Well, this aint to bad, cause driving fast in Norway could be expensive!
After a classic hamburger meal at Empes in Kiruna, we are ready for a couple of hours drive towards E fjord, Stetind.
The plan is to climb some of the longer routes on its west face. But, like so often in this area, there is rain. A lot of rain, often. And the low pressures keeps on passing. Must be a factory around the corner!?
The Applecake Arête on Pianokrakken, a 5+ corner which we should be able to climb even in light rain.
Said and done, an hour later we stand at the base. A 5 min approach from the road and, the rain looks like stopping! This has some enjoyable climbing with a bit of everything, and very easy climbing.
After topping out there is still time left before headlamp time (it's midnight sun actually) so we go for an other classic, Tapir, a UIAA VII.
This is a perfect crack over 25m, hands and fingers. Ends at a rappel anchor.
But, as there is a variation to climb 2 more short pitches we continue to the top, again.
Sunset over Pianokrakken
Next day, after a nightly rain shower, the goal must be the best route on the whole island. "Vest Pillaren" on Presten. A UIAA VI+ over nine pitches up a beautiful rock wall on perfect granit.
We try to ignore the darker clouds around and bring a tail line just in case.
Since there are som people already at the base, we skip the direct start and scramble up to the original pitch one. Not a to bad choice either so better then hanging around waiting sort of...
A short traverse brings me up to base of a corner/crack system that goes all the way up to Storhylla, three pitches.
This is all famous ground, with only good rock. A bit wet from last nights shower but nothing to worry about. Makes it more interesting only.
Suddenly we are above the other teams, so we can relax a bit and just enjoy the day. Which turns out to be better for every minute. The weather is very changeable in this area. When a front moves in over the sea, things goes very fast and in an hour a big sun can be changed to mist and rain.
So when I scan the horizon and see clouds building up, I get the pattern.
No time to hang around so to speak. The pitches pass by and on the last one the clouds are still in a confident distant. The last "pitch" up to the summit are a grassy scramble, not so nice but nothing terrible or dangerous. Just do it!
On the summit after 4 hours of great climbing it takes a couple of minutes and the clouds rules the peak. A good path down the hill makes life easy anyhow and at least it doesn't throw any rain so far.
The only wetness turns out to be a couple of well deserved beers at the Climbing cafe in Henningsvær, Den Siste Viking. Not to be missed as well a the Smoked Salomon or Whale gryten if you are in for dinner! Forget the cost and just take "le addition", specially when someone else is buying:)
Next day, after an other nights rain and strong winds. The decision is made to head for a Gullvika modern classic and a top 50, an other one, route.
"Vår Kåt" 7, a 4 pitch crack climb on solid rock. With the hardest bit just at the start and then a short crux on the third pitch. Before a briljant overhanging hand and finger crack, with the only pas de plus, that it ends to quickly... The route is very obvious since it travels up between the mossy strokes on the rock. Like a lightning zig zag.
Since the approach is a bit long for this side of the world, almost 20 min!!, the crowds never get here. So the whole fjord is only for us. Which is not to be said of every rocky place nowadays on this magic place.
All the new guide books and topos has given the area a whole new status of accessibility compared to the mid -90 when there was a couple of single papers with bad drawn pictures. But on the other hand a bit of the adventure has gone with some of it's magic, replaced by the feeling of a big playground climbing camping overlooked by a the midnight sun. And one or two drilled bolts are keen to get some of the lights on the soon rusty bottom. With this said, the granite is just as good as ever, but for how long...?
"Jamming for Jasmus"
Back in Henningsvær and the Siste Viking there is still some climbing time before dinner. So the test piece looking "Running for Rasmus" on Gandalf veggen looks like a nice target. A 3 pitch 8- route up the right hand side of this otherwise slabby rock face. But this one gives a bit more steep feeling with some dramatic climbing exercise.
An awkward start that cheeks your flexibility brings a couple of meters traverse out left and then up some nice layback and jamming to a surprisingly good belay under a roof.
This roof is the crux of the route, and as it turns out, which would have been easy to figure out, but..., is of the wetter character. The hand jams goes in perfect but since the payback is dripping the holds are a bit hard to keep in place. A desperate feet placement behind finally me gives me time to put in a cam and save me a long pedelum flight back down. Jeess!
Then some nice relaxing hand/finger jamming continues to a possible sling belay behind a pinnacle, with a short last pitch up to the summit.
With two days left of the total of six days we have covered 30 pitches, with mostly harder climbing. So an easy day up to Glåmtindtind would be a good project.
The walk in takes about one hour, starting on the old road going over the tunnel at Rørvika. The last bit up close to the summit of Glåmtindtind gives a great view over a big part of the island of Vågan.
Since I have climbed the classic Ørneryggen a number of times we aim for the more unknown Herman Hedning. A three pitch 6-
The start looks a bit wet as well as the rest of the face and it takes a bit of negotiation to convince Ola that it looks ok, just a bit so so at the start.
A short mossy wet section a couple of meters above should be easy to bypass and then the corners above looks fine enough for spending a couple of hours.
Racking up we are under constant dripping from above, maybe rain maybe from just...above. The moss turns out to have an other opinion than just easy, but a high placed cam saves the moves. Then a nice couple of meters of perfect crack, have I written that before? But as it turns out, the only nice meters of climbing.
A good belay on some wet rock, keeps me full on trying to save the rope getting to much of the black muddy moss and other undefined stuff on my new nice and so far yellow tendon rope.
The next pitch gives a stunning trip up some loose rock, with holds that does just hold sometimes and doesn't other times. Keeps me swinging a bit, but not off balance.
And the upper part doesnt look much better...so via careful climbing I just seek the best visible line. Which ends with easy scrambling to the summit and the postbox.
Last days call
Finally a night without rain and the sun is already hitting the tent fabric, a day made for a last classic.
After a long easy breakfast with the feeling that non of wants to leave really the tents are demontage and the BMW packed.
Svolvær Geita above Svolvær is a super classic peak to stand on, even though a big part of one of the summit horns have taken a trip towards the underlying graveyard a couple of years ago.
Second pitch of Englavinger, never underestimate a pair of Lycra
On a sunny day on a weekend there is always people on the quite easy routes, "1910" 4+ or "Forsida" 5+.
If you chose a more difficult route like "Starway to Heaven" or "Englevinger" you will most likely be on your own, just sharing the anchor for the rappel back down.
Since Englevinger gives some variated jamming and Olas hands already are massacred, it's a given goal. Three pitches up the left side of the cliff.
And with a big sun firing all it's best on us and the face every move is more then dry, for once!
Arriving the summit of Geita
Lofoten and E Fjord info...
There are three topos, newer ones, over this beautiful area, so the best info are found there. For you that wants to explore this magic place and at the same time start to or improve your climbing a course on the famous NNKS, Nord Norsk Klatreskole, are reckomended.
Via them there is also a lot of info about new routes, places to camp and other useful things. Together with great food and beer at the bar Siste Viking.
This is a place to get in love with and even though a lot of routes are climbed, there are still a lot of new routes to put up.
But, why not start with climbing some of the established 4-star old ones...
Some of the routes and info
"Running for Rasmus" a no.4 Camalot is useful under the roof
For the routes on Presten 2x50m rope are neccecery for rappelling of from Storhylla, other wise there is only one way, to the summit!
In general there are no fixed belays and no bolts, please keep it that way!
The routes are between 4 to 9- with most routes grade 6
Access is mostly short, up to 1h, accept Nordryggen on Vågakallen which takes about 2-3h
During Fridays NNKS ends the climbing courses on Geita, so if you plan to climb this it might be a day to avoid going there
To get around a car is useful, even though it's possible to stay in one place like "Kalle" and climb for a week just around there.
To get to the area there are Hurtigboats from Narvik, doesn't take any cars.
Flights to Narvik/Evenes and also direct to Svolvær via Bodø as well as Kiruna, Sweden.
A nice entrance is also via a ferry from Bodø to Å in Lofoten, if you have time and willing to take the extra ferry cost.
Topos Rockfax and climbing on the magic Islands and for Stetind/E fjord Dancing on the Devils dance floor
A fishing rod is also worth bringing for some sea fishing.
Summit of Presten, Vestpillaren
Magic moments...a view from the coffe table
"Running for Rasmus" 8-
Enjoying the last evening. Time to give some trashed fingers some rest...