Thursday, July 26, 2012


Nikki and I have just returned from a two week trip to a very cold, wet and windy Lofoten Islands. The place would be cragging paradice if the weather was half decent! We flew to Kiruna in Northern Sweden (Cheaper flights and much, much cheaper car hire) and drove east to Lofoten. With the frustratingly slow Norwegian speed limit (80 kph) the drive took about six hours.

Then, in the evening light, the Presten loomed into view. A beautiful granite slab, five hundred metres high and home to Vestpillaren the route I was most psyched to climb.

The Presten in all her glory.
The first route we climbed was the excellent Piano Handler Lund's Route. A real fun Hard Severe with a couple of interesting jamming sections. The next day we climbed two brilliant routes Applecake and Light and Shade. The Lofoten Islands are really beautiful and we were really enjoying the granite cragging and the scenic views. 

Nikki topping out on the excellent Piano Handler Lund's Route.
Nikki on Applecake Arete.
The cost of living in Norway is astronomical. Thankfully there is free camping at the bottom of Gandalf one of the most popular crags. We had a pleasant day climbing there. Enjoying Guns and Roses (although I wussed out of the steeping jamming section), Gandalf and the first pitch of Gamle Rev, a really fun E1. I would have like to climb the second pitch, but rain stopped play.

Our campsite at Gandalf.
Nikki on Gandalf.

Four days of unwelcome rain followed, when it cleared up we headed west to the end of the islands for a change of scene. We climbed a HVS slab climb called Sea Breeze. It gets top 50 in the Rockfax, but I'm not convinced either of authors had climbed it to check! It does have some good climbing with lots of bold slab padding. It also has some pretty crappy over grown climbing and some loose rock. The clag came in at pitch 4 and the by the penultimate (crux) pitch it was raining lightly, which made for challenging climbing. Nikki knocked a big block off and watched it bounce down the slabs, across the road, narrowly missing our hire car and into the sea. I thought this was pretty cool, but it freaked Nikki out a bit. At the top of the route we were both pretty drench. We then spent the next few hours abseiling down the wrong descent gully, which was now a scary, loose waterfall.

Sea Breeze.
It's getting atmospheric.
A traumatized Nikki.
Abseiling down Death Gully...

Back at the car, soaked to the skin.
The next day the weather cleared up and after drying all our gear in the sun we had an enjoyable climbing at Festvag. We started with a cool E1 called Cuckoo Crack. As I arrived at the top the easy access pitch the leader of the team in front of us whimpered, "take" and then proceeded to take a horrible gear ripping inverted fall. Thankfully she was ok, but I was pretty sure Nikki was going to have use her doctoring skills.

The crux pitch wasn't too bad and I laced it with even more gear than usual. The top half was superb with brilliant, steep climbing on massive hold with good gear. In the afternoon we climbed a crowded Puffin Club, which was also very good. The layback section through the overhang on pitch 2 was excellent.

Nikki on pitch one of Puffin Club.
The next day we went to do Vestpillaren, but there were already eight parties on it at 10 am so we sacked it off. The next day it rained again and continued to do so for the rest of our trip. I'll definitely be back to climb it though.

A cool fountain thingy near Narvik that we stopped to look at on the drive back.
If anyone wants any beta on how to do Lofoten on the cheap get in touch. 

It pays to be attentive in Norway - Our crag swag haul after two weeks!

1 comment:

  1. Good report and bad luck with the weather. We have been up there about six times, often for five weeks at a time and have never had more than odd day or two of wet weather per trip.
    At least you got a few of the classics done.