Rampage with Andreas
Adventuring with Andreas is like a drug. Must be something about how our personalities combine. The superposition of our motivation just escalates into a heightened experience. When all of my plans for the summer and fall suddenly fell apart. Restless and looking for something to fill the void I called Andreas. His work needed two weeks’ notice to take some time off and had some new routes he was keen to climb. Perfect, two weeks, I could find something to do in southern Norway for two weeks before heading home via Narvik. I put rampage with Andreas in my calendar, finally knowing when I would get my next fix, I could relax.
Fast forward two weeks. After driving 13 hours straight from Trondheim we started to look at the weather. Rain, overcast, a pocket of sunshine, rain. We had one goal for the week. Survive. After realizing that that was pretty attainable, we added the caveat that we didn’t want to bail so hard that we left a whole climbing rack on a wall. With the bad weather in the fjords we weren’t positive we would get the weather for the new route we wanted to do until Tuesday, so we decided to go to Lofoten were somehow the weather is always good enough to climb. The plan was to drive Friday afternoon and then climb Storpillaren through the night when we arrived. We invited Alexander the Great to join us as he had been wanting to climb Storpillaren for a while but needed a partner. Storpillaren is a mega classic pillar on the north side of Vågakallen. Steep, long, sustained climbing with a serious approach and final runout slab pitch that has invoked dread in countless climbers, it was a worthy objective!
On the way to Lofoten it rained. To be fair, it was forecasted but we had been checking the weather for svolvær. After an hour of deliberating the weather we decided we would try. That the cloulds swirling around the summit would blow away in the middle of the night and we would climb the route with the midnight sun. We did the first hour of the approach and were about to commit to the sketchy
exposed slab section of the approach when Alexander brought up what we were all thinking… What are we doing heading up here with this weather? We agreed we weren’t looking for an epic, so we turned tail and headed back out again. Halfway back to the car the pillar started to clear up again, but we stayed firm to our good decision. Andreas went to meet some friends for a beer while Alexander and I climbed Bingekos. Not in the latest guidebook, but it’s a nice N7- starting to the right of Vårkåt on Jomfrupillaren. First short pitch isnt that great, but the second pitch goes through a roof and then up a short offwith (too wide for big cams, just don’t fall ;) , Third pitch is a nice finger crack that then goes out over a roof and the 4 pitch offers nice climbing to the top. Recommend.
Looking at the weather we decided to adopt the motto, Presten, Festen, Storpillaren. The weather was supposed to be fairly good on Saturday before turning sour in the afternoon evening. The sun was supposed to come back in the middle of the night Sunday and monday. We would climb presten. Enjoy the social life and have a good evening in Henningsvær. Sunday we would sleep in and we would climb Storpillaren through the night.
First two parts of the plan went off without a hitch. We climbed Korstoget, 11 pitches with one N7 crux pitch that andreas wanted to lead since he followed it last time. Alexander and I had only ever climbed korstoget to storhylla before. We split the rest of the N6 pitches between us and block led up. Happy to let Andreas have the technical crux pitch as it started to rain as he was doing the final meters, luckily it dried up quickly. Festen, also went quite well. It feels like all of Norway is in Lofoten this summer and unexpected friends and acquaintances were appearing around every corner. With all the Covid restrictions most of us spent the evening standing outside Trevarefabrikken unable to get inside.
Presten on the left, hangover after festen on the right
Sunday the weather was uncertain and not as good as initially forecasted. Frustrated after driving to lofoten only to climb Presten and party we decided we would wake up at 3 am and check the weather. If it was good, we would give it a go, if not we would go back to bed before climbing something less committing. The alarm rang, the weather was good, we fired up the Bialetti in Andy’s van and drove over to Kalle. Left the car at 4:10 and made quick work of the approach. The whole pillar was in the sun and the mood was much lighter than before. The seriousness cameback as we tried to find the based way across the exposed wet slabs. Definitely the most uncomfortable and dangerous part of the whole experience. In the sun, with best of Iron Maiden blasting on the bluetooth speaker andreas racked up for his block and were on our way at 6am.
The rock quality is outstanding, amazing friction. Andreas had been on the route once four years ago so he was able to climb the first two easy pitches quickly before getting to the first 7- After a traverse and a steep crack/chimney we split the pitch before continuing up the dihedral with the thin crack. Though less physical than the crux pitch, I found this to be the most difficult pitch of the route and happily pulled through on the cams as my new shoes weren’t broken inn enough for the strenuous smearing. Up on the big ledge in the sun Alexander took the rack for his block. The grade 7 crux is pumpy and sustained but well protected, Alex made it look easy on the onsight and continued up the next pitch as well. I was supposed to take the next 7- pitch but let Andreas take it for the sake of efficiency after feeling insecure after being shut down by the 7- dihedral. Andreas made quick work of the steep chimney before rocking over onto the exposed slabby ramp. After following in goodstyle I took the rack disappointed I didn’t just lead the pitch like originally planned. The next 6+ turned out to be funky enough with some thin hands crack and tricky traverse under and out a roof. Continuing up the climbing started to get easier as we got higher on the pillar.
Still in the sun, blogging at the belays, blasting iron maiden the whole day the route was quite a comfortable playful outing for being such a big route. Being on the north face the sun eventually disappeared around the mountain as we were up on the final ridge. I put Alexander the Great, a song by Iron Maiden, on the speaker as Alex climbed the infamous 6- pitch. An exposed friction move on a slab were a fall would end up with a helicopter rescue. Up on top we were in the sun again, after taking a second to eat some food and drink up our remaining water, started with .5l each, we started on the descent. First we took one rappel before scrambling around looking for the trail up to vågakallen. The first person we met on the trail was my friend Marius who was out for a run. He agreed to give us a ride back to the car before continuing up to the summet. We walked down to djupfjord, happy with a time of 13 hours and 40 minutes and having spent most of the day in the sun. We agreed that climbing on a cold windy cloudly night would have been a much more serious endeavor. Celebrated with a burger and beer at Klatrekafeen before heading back to Gnarvik.
The weather was quite good the next day, but our skin was wrecked from the coarse granite and our muscles were sore. We drove to skjomen with a pair of binoculars looking for new routes. Unfortunately, a line we were hoping to climb looked like an impossible combination of compact slabs and overlaps. To serious for us to undertake in a push without a bolt kit. We left that route behind as we planned for a project in Efjord the next day. The weather forecast had changed again and we decided to bail upon reaching the parking lot, not wanting to leave our rack on the wall. Instead we drove to stiberg for some nice single pitch climbing. Amazing cracks definitely need to come back here another time!
The next day we were planning to go back to efjord but it was raining while we woke up and again the weather forecast was worse upon waking up in morning. Frustrated we decided to take quick lap on the east ridge of Kuglhorn. An absolute classic ridge climb. Some snow is still on the approach slabs, so we did a variation up to the ridge before we let Alexander the great practice short roping us. I felt like a dog on the leash, but it was surprisingly fun just taking a quick trip in this alpine terrain moving quickly, climbing and scrambling in just running shoes.
Again, the weather for the weekend was better in Lofoten than in Gnarvik but with andreas needing to work on Monday we decided to end our weeklong rampage. I drove to lofoten again while Andreas stayed in gnarvik. Though disappointed not to do all the routes we were hoping on doing we were satisfied to have had good discussions, made good decisions and are stoked on the next adventure. Good weather, good climbing partners, free time and the right motivation. They are the stars that need to align, looking forward to the next time climbing with Andreas and Alexander