Rjukan: Day Two

Matt, Caspian and I headed into the atmospheric Upper Gorge this morning for a rad day of classic-hunting. Ed opted for a day of folding bedsheets at the hostel because he’s a chopper because he took a fall yesterday due to a poorly-fitted crampon and sprained his ankle in the process.

Climbing as a three allowed some sa-weeeet opportunities for photo taking, and meant the frigid Norwegian belays were a little bit more enjoyable with some company.

We opted for Bakveien to start off the day, a thin grade 4 variation to the classic Nye Vemorkfoss. Three pitches sustain interest throughout with brittle pencils of ice down low, an awkward flared chimney in the middle and a fun pitch with the occasional steep step to finish. The climb was very thin in comparison with the photos in the guidebook, but easily climbable. I definitely feel like it would have been less fun in fatter nick – it’s always fun to chip your way up a delicate column of ice, knowing there’s not much else to work with – not that that stopped me hacking off blocks with some bullish technique.

Matt heads off up the first pitch of Bakveien.
Matt heads off up the first pitch of Bakveien.
Getting my thrutch on. Photo by Caspian James.
Getting my thrutch on. Photo by Caspian James.
Caspian tackling one of the short walls on the last pitch.
Caspian tackling one of the short walls on the last pitch.

Hungry for more king lines, we headed straight back down into the action and ate a leisurely lunch below Sabotorfossen, dodging the occasional falling lump of ice. The route above looked absolutely wild, with a steep and exposed finale. Before we could think too much about what we were doing, we racked up and Matt sprinted off up the slabby first pitch. The route overall provided another three sensational ropelengths, with a good alpine feel with lots of hidden chimneys choked with thick water ice.

Matt sprinting up the initial pitch of Sabotorfossen.
Matt sprinting up the initial pitch of Sabotorfossen.
Caspian making short work of the second pitch. Even got to place a cam!
Caspian making short work of the second pitch. Even got to place a cam!
Making the first moves off the belay on the steep finale.
Making the first moves off the belay on the steep finale.
Photo by Caspian James.
Photo by Caspian James.

The route is currently very hacked out, but with it being the classic grade 5 in the valley, it’s probably always quite well-traveled.

The walk out was the most weirdly industrial contrast to the climbing that we’d just done that I’ve experienced outside of Chamonix… Crawling under the huge array ofnwater pipes flowing into the Vemork power station was a surreal ending to a wicked day.

What we're really here for... industrial pipe crawling.
What we’re really here for… industrial pipe crawling.
Photo by Caspian James.
Photo by Caspian James.

The gorge is currently in fantastic condition, and didn’t seem too busy today – lots of classic lines to go at. Nye Vemorkfoss was in great nick but didn’t see a single ascent today. Trappfoss looked excellent, and Juvsoyla stands proud, dominating the whole valley.

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