UNCLIMBED ICEFALLS ABOVE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE

Posted on: April 27, 2007


Aljaz Anderle begins the steepest, tallest icefall (200m) near Salangen, Troms, Norway. Anderle, Urban Golob and Klemen Premrl spent the first two weeks of February repeating and establishing ice and mixed climbs above the Arctic Circle. Guy Lacelle, who happened to join the Slovenian trio in Norway, established Europe's most northerly mixed climbs at Salangen crag earlier this year. [Photo] Urban Golob

During the first two weeks of February I joined two other Slovenian climbers—Aljaz Anderle and Klemen Premrl—for a trip to Norway, where we relished excellent ice conditions. Our trip took us far above the Arctic Circle to cold weather, especially comparted to Middle Europe. At Tromso Airport it was fifteen degrees C below zero; on the climbs it was even colder. But the ice monsters we encountered, some 600-meters tall, easily made the weather bearable.

Klemen Premrl on the first ascent of Ha en Fin Dag (Have a Nice Day, WI 5, 270m), Bardujord, Troms, Norway. [Photo] Urban Golob

A couple Norwegians, including Marius Olsen, joined us from the south, as did some locals. Canadian ice climbing legend, Guy Lacelle, was also in the area for a couple of weeks. We first traveled to the backcountry of the Troms region. In the valley of Sordalen on February 3, Aljaz and Klemen repeated a huge icefall (WI 5+, 600m) in just four hours. Despite cold and windy weather two days later, Klemen and I established Ha en Fin Dag (Have a Nice Day, WI 5, 270m) near Setermoen.

Earlier this year, Guy put up two mixed routes—Social Club (M6+) and Pull Harder You Fat Bastard (M7+/8-)—at Salangen. Guy showed us the area, which has a number of short, easy ice routes (and one long, steep one) in addition to his mixed lines. These climbs are the only mixed routes above the Arctic Circle in Europe, but there is lots of potential for more drytooling in the area.

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We then moved to Senja, a relatively unexplored and beautiful, but windy, island. With all its mountains, Senja Island is a promised land, not only for ice climbers, but also for alpinists, freeriders, skiers and everyone who enjoys wild nature in harsh conditions. On February 10 Aljaz and Klemen climbed another new route (WI 4+, 300m) on south face of Mt. Hesten above the Gulf of Bergfjorden. Immediately after the ascent, a storm dropped fresh snow, which cancelled our plans for a couple days.

We tried to overcome the weather two days before returning home, but we were caught in an avalanche near Ersfjord. Luckily we swam out of the river of moving snow—uninjured—after a 300-meter wild ride. After this close call we made a trip to the local pub for a beer on our last evening in Norway. That beer was something really special; each glass was seven Euros, and we didn't even mind.

Klemen Premrl approaches a new route (WI 4+, 300m) he established with Anderle on the south face of Mt. Hesten, the obvious peak above the Gulf of Bergfjorden. "With all its mountains and ice lines above the fjords," Golob said, "Senja Island is a paradise for ice climbers." [Photo] Urban Golob

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