Jun 28, 2020

Le Bastillion - Aiguille du Midi Face Sud

 Thunderstorm syndrome

All good for a great day of climbing on altitude on the aiguilles of Chamonix. 
To make it an easy day, first days on attitude for some 3 months, the south face of Midi would do as the perfect choice. Easy access, stunning climbing, belle vue...on y va.
With a low slight risk of a overcast with a little chance of precipitation it should go fine with a 1/2 model of alpine start, going up with the telepherique at 09:00, and the route!? A mixture of lines trying to link all the big corner and cracks together to get a high level of climbing and a uniform level of climbing.

As always, just the drive up the valley over viewing the surrounding mountains is surly breathtaking, each and every time. And with the knowledge that in some 15minuts your gona be stepping out of a telepherique at 3800mts, with out more effort than buying a ticket...on y va!

Again as always, a few meeting with a few friends at the top. Happy faces with a great day a head coming up. Finally, after a couple of months covidement, who can complain? If you wanna sing there is always a song, on y va!!

As always, the 15 min approach is as beautiful as ever, this year even better than in many years. With all the late cold weather and snow the arete du Midi is an easy one with most of the cracks well filled in.
Even the rimeye to get to the wall is still, at the end of june, in a very easy mode.

As always, even though I have been at the poutre for more time than ever before (a broken foot syndrome), still the odd granit feeling is a strange one and the comfort zone is not yet back there.
But, a few meters climbing adds a few millimeters of confidens...so keep adding meters will help!?

As always, the great feeling and friction of the mont blanc massif granit, its cracks and formations, is harder than remembered. But, fighting, cussin and growling, always pays back and a few pitches brings back the good feeling memories, happy crawling fingers!

Mazeud-Bastillion Combination
One of many great pitches of the M-B variation

As always, my wife has come up with a great plan of ideas, and each and every pitch is better than the previous, linking the south face as the Bastillion of the sharp guillotine.
Something that really shows its reality when the recently named person, my wife, arrives at the upper belays on the 10th pitch
-Oh, is it snowing?
-Well yes, its been snowing for some 10 minutes alright. But as long as its only snowing it won´t be to slippery...

Still good weather going on...

As always, it started to RAIN...*
Premier, I climbed the next pitch in a bit of heavy snow, then belaying Anna up in blue sky....before the big bang and the thunder road moved in full on!

Now it turned from odd pleasure to really bad, hail; OK, snow; OK, rain; O...K, thunder; not OK!
Belaying Anna up the second last pitch things are fast moving into really bad, I can only watch as the normally good friction of rock goes into covered and plastered ice and snow.
And, at this pint there is only one way to go, that is up! 
An other team of two has taken the road down on the final east wall of Midi, which would for the moment send them to a safer spot. but only into to nowhere to go, surrounded of loose rocks and no escape.
For me, there is only one goal at this point, bring the ice axes out and climb and dry-tool the uppest part to the top of Midi, find the anchors and make a s fast as possible traverse and rappel down AS POSSIBLE! 
Then, with a safe rope over the aiguille, bringing Anna over when it has calmed down with lightning.
Now its survival mode sort of....

As always, my confidence grows with the task and mission. 
-Whats the likeliness of being hit by a lightning, really!?
Well ok, at this point, being on the highest place in the area surrounded by metal installations, equipped with metal, crampons, ice axe, carabiners, wet ropes... oh la la, well its a small chance.
While hearing the sound and growling moving up, the bad feeling of being at the wrong place at the, ok, wrong time, I try to make distans to most of the iron stuff around when there is suddenly a;
Ahh, someone is hammering my head hard and down; pushing, hammering, beating, everything at the same time. Thunderstruck, but luckily still there. Probably saved because I moved away from my hardware and was still on dry shoes with a good rubber sole.  But a small dizzy feeling.

On the exposed Midi summit

Back in safety

-shit, I´ve been hit by lightning... I wonder if there will be one more? Is that really possible?? Two times at the same day???
Pricing my foresight, I still have our rappel rope out and not in the bag, so I can quickly organize that one for the rappel still being on the lead rope to bring Anna over when all is ready.
Which in a long minute brings me down to the safety of the both of us, securing and untying from the ropes, cache all the metal stuff and just waiting out the last thundering and happily cheering as it moves away. Quickly belaying Anna up and over the needle and down again to safer safety.
Then, watching the other team stranded in nowhere as the lightning is picking up again.

-we need to get them a rope!

One team of 2 lost in nowhere...but we could manage to get them a safe rope

1hour later and we are all, stranded climbers as well, are safe down with a, as always, nice cup of "noisette" @Café vertical in moder home Chamonix!

Aiguille du Midi Face Sud

50m rope
2-3 of blue to red Alien
2 0.75-2 Camalot
1 small set of nuts
8-10 QD´s
Crampons, ice-axe, ice-screw 
(Kong Omni bag, Haul bag, optimal)
                                                   *well, OK, i exaggerated a bit here.

Apr 13, 2020

Keb Lines 2020

 The winter of 2020 is going to be remembered as a much different winter in many ways.
The winter of 2020 also delivered a lot of snow in the north of Scandinavia. Around Riksgränsen we could see bigger amounts of snow than ever in modern times. Not those huge amounts around Kebnekasie, but still more than usually. Almost like in the "old days"

This area isn't very crowded to start with, and 2020 with the world wide virus going on, hitting each and every little ski resort. So of course this remote place got the share of it as well. Suddenly CONVID-19 was on each and everybody lips, the oddest thing with the staff and local tourists did have much effect of it, almost not even understanding what was going on really. And then that suddenly everyone started to cancel their visits, well as with a lot of other really surrealistic things, it just didn't feel for real.

We arrived in Nikkaloukta and headed up to Kebnekasie STF station with a weather forecast that could mean anything and everything. But, at least the snowpack felt stable, with cold weather predicted.

Cascade du Quarantaine 

Since I was a bit in to ice-mode we first headed for an ice-fall a bit lower down towards Nikkaloukta, some 10km more to the east.
A route that I scanned on the way up the week before, that looked like a nice un-climbed project, possible 2 pitches.

Anna on the first pitch of Cascade du Quarantine, WI5+
Arriving at the base it looked even steeper than on distans, with an interesting roof to pass some 10-15m up and then straight up for a vertical section that turned out to be good solid climbing as well.
Finally we even got a third pitch of 45m up some shorter sections of 90° ice. In total 3 pitches of up to WI5+ on great stalactites and solid ice moments
Cascade du Quarantine 
3 pitches
Location; Between the great ice line "Coeur du Giant" and "Couloir du Elan"
Descent, same line on abalakovs

Cascade du Quarantine
After two days of stormy weather it finally cleared up and we could head out for our planned tour over to the area of Nallo and Vistas.
This area is more to the north of Kebnekaise and even more remote, like really remote. The access on skis normally takes two days or one big day. Depending on the size of your back pack.
But the effort is worth all the sweat! This area has a huge numbers of great lines, un-skied lines!!

The great view overlooking Toulpagorni / Kebnekaise

The obligatoire Reindeer stop in Nikkaloukta
Our warm up tour to Tjäkktjatjåkka is quickly turned into a little more and bigger tour to the neighbor of Tjäkktjabakte and its spectacular looking east face.
A quick detour to pick up some more alpine stuff like crampons, ice-axes, harnesses and a short rappel rope and with the great blue skies we was on our first, and very much improvised mission!
Our 3hour schedule to the summit turned out to be very correct and at 15:30 I hiked the last bit towards the summit corniche. which I respectfully stayed away from as much as I could, just taking a short shortcut towards what looked like a safe place to get an idea of the ridge going down to the run.
Suddenly I see a crack line that is detaching the corniche and at the same moment as a jump left the whole thing just disappears down the face, still with me happily on the just departed top, #&%?!, sigh....
With an other of these cat lives just disappearing we at least had gotten a good test of the snowslopes below us, everything that stil is on place should be more than solid to ski, sort of!
After a short debriefing I start down the first section of mid-steep terrain where Anna joins me before a short exposed traverse to the next section of a steeper couloir. And then into a bigger area of more open and less exposed skiing down to the valley, a good descent of almost 750 vertical meters.
Don't fall!!
Tjäkktjabakti östvägg
Steep on Tjäkktja Bakti
Some great turns finishing on Tjäkktja Bakti Östvägg

Tjäkktjabakti Östvägg
5:1/S5/E:3/ 54° - 750m
Crampons, Iceaxe, sometimes maybe a short rope to make some 10-15m rappel is necessary
The local `Fjällväder´ in Kebnekaise

Sielmma Batni Couloir

This as a couloir that I have been looking on for quite a few years, just a brilliant line which is cut deep in the mountain dividing the small looking tooth from "Flint nålarna"
the LINE!
Easy to access via the route towards Sielmma tjåkka, but then heading up towards the corniche of Flintnålarna. A bit of tricky skiing down to the saddle and then...just a beautiful line with not even a death potential!
Overlooking the couloir
Sielmma Batni couloir
5:3/S7/E:2/ 63° - 400m
Crampons, Iceaxe, harness, 40m rope
Great times on Sielmma Batni couloir

Classic jump and turn!
Evening planing

Couloir du Silence - summit 1762 (or 1750 on old maps)

This is an other obvious line from an unnamed mountain above to the north of the Nallo hut.
It holds a couple of lines down its south looking face.
Anna, finally, on the summit ridge of "1762"
the access is best made over the small lake below 1880 and then up the north face. We put on our crampons quite low and booted up, the last bit was a fight with the suger snow covering the rocks, but after a couple of tries we finally made it. Must more difficult than it looks!
Once on the ridge its a safe last approach and then a cool line which never goes steeper than 45°

Couloir du Silence
Couloir du Silence
PD 4:1/S4/E1 45° - 800m
Crampons, iceaxe

Couloir skiing!
Keb Lines 2020

Couloir HanZo

Unfortunately everything has an end, so as this one. After some great remote days we needed to head back towards Tarfala and Kebnekaise again, cause of the food issue...!
On the way we picked a route that would give us a few longer and slightly steeper descents, before ending up in the valley of Tarfala. Since the weather had been more than perfect the last days we expected and got a hard northern wind with really cold air. But, luckily mostly in our backs.
Once back in the Tarfala terrain we scanned an other line to bring with us. This time from the east side of Norra Klippberget, just above the Tarfala refuge.
HanZo Couloir
A short skinning up Isfallsglaciären and then a section on crampons and some easy, very easy, scrambling ups to the east summit and the ridge of the peak. Payback, a beautiful couloir down the north looking face to the 1150m lake. No obstacles, just pure semi-steep skiing. A line to finish the Keb Line season with!!

HanZo Couloir
F 4:1/S4/E1 45° - 500m
Crampons, iceaxe
Fun meter ON!
HanZo Couloir

//Keb lines 2020

Mar 16, 2020

Khibiny Mountains - Kola Peninsula

 In times of mild and dry winters the area of Kola Peninsula is a snow safe place to visit.
Not famous for huge amounts of snow like the Japanese mountain range, but due to its far north location it is manly cold winters starting already in october.

As a comparison most of the skiing in Japan is between 40-45° latitude, the Khibiny mountains are close to 70°latitude! Something that has been a problem this year in Japan with many ski resorts that has kept closed due to lack of or no snow at all.

We started an 11 dat ski-trip from St Petersburg and then train to Apatity, with one day of skiing in the ski area of Kirovsk. Before heading out to a Refuge 20km from the road end, surrounded by mountains up to alost 1200m high.

Supported at the refuge by our Russian staff which served a good variation of traditional Russian food and drinks.

This is a great area to visit from March until mid May, but for the cold snow March is probably the best time. Earlier in February it is still quite short days.
Descending towards the town of Kirovsk
A combination with the very punctual Russian trains givs the whole trip a bit more of adventure when you end up seeing areas that one might not be existing.
But the trains it self are very trustful and have a good reputation to always be on time, which we can only agree on after our journey. Including a very good train restaurant, well, except the coffee.
You just need to book the tickets well in advance and choose 2nd or 3rd class...depends on the experience that you want!

For further information, please contact alpinemadness.se / Krister Jonsson