mandag 24. desember 2012

The summer that was, Part 4!

In part 1, I wrote about the epic canoe trip Ole and I had in Lærdal. At the time I thought the video files where lost on my (still stuck in the mail!) iMac, but as it turns out I had backed them up :) So, after a bit of editing, I am now proud to present the canoe short: 

Part 4

After some "well deserved" vacation time in Norway, (much needed after a winter of hard redpoint climbing in Spain), it was time to do some (payed) work and start saving up for the coming winter. 

In a time where most of Europe is suffering from one financial crisis or the other it´s great to be Norwegian.
The Norwegian "krone" is stronger then ever and saving up enough to live in Spain each winter requires a bare minimum of work on my part.
When I come to think about it, the only reasons I actually have to do a bit of work is because photo and videography is so freaking expensive...

I worked in a "normal" job (driving a forklift in a warehouse) for about 2 months in one of those long summers of my youth. That is probably the longest I ever did the 9-4 thing.  

Now a days I do all sorts of odd jobs like route-setting, bolting, photo gigs and so on for short amounts of time, and then usually only when I feel like it. 
Mid summer, from the end of june until sometime in august, is the only time a year I work more then a couple of weeks.
This is when I go to the mountains!

"My mountain home, "Kassa", parked in front of Hurrungane" 

When people ask me what I do up there, I usually just tell them I work as a mountain guide.
In reality what I do is more coursing then actual guiding. I guess the correct term would be something like a high mountain climbing instructor.

To those that might wonder, the difference is that while the guide works with clients on one day trips and drags them up on what ever mountain they choose. 
I work with the same people on week long courses where they are supposed to learn something, and maybe more importantly, I get to choose where to go.

For me personally this makes for a much more diverse and interesting way of taking people up into the mountains. Not only do I get to know the people better and see them progress during the week (which is rewarding on it´s own) but you get away from the grind of doing the same thing every day, and that makes all the difference.

There are many company´s offering a wide array of courses and guided tours in my part of the mountains "Jotunheimen", and having worked for most of them, my favourite employer is currently Breoppleving. 
Breoppleving (directly translated to something like glacier experience/adventure) have what I think is the best course where, ironically enough, I do not have to do any glacier walking. But I get ahead of myself.

This summer started as they usually do with a "Fjellsport 1" (Mountainsport 1) course for DNT (The Norwegian Tourist association). I tag along on this course almost every year to get back into the mountain thing and hang out with some of my old instructor buddies Hans Petter Håkonsen and Bjørn Balle. 

                                                                        "Petter the pirate"
"Bjørn the bear"

Working with these two guys makes this poorly paid and demanding course worth while. We always have a great time telling jokes, play around and when there are young couples, ruthlessly flirt with the poor guys girlfriend.

"Bjørn teaches the couple about spotting"

The course itself consists of 2 days on a glacier, 2 days at the crag and 2 days on semi guided mountain trips + 1 evening with meet and greet, going through the gear and so on. 

As I have many courses during the summer I will not bore you with the details of each one but rather display some pictures from the different trips that hopefully showcasts the essence of what it´s all about.

It should be said that I never bother taking pictures with anything but my heavy 5D rig, and as I rarely bring my camera out if the weather is bad, the pictures tell a story of nice weather, that is not necessarily the case most of the time.

DNT Fjellsport 1, July, Krossbu, Jotunheimen, (Norway)

"On our way to Skeia (2100+ meters) way early in the morning, Hurrungane in the background"

"Bjørn attempting "the mountain leap" over the Smørstabtind´s. Skeia is second from the right"

"The ridge between Kalven and Skeia just before I lost my 50mm down in a deep hole..."

I did luckily manage to fish my lens out a week later using some fishing equipment a couple of telescope poles and a spoon, and thanks to Canon´s great build quality the lens was unharmed even after having rolled/fallen down several meters on rocks and literally speaking lain on ice for a week.  

"At the base of the climbing, Skeia rising up in the left corner of the picture" 

"Climbing (a new variation) on Skeia"

"The couple we decided to play around with, here coiling the ropes after finishing the climbing"

"The girlfriend posing for my camera after skilfully having been separated from her boyfriend"

The second mountain on this course was Store Austabotntind (2200+ meters). The weather was not great, and as one of the guys got sick I got to turn back and lead him back down after just an hour and a half.
Forgetting that my car keys was locked into another car then the one we borrowed to drive back to camp, I ended up spending a couple of hours learning how to break into my own car instead.
This was surprisingly easy using the oil measuring pin and a Swiss army knife (Macgyver style) to fish pick the lock wire at the front window.

Breoppleving Fjellsport, July, Lom/Hurrungane, Jotunheimen

After finishing the Fjellsport 1 course for DNT, I was off to solo instructing (something I prefer to avoid as it is more work and responsibility) on a 3 person customised "Fjellsport" course for Breoppleving.

Since I had lost a camera lens up on Skeia the week before I brought my new group up there as well so that I could fish it back out (which I did!).
 It was snowing almost all the way down to Krossbu and we saw no more then 10 meters in front of us all day. The climbing was suddenly in "winter" conditions with ice and snow all around, but I got no pictures of that as the camera remained in the car.

The second trip got canceled as two of the three had to go home and the last girl bailed as the weather forecast was horrible.
We did however get a few nice days down at the crag in Lom where I set them to work on multipitch trad climbing.

"The first pitch, grade 4-ish"

"The second pitch, grade 3-ish, "hanging" belay in a tree 20 meters off the deck"

"Great view of the "Lom delta" from the top of Tronoberget" 

Breoppleving Klatrekurs i Lom og Hurrungane, July, Hurrungane, Jotunheimen

Next up was my favourite course, Klatrekurs i Lom/Hurrungane, (Climbing course in Lom and Hurrungane).
This course gives me the opportunity to hang out in Lom and climb at the crag for 2-3 days, got no glacier coursing and only contains 2 "hard" days of walking in the mountains. 
The mountain climbing is of course great, but the problem is the long walk in and out. To get to the climbing we usually have to hike 1000 vertical meters up before we even tie in. Then walking the same or more back down is a killer on my knees if I do it often.

Breoppleving usually attracts a reasonably young clientele with the occasional 40 year old here and there. This time for some strange reason the occasional 40 year olds all ended up on the same course, making for an unusual but great week for me with both a dinner inside the way expensive hotel Turtagrø and a tip at the end of the course.
Added to this I got an apprentice to look out for and give a written review.

The groupe dynamics where great, my apprentice could take care of herself and for the first and hardest trip, we got lucky with the weather. The goal was Dyrhaugsryggen from the south and yes, I brought my camera. 

"The exposed first pitch in the morning fog" 

"The fog lifting as we reach the third belay"

"My apprentice leading up the crux pitch"

"Following on the "crux", Norway's third highest mountain Store Skagadølstind (2405m) in the back"

"Moving out of the "chimney" on the final pitch"

"Mountain jumping!"

"Leaping the Skagadølstind" 

(I sold a similar picture last year that now hangs on big national park posters down in Lom.)

"A happy crew at the end of the Dyrhaugsrygg traverse" 

On the final trip we went to "Store Austabotntind" at 2200+ meters. The weather was bad with a strong wind, fog and rain/snow. One girl bailed at the beginning because of the weather and all the slippery rocks and on the final ridge a second decided to turn back. My apprentice waited with him in a survival bag (as seen here in one of the only pictures I tok that day) while I ran to the top and back with the only guy left standing.

"Close but no cigar, a few hundred meters from the top"

While walking off the mountain, marking the end of the course, my next group was already gathering down at the car park.. 
Tired, wet and cold I entered the camp to welcome the new crew while still saying my farewells to the old. 
With no downtime I was now starting the dreaded hardest course of the summer, Fjellsport II for DNT. 5 days + 1 evening, a one day trip and a two day trip (with sleeping out in the mountain!), one day on a glacier and just one "rest" day at the crag... 

But in the spirit of not making epic long blog posts I will keep the story of the rest of my mountain summer for Part 5.
Stay tuned and marry christmas!

fredag 14. desember 2012

A brief glance at the present while still lingering in the past..

My ambitions to update the blog to the present before things started happening down here in Spain did (as you probably know by now) not really go as planed..

Basically since we got down here the house has been crowded with people and things have been happening left and right.
It started out with loads of wet holds in the cave and nothing going down the first week and a half.  Then it finally dried up in one windy night and Hannah, looking very strong, immediately sent her long time project, la Novena Puerta (8c+).

"Hannah getting close to the mid rest 8b+/8c on one of her attempts in the spring" ©Henning Wang

La Novena Puerta (The Ninth Gate) is the first part of La Novena Enmienda 9a/+ that Magnus did back in the day (the Magnus video can be found here:)

Hannah´s accent was the first female accent of the route, the hardest route climbed by a girl in the Santa Linya cave, basically one of the hardest climbs done by a girl in all of Spain.
I will not say the world, as I have no way to compare the routes here to the routes in for instance the Red River George, (or the much harder routes Jousune climbed in Switzerland back in the day) so I will leave it at Spain.

Previously two Austrian girls (Johanna and Angela) have climbed "8c+" in Santa Linya, but as the routes in question never actually was 8c+ I will say that Hannah is the first to do a proper one here.
To those climbing geeks out there that wonder wtf I´m talking about I will give a short explanation for my conclusions:
- Angela did Ingravids Eskerpes Extension before the hold broke (much easier crux section), basically about as hard as Rollito Sharma Extension is now (8c).
- Johanna did Open your Mind that has the strange guidebook grade of 8c/+. People log it at as 8c+ for the points, but the reality is that its about the same as Fabelita (8c) and much easier then Fabela (8c+), the benchmark routes going out from the same start...

But enough about the present, I am telling a story of the past :)

The Summer that was, Part 3!

Now in my story of the summer that was I had just retuned from Flatanger to Sogndal to take some pictures of Rockstar Adam Ondra crushing Lars Ole´s routes at Kvam. (se the summer that was, part 2)

It was then time for the great yearly boulder comp at the extreme sports week at Voss, and with a rainy weather forecast, we got Adam to tag along.
The money prices here are fairly good and Magnus usually turns up to take it home. With Adam now in the comp and a short notice for the route-setters, the stage was set for a great show.
As per usual I brought my camera along and shot some video when I did not climb myself.
A bit limited by time and other projects here I decided to just make a short quick clip from the finals:

I also helped out filming Dag Hagen from the Norwegian climbing magazine (Norsk Klatring) do an interview with Adam about his tour of Norway. Fun to watch as we now know that he would go on to put up possibly the hardest route in the world in Flatanger!

Voss has been one of the best Norwegian boulder comps for a long time, mainly because the most important criteria for a comp is usually met, that is, good climbers actually show up..
The route-setting is good and the atmosphere great even thought the comp has been plagued by rain the last few years.
How ever there is a couple of huge flaws that, even thought I love to compete there, will not see me compete again (at least not until the issues are dealt with...)

- Flaw one: The entry fee... This year it was up to staggering 425 kr (58 euros)! for about 1 hour of bouldering, that is one hour for the most of us that have no shot at the final and the money prices...

- Flaw two: The party fee... a one day pass to the festival is about 500+ kr, almost half the price of the entire week, making it way to expensive to go into the festival tent when you only come for the boulder comp (I did how ever manage to sneak in and not pay anything, but that is besides the point).
The summary I guess is that Voss is a great comp, but one that I can no longer afford to go to...

onsdag 21. november 2012


Aka. The summer that was, part 2

I first visited Hanshelleren in Flatanger about 5-6 years ago. 
Back then I was recovering from a broken arm, and in a weekend I only just managed to get up a 7a+..
Fortunately much has happened since then:) 

As I was driving up from Sogndal in my, still clinging to life, VW Camper, I was really psyched to view the cave again with new "stronger" eyes.

Flatanger has gotten a lot of focus in the climbing media this year, this of course mainly because of the best rock climber in the world today, Adam Ondra, establishing the worlds first 9b+ here this fall. (Yes that´s right, the hardest route in the world is now in Norway!)
Because of this I find that a lot of people think this is a newly discovered area, and that the cave itself is called Flatanger.
I will correct that right now... Flatanger is the name of the area, an area with several walls and loads of potential for more, the cave itself is called Hanshelleren.

        "Jarle looking up at Hanshelleren, some of the other walls in Flatanger in the background" 

It is not really a new area either, people have been climbing in Hanshelleren for about 20 years, that is longer then Adam Ondra has been alive:) 

"Støm in Flatanger seen from the approach to Hanshelleren. The festival camp at the farm to the left"

Before it´s recent attention, the hardest route in Hanshelleren was no harder then 8b. This due to Flatanger being in the middle of nowhere, around a 3 hours drive from the nearest city (whit a community of climbers), Trondheim, my hometown, and of course the fact that Norwegians before Magnus Midtbø never reached a level higher then 8c.. 

In Hanshelleren, like in most cave features, the wall gets less steep towards the sides. The sidewall here is still overhanging, huge, well featured and would be a great crag on it´s own. And yes, you guessed it, this is where the old routes are mainly located.

"Malin Holmberg at the final anchor (not even half way up the wall) of kykkelikokos (7b+, 30m) on Hanshellerens sidewall"

"Magnus belaying Jakob on the second accent of Helt på Kanten 8a, the sidewall in the background"

"Jakob on the second accent of Helt på Kanten 8a, the inner part of the cave behind him"

The inner part of the cave, now featuring the hardest lines, was mostly left alone as something for the future. 
In light of resent events, or more to the point, accents, I guess one can say that that future is now upon us.

"Lars Ole trying the first "hard" new line inside the cave, Nordic Flower 8c/+"

My trip to Flatanger this year (late june) was unfortunately not just to hang out and climb, but also to work as an instructor at the climbing festival.
This meant that I could not climb in the cave during some of the best conditions in the morning and during the day, but had to wait until the evening on most of my days. 
Still, getting payed to be there and getting to do some climbing is not such a bad deal :)

On my first day in the cave I immediately got on a old project left by a friend of mine (Steini).
I got some beta from Tarjei that it was sharp and that the start was very hard or even unclimbed, but as the rest of the wall was in the sun, I decided to give it a go anyway and decide for myself. 
To my eyes the project looked both doable and not to sharp. It also offered the potentially to make a hard first accent.

The start did indeed involve maybe the hardest move on the whole route, but after a few tries we found a weird almost above the head kneebar beta that somehow worked.
I got in a few goes, but after falling in the redpoint crux in the middle a few times, I realised I would need at least another day to get it done. 

"Me on the redpoint crux undercling sequence"

When Sindre and Jarle then showed up keen to try, I did not see any point in trying to keep them from it, after all the route was an open project.  

After Sindre and Jarle had gone through the moves once, Magnus also showed up and asked if he could have an on-sight attempt.
As I mentioned before the start boulder was super weird and technical and I had serious doubts that even Magnus would be able to figure it out on-sight. 

"Magnus on-sight on the technical start crux"

Magnus, more technical then he maybe gets credit for, showed skills and found the kneebar after just a little hanging around. After the start he easily managed to muscle his way through the rest for the on-sight first accent of Dverg Trollet 8a+ (norwegian 9-/9).

"Magnus on-sighting the final crux of Dverg Trollet 8a+ on the first accent"

Sindre then closely followed with a second accent. 

"Sindre at the end of the mid crux on the second accent of Dverg Trollet 8a+"

I came back 2 more evenings, once with Lars Ole who got the third accent, and at last again with Sindre before I finally managed to get up as number 4, the first accent long forgotten, just happy to get up:)

As I was teaching on the more beginner friendly walls down by the festival camp during the "Pro comp" on Odins Eye, I did not get any pictures of Magnus, Ethan or Dani´s attempts.. 
After the festival I did how ever get up in my rope to capture Ethan Pringle´s first accent of his monster 50 meter link-up route, Nordic Plummer (8c+).

The Plummer starts in Nordic Flower and climbs most of the hard first part of this (8b+) before branching of into a 7b+-ish new section of 4-5 bolts put up by Ethan before joining the second pitch of Magnus project, a super pumpy 8b. 
(The full two pitches of Magnus project was later done by Adam Ondra and named Thors Hammer 9a+.) 
"Ethan bolting the link. First anchor of Thors to the left, the draws going right is Nordic" 

"Ethan in one of the many kneebars people don´t seem to find on the first part of Nordic Flower"

"Ethan using some funky beta on the second crux of Nordic Flower part 1 (8b+)"

"Ethan in the middle of Thors Hammers second pitch. The belayers tiny head can be seen down in the middle of the picture"

"Ethan still looking strong after 40 meters in the roof" 

"Ethan on his first link attempt just before pumping out on the final crux rail"

"Ethan on the final pumpy crux rail on the first accent of Nordic Plummer 8c+"  

lørdag 17. november 2012

A summary of the summer that was

A bad internet connection (and then I mean back to the 90´s bad!) at the casa in Santa Linya + a tendency to write time consuming small essays, not short blog posts... made me give up on the blogging once more after the January post.

Now equipped with a brand new Macbook Pro (with Retina and shit!), I am able to go out to where the good internet can be found:) If I find it I´ll give the blogging another go.
This time (as the previous times of course) with every intention of keeping my posts somewhat brief in words with some pictures and maybe a video thrown in every now and again.

What happened in Spain the last 4 months after January I will not even try to get into,
but some small parts of it can be found on the blogs of friends:

Since past events have a tendency to affect the present and the future o_O. Some bits and pieces of this "black information hole" might appear in a "flashback" kinda way once I get to the present and this years happenings down here in Spain.
Until then, what ever happened, is for me to know and you to ....

I will start this new (not counting) attempt at blogging (as the title would suggest) somewhere around the beginning of the summer a month or two after having returned from Spain.

Since I haven´t just been chilling, I will make it as brief as I can and probably forget or just skip a lot to catch up to the present.

The summer that was, part 1

The day after I returned to Sogndal, I went out with my good friend Ole Karsten Birkeland to bolt some new routes at a crag called Hønjum in Lærdal. The crag had 3 routes from before but had been abandoned for a long time (5-10 years or something).
The local farmer wanted climbers to come (the wall is like 30 meters from he´s house), so he had called Ole a week before, and now we where there.

It is not known what had been climbed of the old routes, but since there was some tape in the first bolt on one of them (and no chalk even tho it never gets wet) I am guessing at least that one was unclimbed.

After cleaning all the holds I sent it within a few tries and it became Jedi Mind Tricks 7c+, a future super classic for sure (if people actually go there that is...)
3/4 is mainly a crack climb (and I am quite sure it could be climbed on gear...), but since bolts where in already and we where unsure of the rock quality, I used the bolts. (For shame!) I am psyched to come back and do it clean on gear next spring tho, but having used the bolts to work it I will leave them in.

Here are a few pictures of Ole Karsten and Anders on the route.

"Ole eyeing up the "jug" at the top of the crack" 

"Anders enjoying the rest at the top of the crack"

 "Anders faces the really funky mantel move after the crack part"

"Ole just before he slipped of the funky mantel move"

The new routes we bolted are all either easy, unfinished or hard projects we where not able to do in the few days we spent there.

Here is a picture of my team mate and local talent Olav on one of the old routes we figured was around 7a (or was it +?) 
"Team Vertikal climber Olav the talent"

Sogndal is a great place to be in the spring. Climbing conditions can be really good, and there is still snow in the mountains.
On the Norwegian nations birthday (May 17), Ole and I decided against standing downtown all dressed up waving our flags and went up on one of the local mountains (25 min drive) to ski.
As much a nationalistic way of celebrating the country as any amount of flag waving in my book.

For me this was the first (and only) skiing trip this season. As far as I can remember I didn´t ski at all the year before, and as I am now back in Spain, this ski season will probably pass me by as well.
No matter, I still managed to both get up the mountain and down, rock the telemark turn with the proficiency of a scared novice and somehow not fall even thought I really should have several times.

"Ole at the parking, the mountain way off in the back there somewhere"

"Ole doing he´s thing"

About a week later, Ole and I went back across the fjord to Lærdal. This time to do some white water river canoeing.
Canoeing was something we both did when we studied "Outdoor life" or "Friluftsliv" in Bø in Telemark. I did it on a few trips one year, Ole did it a bit more over 2 years, but after that none of us had been back in a canoe..
Something that meant we where in the 5-10 years whit out practice group that think they´r still really good at it. 
When I come to think about it, I doubt I was ever really good at in the first place, at least that was what hit me when I found myself in some freezing cold water next to the canoe in a grade 3 rapid desperately trying to find a way out.

The whole trip was my kind of classic "epic". We picked up a couple of huge open flat water canoes from the early  90´s, drove up to what seemed like a never ending rapid with loads of big waves (much bigger then what we ever encountered back in Bø). Did next to no scouting of what came after the initial never ending rapid, and just went for it.

I am sad to say I have no pictures.. I did do some gopro filming, but the camera drowned when the casing broke (shit happens when you flip the canoe and the camera starts hitting the rocks...)
The clip of the flip is kinda funny, but I will have to add that later as it is stored on the iMac that at the moment is traveling in the mail somewhere between Norway and Spain.

We did manage pretty well, Ole stayed out of the water (he got lucky basically..), while I went swimming twice... The second time because we got bored of stopping to empty the boats and to much water spilled in. The canoe decided to sink after we cleared the last rapid and where supposed to be home free down in the fjord...

"Since I have no picture, here is a random shot of Sogndal at night from around the same time"

After our little river adventure it was back to business as usual, climbing:) 
I don´t remember that much of the when and where´s, but I know we where a bit all over the place those few weeks the really good conditions lasted.
One of those good days where at Beachen in Stryn whit Ole and Ragnhild, where I managed to onsight warm up on a 7b/+ bouldery route and then go on to flash Aloha (7b+) and onsight Frimureren (7c) before catching a bus to Trondheim for the celebration of my grandmothers 90-th!!! birthday.  
"Ole working Luhr på Tur 7c+, Beachen"

Once I returned from Trondheim the good conditions had gone and summer heat seemed to have set in.
Lead climbing was out of the picture, but reasonably good conditions could still be found on some of Lars Ole´s newly discovered boulders.
Being my usual weak self, I found the new "main" boulder way hard, and after a few session with little progress I gave up, deciding it was time I got back on plastic to recover some of that lost bouldering strength I probably never possessed in the first place.

"Lars Ole on the lower part of the main project line (Plomme something?) 8A+/8B-ish"

I did not spend that much time indoors thought before I again found myself hanging outside in a rope.
This time to reequip some of the best crags on the western coast of Norway, Avsnes and Myggveggen with my friend Jarle Kalland for the Norwegian climbing federation (NKF).

"Not exactly how it went down maybe, but close enough:) photo by Hannah Midtbø"

A video I made for the Norwegian Climbing federation from the project can be seen here:

or at:

Sometime around there Ole and I went down to Bergen for a few days to watch Børres deep water competition and of course do some climbing of our own. 
I forgot to upload pictures from the comp here when I was at the faster internet earlier, but some of the best can be seen in one of the last issues of the norwegian climbing magazine Norsk Klatring.

In Bergen I also managed to flash a 7c+ Ole seemed to be struggling with, something that never fails to bring me loads of joy and Ole a lot of frustration and pressure to get up.
Ole did somehow manage to pull him self together and get up the route, the way I remember it, much to  both he´s own and my surprise.

After Bergen I returned to Myggveggen with Hannah, Jarle, (one guy I can´t remember the name of now, sorry!), Kiffen and Knut´n to try some of the routes I did not get to climb on while Jarle and I where bolting.

The conditions and amount of "knott" (small extremely annoying mini mosquitos) changed a lot during the few days we where there, but during some of those windows with reasonably good conditions we where able to send a couple of really good routes:)
"Jarle on the manufactured Material Tetthet (8b), a testament to a darker side of 90´s ethics"   

"Me on the classic Helse i Fokus 7c+/8a"

"Hannah on Antarktis 8a/+, one of the best routes I´v climbed in Norway"

"Hannah on the last part of Antarktis on her crazy in the middle of the sun send"

Sometime not to long after this I went up to Flatanger for the festival. I worked much of the time so missed the "pro comp" on Odins Eye, but still managed to get some climbs done and get some, in my opinion, really cool pictures (just none from Odin Eye....).

I will upload some of the pics and write a bit more about that and "rockstar" Adam Ondra´s visit to Sogndal in a few days for part 2 of "the summer that was", so stay tuned:)