Bjarte Bo leading the first pitch of Frost (A3 M5, ca. 400m, 9 pitches, Bo-Nebell, 2007) on the north face of Blamannen, near Tromso, during the chilly northern Norway winter.
[Photo] Anne Grete Nebell
Bjarte Bo and Anne Grete Nebell, well-known Norwegian climbers and authors of Klatring I Romsdal, the comprehensive guide to Norway’s most internationally famous climbing ground, have put up a new route on the north face of Blamannen in the northern part of the country. Blamannen lies on the island of Kvaoya near Tromso and perhaps came to international attention in 2005, when the accomplished Swiss climber, Didier Berthod, made a free ascent of Arctandria (A2+, 450m, Daehli-Nesheim-Nesheim, 1981), a fourteen-pitch route with a crux of 5.13c.
The north face of Blamannen is generally overhanging and composed of compact solid granite, giving a selection of mainly well-protected aid routes with about a dozen pitches. Although not that high, it definitely has a big wall feel. There are now approximately nine existing routes and two of these have been climbed free.
Bo and Nebell’s winter ascent took place from February 21-26 through mostly beautiful but cold weather. Their new line, Frost, has nine pitches and difficulties of A3 M5. The climb lies immediately right of their 1998 summer line, Pishtaco (A2 5.10a/b, 8 pitches, Bo-Nebell) and is now the route furthest right on the wall. The pair camped at the base of the wall while they fixed the first two pitches, and then climbed the face in capsule style. The first five and a half pitches used aid in discontinuous icy cracks up mostly excellent granite. Features needed to be linked but this was done with minimal drilling: on the first pitch they used a bathook to pass a dangerous flake and then drilled one bolt at the belay. The final three and a half pitches were less steep and largely climbed free. However, this section proved the scariest part of the route.
Even in late February the days in northern Norway are still quite long and it was possible to climb for around 10 hours. However, the temperature at this time of year, estimated to be -15 degrees C, really does feel very chilly when you are so close to the sea.