Climbing on frozen water is a pretty wild concept. So what could be even more fantastic? How about climbing on frozen water just above the sea! Norway is a dream destination for ice climbing. The ice formations you find here are enormous— veritable frozen big walls.
Even just driving along the fjords you get a view of some magical looking lines. This was my second trip to Norway. Once again, we were sharing this adventure with the phenomenal Philippe Batoux, who has more than his fair share of ice climbing experience.
Most of our trip was spent in the Bergen region. Sébastien Ratel had been in the same area just a few weeks before us, so he was able to give us some valuable information on the conditions. The year before, a warm spell accompanied by rain and heavy snowfall at altitude had prevented us from ice climbing. This year we were pleasantly surprised to find that there wasn’t even a centimeter of snow!
Our main objective was located in Gudvangen. The line to the right of Into the Wild, a giant 850-meter ice climb featuring a handful of sustained pitches, was in good condition. The first day, nasty rain forced us to turn back at the foot of the beast. The next day, we were finally able to have a shot at climbing it. Nonetheless, we knew that once again, nothing would be easy. Such is the nature of ice climbing 100 meters above sea level!
Having studied Seb’s photos, we quickly returned to Eidfjiord. In the Hojmo valley, we climbed a splendid line established by Canadian ice climbing master Guy Lacelle. This 350-meter route negotiates some very thin ice. On the first pitch, even the stubbiest ice screws wouldn’t go in all the way! Luckily, the crux pitch, which climbs a very fragile, transparent stalactite, can easily be protected with cams.
More than anything else, Norway offers amazing ice formations with wildly overhanging features. The conditions can be unpredictable due to the widely fluctuating temperatures. For certain routes, the elevation is no higher than that of Marseille. Norway is also the land of delicious salmon canapés, giant tunnels (some with roundabouts right in the middle), and breathtaking landscapes. We love it!
Fly to Bergen, then rent a car.
It is easy to rent small, reasonably priced bungalows in Norway.
A couple of routes:
Flamdalen “Capitain Flam” WI 5+ 200 m
Gudvangen “Veldasfossen” WI 6+ 350m, acrobatic overhanging mushrooms of ice… superb!
Gudvangen, route to the right of “Into the Wild,” 850m WI 6/6+, huge…
Gudvangen “Les Coureurs de Glaçons” WI 6+ 300 m
Holjmo “Cascade de Guy Lacelle” 350 m WI 6+, thin ice and good chocolate…
Gol (the Cerviéres of Norway…)
Mo “Kjorlyfossen” WI 5+ 350 m
Eidfiord, Vorringfossen area
Freakyfossen WI 7+ 500 m, a work in progress…