the conditions looked perfect for the most eye catching line going direct down throw a narrow passage, which turned out to contain a bit of ice with a thin snow layer. 
And then, via a steep section above a big rock face above a vertical drop, the exit could be done via a narrow ledge/couloir down to the glacier. Unfortunately the snow pack had become a little to warm during the day, so it felt a little scary to ski full on. So I had to take a huge caution and go as light as possible on the middle section. 
But, it was a great shortcut to catch up with the participants on the first day on the race. Which after passing me on Kebnekasie I could again be ahead of them down at Bjorlings :-) 

The High 3 col Route Tarfala to Nallo

High Jo-Jo Route
After scanning the map and from former experiences doing the trip on skis between Tarfala and Nallo, I had thought of a possible route linking a bit more interesting route up when going on skis between these huts. Instead of the “normal” Jo-jo leden. 
Starting direct up from Tarfala going over Syd Ostra Kaskasetjakka glacier, down to Kaskasevaggi. And then instead of the normal route down to the Abri at Unna Raitas we skined up higher to get the col at Knivkammen and a nice not so steep couloir down more north west to Västra Kniv glacier. Then crossing the lake (1211) and up  to ski the to start with steep line going down to the niche glacier of Raitachokka glacier from point 1934  at Reaiddachokka. That gives a long nice run of almost 900vertical meters ending some 500meters below the Nallo hut. 
A great skiing day just a bit longer then the normal variation. But a lot more skiing. 
The High Jo-Jo Route

Boost Rampen

On the way up to Kaskasetjakka via the Syd Ostra Kaskasetjakka glacier, there is an obvious ramp of snow that ends with a vertical drop, down to the glacier. Some years higher then others, just depending on the amount of snow. This year it looked like it was in perfect mode, with some 30-40m rappel. Every year I arrange a Steep Skiing Week Kebnekaise, where I also try to include a new line for us to ski. This year a had the perfect client for this one and the optimal snowpack

Before dropping in to Boost Rampen
The route starts with a high traverse in under the cornices and then takes a 40 degree face line following the rock side on exposed no-fall terrain. Then you end up on an “Island” and a safe spot before the next section down to the rappel. I had seen that there was more ice then normal, but what is normal these days?, so I had high hopes to make an easy rappel belay from an abalakov. 
Great views from the summit of Toulpagorni

Down climbing a couple of meters to play it safe I could easily arrange the rappel, 35m down and to the rest of the skiing to the bottom of the S E Kaskasetjakka. Creating Boost Ramp, an other new Keb line. 

Since time is never enough, the other things seen has to wait until 2020 and an other Steep Keb Week

The rope that joins together two livings as one and if linked to a stranger will soon becoming a friend

Mar 7, 2019

Steep skiing - Prepare your self and your equipment

  Steep skiing is maybe one of the most serious sport you can do in the mountains. If you ski steep enough the risk of getting  avalanched is more or les reduced, just make shore to stay above 50° all the time! But then the risk factor if you fall is most of the times over average that it will end in a major injury or fatality

Heading into one of the couloirs of Aravis
  To reduce the risks in steep terrain is, as always, to come well prepared. Strong mental training, the right equipment, well known and comfortable with your skis and boots. Sharp edges on the skis as well as familiar with the bindings, trusting them not to release at the wrong moment.
And, good physical training, training that should have been done on a safe spot, like jump turns and glissading.
Sometimes it costs to steep ski, trashing the equipment and leaving gear behind
Practicing is always good
  A good way is to have a list, a list that gives you directions and a reminder of what might be needed and when.
On established routes there is many times good information in topos or on internet. Pages like skitour.fr and camptocamp are often very useful to find information about a specific route.
But, just because it was skied two weeks ago doesn’t mean its safe tomorrow.
Have a close look on the weather and get a historical reminder of the last avalanche forecasts, specially if you go on a low angel steep ski :-), and the last weeks weather. All this is pretty basic, but never wrong to be reminded.

  Other things that might mess things up is the real equipment.
What kind of things is needed on this specific descent? Normally maybe its enough with a 30m rope for the first rappel, but this year the lack of snow or the numbers of snow-boarders has ruined the slope and made it rock hard. So, like in the Cosmiques Couloir of Midi in January 2019, it was needed 2x50m rappels. A route where you earlier could ski directly from the col!
Keep your skis and edges sharp at all time. The first things I do every day I come home from "the Office" I clean my equipment, dry all the things and give my skis the care they need.
Is it the right day?! Exposed narrow couloir at Roches Franches

Rules why you should not go steep

  Here I have put up a list why you should stay away from this sport of Steep Skiing, just as a small mental reminder before you go:

1# If you even think of steep skiing as a pleasure of the next day, then you have already failed at this first step. Steep skiing is dangerous and committing. Far away from any pleasure skiing in the blue and red runs in the established slopes

2# Time. In worst case you need to wake up early to be able to be a the top of the run before it is hit by the sun, or ending up behind other skiers. All which will make it more dangerous and unpredicted

3# Time. In best case, you can take a ski lift up to the start of the descent, but then there will for sure be other ”steep skiers” lining up on the same descent, specially after a night of heavy snow. So, you will have to refuse even more beers the evening before, head to bed super early and be at the queue well before the staff at the lift station even are thinking of heading to the days work

4# There is already a queue! Just admit it, you had a few beers extra, stayed a little to long, both at the bar and in the bed. You are to late and the hot shots are already there. So, the only reasonable choice, is to find an other run. Maybe instead of Tour Ronde from aiguille du Midi, the best choice is the regular Valle Blanche for you this day.!? But this will be far away from the pre text you put on insta last night!

5# The conditions. Already a few weeks ago the plans was made, 1 week of skiing in the Swiss alps. The ski runs of the year, all of which you missed last year cause of the reasons above. Now your back in this pricy country to get the pay-back and show your friends. Realizing your by your self with your partner, there is only you that are heading for the couloir direction. Because this year its only ice, the last weeks föhn winds has destroyed it all. Again, head back or rappel the whole slope. But why couldn’t we, cause we  didn’t we have 6#!?

6# The equipment. One thing with Steep skiing is, its about trashing the equipment! Boots are beaten up on the booting parts up steep slopes, trashing the buckles and plastic. Completely destroying the ski-pants with crampons! And then the skis!! With all the money spent they could be ruined in one run, rappelling over cliffs and sliding over the sharpest rocks, eat the best not in a hard turn. There is one way to keep the cost downs, stay in the blue line!

7# Skiing with a heavy back pack. Even in our modern world, everything takes space. You been at the Alpine store, bought the new stuff and has a few shiny carabiners and, what you thought, the latest and lightest harness…well there is a always a newer and lighter one. Like the one your parter has or even worse; the other guy in the telepherique, the same guy that also are heading for the same ski run! 
However, you will have the avalanche equipment, then a pair of crampons and an ice-axe, a helmet with at least one GoPro, a harness with 4-5 carabiners, a rappel device (if you are novice and still use one) a couple of ice-screws, a few pitons and nuts. And some extra slings to back the rappels up. And then, a rope! Well, just think of it, it sound heavy. Because now you also realized you need a pair of extra gloves, 1 liter of water, some food for energy, a hat, an extra down jacket, a first aid kit, a head torch, skins…last time your bindings came undone so you missed the multi tool you left behind that time, because now its here as well… 

8# Training. The breakfast was already to early, no appetite! And now after a rush from the telepherique, to be the first, suddenly the stomach starts to send reminders. Your throat is super dry from the lack of water and the un-lack of altitude. The last years frequent stops at the pizza hut and McDonalds on the way home from the office sends a reminder. Maybe a few days a week at the gym, under the barbell or any diffuse machine wasn’t enough. Maybe 2-3 time a week, or month at the local 100 vertical meter ski slope hasn’t paied back enough!? This is how it felt like, how it felt last year… 

9# Training. Steep skiing is a lot of mental activity. The only way to be happy on a 50° slope is to be there, and to be there often. This also mean to be familiar with the use of ice-axe and crampons, coiling and un-coiling the rope. To practice and use belay systems. Be quick but calm. And then, be strong in the legs and safe on the edges. Judging the snow, the conditions and the weather. And to be brave. Are you wiling to take that calculated risk of falling, pre-considered in case of a fall. Once at the exit its to late. Practicing rope techniques, jump turns and self-arrest must be done way in advance.

Nice and exposed above the rocks...
10# Steep skiing. If you still, after this, feel the desire and longing, hankering, yearning to go and try that Whymper couloir from aig Vertes after all. Well, then I can only gratulate and say hurray! Because it is one of the most inspiring things you can do in the mountains!!
Practice and get comfortable in all situations - thats the key

"Steep skiing is a serious sport, timing and mental balance is,  together with a lot of other things, very important. Not to be pushed by friends or social media. Keeping the equipment in a good shape and always stay sharp, in both physics and edges"

Jan 27, 2019

Les Fils de l’haltère et du Pan - Verdon

Verdon, in the Alpes de haute provance, is one of the most mythic and respectful places to do long sport climbs in France.Beautiful suited in the area of Alpes cote d´azur, this national parc is a most to visit for any climber. Or for anyone that just like respectful and impressive nature. One of those places that makes one to think, if not before even more, but of how lucky we are to be on this planet and all things we should try to do to save it.

Driving in to la Palud sur Verdon
To try to recommend any routes here is both easy and difficult, there are a number of classics, of course, but during the week we climbed here I can't say any of there routes made me disappointed!
There is one thing though to consider, the engaging part in the climbing is not to be underestimated, since many times the distance between the bolts can be somewhat spread out. But as the legendary Patric Edlinger once said, "we should have places the bolts closer, if we just had more bolts..."
And on the good side, its not ncececcery to bring many quick draws, so the rack gets lighter!
If there is to be one big backside here it could be that the approaches are a bit to short and easy. Often its made by just taking a few meters from the road and then just rappelling down the route, and climb back up. So its comfortable to be a bit rounder, with the good french restaurants and food with all the good cheese. So you better take care!

Just to give an idea I have listed a couple of routes that is a good introduction to the area and maybe a few "must do" routes.
The top 1 would then be the classic "ULA", put up in 1972 by B Bouscasse and M Coquillat.
It´s a super preforming system of cracks of different sizes over 10 pitches, with a grade up to 6b. But look up, its Verdon 6b, old school. 
Anna on ULA, Verdon
The approach is made by rappelling les dalles grises, which is easiest and most obvious. Or by foot from the parking at pont sublime and sentier Martel. Bring a head torch!
Once fully equipped with bolts it was re-done in 2011, with only the belay bolts left in place. So now its a traditional climb again. But, a route that can be a long line of climbers in high season. So chose the time for this. It can be slow!!
Classic gouttes d´eau

For a newer but outstanding multi-pitch sport climb the "Les Fils de l’haltère et du Pan" at the sector of Malines is one of the most enjoyable limestone routes I have climbed.
A route that also involves a little of spectacular approach as well, down climbing to the very bottom of the gorge.
The FA was done in 2011, maybe they moved the bolts from ULA to here 😎😏, by Pascal Faudou.
It starts with a steep section of 6a crack, followed by a numberous amount of high quality pitches. The FA´s has really put in a good piece of work to find the best line here.

Access the route from the Belvedere parking, a little de-escalation, the route is a bit expo.
The trail starts at a cairn at the W end of the bend (red dot marking). Follow the path, which is well marked by cairns and marking. Switch backs and down a couloir to slip into a ledge / fault that joins a ridge on the left side. Go down and up in front of another couloir to join some stairs / metal bars. Descend by following the metal bars, et voila!

The climb
It starts a bit right ot the "lame Fatale", in the middle of a bunch of trees. A little physique start up a steep wall, but very good protected, thanks Pascal!
Next pitch goes up and then out rightwards, over some gouttes d´eau, to a belay at a couple of trees.
Pitch three is the hardest which first builds up some nice confidence but then strikes back with a bunch of fingery moves on steep rock. A full on and long pitch.
This one together with pitch four is just a beauty for a climber, all on solid high friction rock.
Pitches 5 to 7 is all classic limestone climbing.
Pitch 8, has it all, crack, diedre, roof and lunules...
Pitch nine, starts with a bit physique small roof, and the steep wall to the top belay.

The retour is made via a small path back to the road just above.

Equipment for Verdon
2x50m ropes, a lead rope and a tail-line makes the best service in my opinion
Anna on depart of Les Fils...
10-15 QD´s
A few mid size cams are sometimes useful to place between bolts
head torch, can be good if you need to walk out 

Time to go
Can be very warm in the summer but it is always possible to find walls in the shadow
April - June and September - December normally works fine.
Unfortunately a car is needed to get around and to get here to start with.

Places to stay
There is a really nice Gite de France in la Palud sur Verdon
Camping is also possible in the village of Palud, just check when they are open
For a number of choices, check out this link
In Saint Maire there are more hotels and Gites, but then it involves everyday of driving

An other high class route is A Tout Cœur - at secteur Dingo
Hauteur 150m/5 longueurs + 2 more to get back to the top, 6b+ Max
Things to do on a rest day, visit Saint Maire and the old church
Les Fils de l’haltère et du Pan
Beau et belle
BASE is an ok restudy activity as well

// Kolonn körning är rätt ok, så länge man är först