May 6, 2021

Keblines 2021

  An other weird winter has passed in the Swedish Lapland 

With the accelerating climate change the weather pattern is becoming more and more unpredictable. Well, in one way less unpresidential because one can be quite sure that it will not be as the normal winters as the once I grew up in. With long periods of cold stable weather. Instead its rapidly changing between warm and cold, a lot of precipitation which comes as rain even in mid january. But the biggest issue is the wind factor. Those days with huge snowfalls with big snowflakes that penetrates the air and forms a soft white layer on the ground, these days don't show up too often anymore.

When I look on the pictures and movies from the last winters I find a lot of great skiing, with big powder days. But the amount of stormy days with short movies where people are falling over, loosing balance and close to not being able to handle the equipment because of the strong winds, these days have a big number amount of days as well. That together with the rapid change of temperature makes off piste skiing quite difficult, with unstable snowpack and unpredictable slopes.

Singichokka - Couloir Royale

"Couloir Royale"

As always I spend a reasonable amount of time in the mountains of Kebnekaise each winter season. And my favorit time is April. Usually the snow has stabilized and the biggest avalanches has normally come down. And, the days are getting longer. I had a few lines from last year in mind that I wanted to try out. One is the obvious couloir that descends from Singichokka to the left of the "Last in Line" This is a quite technical route as well, that ends in a vertical section over steep rock, that would definitely need some rappelling. Said and done, I was lucky with a perfect weather spell on my only free day! After a quiet breakfast on a slow monday morning, all the clients from last week had left Sunday lunch and new clients arriving Tuesday afternoon, I had a full day for me and myself. Perfect timing!! With 2 ropes, a 30m and a 50m, in my bag. Some pitons and slings, ice axes and crampons and my new weapon, a Milwaukee, at the bottom of my ski-pack, I was ready to set of. The approach in the valley was easy on hard snow making it easy to move quickly. At the bottom of Singichokka I had seen the best way of getting up to the start of the couloir via the south east side and a bigger formation/couloir that looked easy enough. For sure the quickest way up which would make it easy tio find the descent line. Going up the couloir isn't an option for this one. Climbing the rock section looked enorm and would turn it into something else than this days goal - skiing! 

a close look down the Royale

From the marked trail at the bottom of Singi I started up on skis towards the steeper sections above. After a few hundred vertical meters I had to put my skis on the back and steeped into my crampons. The sun was heating up quite a bit, but the clouds in the morning should have protected the snow in the couloir enough to keep it soft. But now the heat started to make the snow quite heavy on the south side, building up snow under my crampons for every steep. And worse, starting to send down rocks from above which forced me to be really observant and quickly move from side to side when some bigger stones came tumbling down the face. To avoid the worst parts I aimed for a section of steeper snow out left, trying to stay protected from getting avalanched with climbing up as close as possible to the rock face. But at one point the only way was via a few steeps out on a bad looking section of 40° snow. One steep out and there was something as a gun shoot. And all went quiet!! Slowly i took two steeps back in my previous foot steeps, as light as possible. Wow, it stayed! Reversing down the same path I was forced to go up a more narrow couloir on the right instead, taking the risk of rockfalls. The only other option was returning down, and that wasn't an option really.


Some 100 meters in the couloir and I could move out left again climbing over slabs and stones, well protected from avalanches and rockfall. And with my two ice axes I quickly made progress, even though that the snow kept building up under my crampons all the time. Two steeps, cleaning of the snow, two steeps... frustrating!

Finally, I stood on top and the goal of the day showed its entrance. A huge avalanche had come down over the top part, as well as that I could see what looked like an old release edge lower down in the couloir. Which made me feel somewhat better. Now it should be clear, more stable...probably. Arranging the tools in the back pack, putting everything in the right order and range the ropes / tools and harness on. Just sending the picture and position to my wife and I was ready to set off!

The fist section was over a bit of ice, quite steep to start with. But after i could ski into a part of lower angle and stable snow. A few deep breaths before sending into the couloir itself, trying to stay protected closer to the rocks and making as light as possible turns to get a feeling of the stability. And it soon turned out that the cloud covered sky in the morning had kept the snow soft and protected from the direct sun ray. So no crust and a little dust, actually quite a lot on top. 

As I had seen from below the line got steeper and steeper and I could see the cutting edge from an old avalanche that had broken off from the second part of the couloir. Some 40cm fraction line. Speeding up the lower part I safely arrive to the first point of rappel. And quickly decide that the Milwaukee will do the job. A 30m rappel from a single bolt to the next section of skiing, just a short 40m descend to the next rappel point and placing an other bolt before rappelling down a narrow slightly overhanging chimney. Safe down to the exit and the last and relaxing part of the descent out back to the marked trail!!

Niibbás 


An other objective that I was able to ski was just by coincident while passing trough Unna Räita and Unna Reidavaggi. From the summit of Niibbas, 1902mts, there is a few easy accessed lines. One of them is on the north west side from the small glacier that goes up betweenPyramiden and Niibbas. With some extra power in the legs on the way back towards Tarfala we made a quick hike up to the ridge line and found a descent with some variated but enjoyable snow. The way up we scrambled up the same way as the line of the descent, using crampons and an ice axe as support. This couloir is also very obvious but not really easy to see the upper part from the Unna Räita cabin, but once below at the glacier it shows a quite spectacular ride. Well worth doing with a small effort of bootpacking.


Routes 2021

Couloir Royale, 48°/ED1/5:3/S5

Equipment

2 x 30m ropes, harness, crampons, 2 ice axes

In the line of the descent there is 2 bolts places on skiers left at each section of rappel, 20m and then 30m


Niibbas Couloir NW 40° /PD/4:1/S4

Equipment

Crampons, ice axe








Mar 16, 2021

Ice Climbing Stora Sjöfallet - Nieras

 During a week in the area of Stora sjöfallet we, Johan Lindfors and myself, had the opportunity, with great ice conditions for the year as it looks, to climb a bunch of lines during our stay.

With the great help from the hosts at Stora sjöfallets Mountain Lodge we could get access to a beautiful area of the North side of Nieras and its East- and Norths faces. Which turned out to hold a good amount of potential new routes and lines.

We stayed for one week, with 5 days of climbing, and put up 5 new routes...

Fjällväder!

The first day, upon arrival, we was meet with a beautiful sky and high clouds and with a night that provided a great Aurora show on the sky high above. With a coffee in hand I spent 2 hours outside just amazed of the spectacular fenomen. But during the night we had a shift in the weather front, giving us a full on storm during the next 4 days. Which made us just stay down in the tree line the first day, enjoying the open tree skiing areas above the Mountain Lodge. 

But, since our main misson was to climb we made a recon tour in the late afternoon up to the barrage of Sitas. From which we could see a huge number of interesting waterfalls and mixed lines on its East and North sides. We had a plan indeed!!



Next morning, still super strong winds, but we had found a line on the east face of Nieras which should be protected from the wind, a bit of lee side maybe. Which it turned out to be, if you don't mind the spinn drifts! We took a full day out climbing a quite interesting line over 3 pitches with ice up to WI5+. And totally blasted by the snow drift. 

Nice to be well protected with clothes designed in Britain and tested in the Scottish Alps! 

Leading Norrlands Guld WI5+


The following days we climbed more on the North facing walls of Nieras, putting up 3 routes up to WI6. But we had one more deal with the East face, a thin steep line of ice that looked just amazingly good. The type of climbing that I enjoy the most, technical ice formations over steep, overhanging rock. And it turned out to follow up all my expectations. Starting in nice beautiful blue sky weather we finished in beautiful spinndrift and full on storm, again!! 😎💪👊



Leading Den Tunna Blå Linjen

Johan following up the last pitch of Den Tunna Blå Linjen

When and were

 Stora Sjöfallet is on the entrance to Sarek and Ritsem, on the way between Gällivare in the north and Jokkmokk in the south. There is a good bus connection when arriving with the train to Gällivare. The history about the place is caused of the huge water barrage, which provides Sweden with a great amount of electricity. Which has put a huge environmental effect over the area. Drowning and destroying many of the traditional Lappish villages and their traditional areas´´, many of which they were forced to leave the these constructions started to take place. Convenient enough the Swedish government at that time, changed the laws and restrictions to be able to construct these hydroelectricity power stations.

All this has of course changed the area in many ways, but it has also provided a good road up to this part of the massif of Sarek, Ahkka and Ritsem. By which we can access the ice climbing.




Nieras North face

Time of climbing

You can ice climb in this area during a long period of the winter, normally already from October/November until May.

Ninjo, WI6 @ Nieras

Finishing up "Ninjo" at Nieras

Accommodation

There is a few places to stay. Free camping is an option for the hard cores!

My best experience is at the Stora Sjofallets Mountain Lodge, with the option to rent a room, single double, or a cabin. With access to a great restaurant after a good day out!

http://www.storasjofallet.com

//Scares heals, Glory Fades!!


Oct 26, 2020

Grand Flambeau Sexocet - Monia Mena

  Thanks to Ezio Marlier, an Italian mountain guide from Courmayeur, there is a couple of good easy accessed mixed routes at the Grand Flambeau. Easily reached from the Helbronner telepherique.
It´s east face is definitely only a winter face, since it´s, in quite small words, a bit loose :-)

First pitch of Monia Mena

But, when stabilized with cold weather and refrozen snow, it´s no to bad. And in the combo with it´ s 10min access its a great choice for an introduction of the use of ice axes in the high mountains or when the weather is a bit on the bad side.

Still, at this time of year when the fist lift is at 08:30 and last descent is at 15:30, you have to keep the rope moving at all time to be sure to join the last bin back down. At least if the ambition is to top out!

Two nice but a little easier ones are Sexocet (M6) and Monia Mena (M7+)

Sexocet has a short crux section at the start which ones overrun its more M5/M4 climbing. This one aslo as a fun second pitch, steaming up a chimney formation passing under a jamed bloc.




Initiary Sexocet

P1: 25m M6  Climb along ice crusts and crack / physical blade, passage to the right in the gully / chimney stop on the left

L2: 20m M5. Immediately a narrow and deep gully, uncomfortable but well protected, coming out of a characteristic hole .... the one on the left is better, stop at the base of the exit corner

L3: 40m M4. Superb exit on the left and non-trivial channel, stop at a bolted belay. 

L4: 40 m Go up to the left until you reach the snow couloir and join Monia Mena. On the way there is a large boulder with a bolt, this bloc is totally loose, if its still there!

Continue for another 2 pitches on snow with some short classic difficulties up to the cable car platform, voilá!


DESCENT

Abseil down the route from S3 or from Monia mena if you don´t go to the top. 

From the top, go around the iron fence, follow the fixed cord direct out right, and then down the arete aiming for the snow arete below. Scramble down to an other section of jamed wires and some static rope to make rappel off from. 


Chimney pitch of Sexocet
Monia Mena (M7+)

This route has characteristic first pitch with some good climbing which keep one busy over 25m.

Second pitch is much easier and after that your up in the same couloir as Sexocet. But the first pitch definitely makes it worth climbing.

Good protected with own pro and 5 spits


Initiary 

P1: 25 m M7 + long ice crust and final physical overhang, 6 bolts along pitch 3 on the right in the hard pass and one at the exit in the center of the gully, belay on bolts on the right

L2: 40 m M5 immediately a narrow and deep gully and exit to keep ears straight, easy channel (50 degrees) and belay on bolts and cord on the slab on the right

L3: 45 m classic difficulty 50 degrees towards Evidente on the left and then on the right side of the canal stop on the right on bolts and cord

L4: 45 m slightly to the right and go around the rock, returning to the left and stop in the center of the channel towards under the clearly visible steel balustrades

P5: 25m still classic difficulties up to the cable car platform


DESCENT

Abseil down the route. Or same as the descent as Sexocet


An other nice route on this face, a bit more to the far right side is Cuori di ghiaccio


Initiary 

P1: 25m nice pitch with sections of M5, bolt belay with sling on ledge in the middle of the gully

P2: 30m M7 start up overhang, fairly difficult to get established above this (bolt on the left above the overhang), then gully and not easy exit, bolt at exit and bolted belay with sling

P3: 45m classic winter difficulties, 50° leftwards to the base of the gully, bolt belay with sling on the right

P4: 45m follow the gully and then continue up wide open slopes

P5: 45m classic winter difficulties up to an obvious triangle where the line joins the last belay of Koala pirla


DESCENT

Abseil down the route. Or same as the descent as Sexocet


Descending down back on the glacier
Returning to ponta Helbronner

Equipment

Cams Green alien to #3 Black diamond

1 small set of wires

5-7 QD´s

50m rope (x2 if rappelling)


Yellow line is Monia Mena / Orange Sexocet