Aug 26, 2017

Stetind - the National Mountain of Norway

Stetind South Pillar  

   In 2002, Stetind was chosen, via a radio poll, as the National Mountain of Norway. Even though its not close to be the highest mountain of Norway, not even in the area. But is sure is the most eye catching one! The mountain has been compered with peaks as Matterhorn and Ama Dablam in Nepal.
Well, that one is maybe a little to much "national"?! But anyhow, its a beautiful peak with a lot of nice as well as super hard routes on it.
Stetind - as seen from the parking 
  We aimed for the most classic one, and maybe the best due to quality, the South Pillar, "Sydpilaren"
Its a 13 pitch route witch, believe it or not, head up on the south facing part of Stetind.  
Following the prominent pillar that finish at the second amfi and from where its either possible to make a airy traverse out right and join the Normal route. Or, by heading straight up the last couple of pitches direct up to the very top. Giving the whole route a bit more interesting character.
Fjord camping life
Our four day climbing trip can be considered a bit on the limit time wise. But that was what we had so we just had to wish for the best and pure luck weather wise. Which I often tends to have!!
Already the first evening, meeting up with Janne at the train station, the sun was starting to shine with its brighter side on us. So we decide to head for the small sport crag area at Lervik, some 20k north of Narvik.
And since we got a bit enthusiastic the time run away with a furious speed, leaving us at a dinner time close to 23:00 (not midnight sun here any more at this time but the daylight holds quite long anyhow). And when we also got company by a couple of Harbour Porpoises, well we decided to just have diner at place and move south next morning.
Janne on the approach

The drive down to E-Fjord and Stetind is some 1hour driving. 

But with my van, which like easy going best, we easily used 1 1/2h. So arriving at the parking the time had already passed midday. A parking full of cars. But no worries, still time for a cup of espresso while we sorted the gear out and then aim for the 2hour approach. Since I soloed the same route a few years ago we kept the rack quite limited and light.
With our late start I was pretty convinced that we would have the route for us self, with out any questions. But, of course, just as we was getting ready to leave an other team showed up with the same plans. Unbelievable! 
But since we wasn't quite ready yet, I just saw them skirting away up the trail ahead of us.
Some 40 min later we was, finally, ready to leave. So with my calculation we should be ready to start climbing at 14:00hours, perfect. Just had to see where the other team was to be found.

Before the final slabs to the base of South Pillar
Hiking up through the woods are most stunning, a beautiful collection of peaceful trees and water streams. After 30min the views opens and its an open landscape surrounded by sea and fjords.
After that the trail steepens and at one critic point its a sharp leftward traverse out over some exposed slabs. If its wet its for sure a good idea to rope up.

 Luckily we soon catched up with the other ones, who we simply called the spaniards, they looked very Spanish. And even talked that lange, so I guess we was right?!
After reflecting with them about the weather and winds, we passed them only in our underwear (like only very little under wear) and they looked very well dressed up, we agreed about that we had some different ideas regarding warm and cold.

An other 100 vertical meters and we was at the cairn that show´s the carrefour. Since most of the slabs was dry we could move quite fast nd join the last bit up to the pillar. But here the amount of snow almost caused a problem. A very strong winter in terms of snow has been followed by a most cool summer, so there is an unusual about of snow still.

Janne on the first pitch of Sydpilaren
Finally, at the base of the route, 2h15min approach.
While Janne puts on his gear I start to lead up the first pitch, an easy warm up mostly over slabs and easy cracks.
Higher up the pillar offers a number of different variations, so the route finding is not totally relaxed. Here and there it hit dead-ends, with cracks closing on steep slabs.
But the climbing it self is just at a remarkable high level of quality. Perfect friction on solid granit!
Quality climbing
And soon we find ourself at the second amfi, standing under the last part. A prominent pillar with grooves on both sides. After a bit of speculation I remember that the right choice is via the left side. An interesting section of climbing up to 6a. I find a good place for a belay and with Janne arriving I promise him that the rest was to be on easier ground.
Proves out to not totally correct, a most fingery friction sequence on the next pitch turns out to be the crux of the whole route. A part I obviously have totally forgotten on my previous ascent. Maybe just to focus then...

Upper exit pitches
3 1/2 hours later we stand on the summit.
An other cool thing is that the route sends you directly to the very top, a little bit of scrambling the last meters but otherwise its climbing all the way from P1 to P13. And then you find yourself at the characteristic flat summit of Stetind - big as a couple of football fields.

From here the climb isn't totally over yet. Some scrambling, down climbing and a short rappel (10-15mts) and then the final scramble over "mysosten". And then, we are back on "solid" ground at Hall´s Fortopp.
And yet an other 1 1/2h hike back down to a waiting bottle of Prosciutto.

Climbers on top!
Janne on the return, descending down the Normal Route

Views from Halls Fortopp. Our Spanish friends halfway up the route, still a long way to go
50mts rope (x2 in case of retreat)
Camalots #0,75-3
Aliens #Green - Red (extra of midsize useful)
Small set of wires
4-8 QD´s

Note: there is no anchors in place, so if you need to retreat and bail off it means leaving equipment.
Possible to traverse of the route over the normal route at the second amfi band.
To reach the route, make a left turn at a cairn pointing the way at ca 700-750moh.

Topo and information; Dancing on the devils dance floor of Mikael Ekenstam
                                     Rock Fax

The Movie

//With no obvious direction, consider to stand still

Aug 8, 2017

WiFi Expeditions

  When people are sitting at a Base Camp at 3800mts, somewhere at a place which is not possible to reach even with a 4X4, grumbling over how slow the wifi goes, complaining that "it takes hours just to upload one or two pictures to my blog". Instead of actually be amazed, or even better; being frustrated over that there actually EXISTS an internet connection at this location!
Well, thats sends me to be more then simply confused.
Bouldring with a view 
 This always makes me worried over why these people wants to expose them self to this miserable life which high altitude expeditions often means.
Expeditions which often means long hours of waiting, headache and bad appetite with a running stomach. Long way from the safety of a super speed WiFi. Long way from everything our modern life has to offer. Even though its still miles more modern then this type of adventure used to be, when most of our planet was only seen via rumors or from a plane window. Big expeditions like the French Annapurna expedition in 1950. Maurice Hertzog
Some of our modern "Adventurers" which has been trying to repeat these men´s (it was often men due to that time) stunning adventures. Like following in the foot steeps of Amundsen or even better trying to repeat the unbelievable misery that Shackleton and his crew survived. Well, in my opinion its a little bit of an other story to do this with a modern unsinkable ship, something that could survive a nuclear attack almost. But thats an other story...

Marble Wall Peak - making tracks with friends
Aiming for higher peaks is in many way a game for us that likes to be bored of just waiting. Just waiting on our body to be adjusted with the new environment and altitude.
And, during these moments, be able to do what the modern human find it so hard to do. Just relax, enjoy the moment, even talk to other people at the same table but with out a "smart phone" in attache mode to their ear. Letting everybody else know how busy they are and what cool places the are at!
When the mobile phone doesn't connect even to the smallest amount of Facebook, Messenger or WhatsApp. And instead you actually just HAVE to talk to the other people in the same tent, people you know but don't now what to adress and talk with.

Moments in life!
Since nowadays its easier just to meet for dinner at some cool restaurant but at the same time blogg about this online, so you don't really need to talk to your so called friends. But letting everyone else know that your the man!
Cause I find more and more people thinking them self to be the most busy guy in the world. Just raging about how stressed they are, with not even time to sit down and eat almost. So the panic of being away for this first trip of a couple of weeks sends the focus of the main goal and why they are here to start with, climbing a peak. Because in their own mind they are already on the next one!

Enjoying moments on the acclimatization 
On my last Elbrus tour people was chocked about "how good the food was"and that there even was a chance to get a "hot shower" at High Camp.
And that they "didn't need to cook the meals by them self", even though it said so with very informative words in all the documents that was sent out way ahead of the trip.
Hell, even the accommodation was ways over the expectations cause there was tent beds, so not nesseccery to sleep on the ground.

With a just little bit of planning, you can find all the best things even on an Expedition far away in Alaska
Big mountains - great moments - Mont Denali
Or, you can invent problems just because its fun. As here on an improvised boulder problem high up at West Rib
But none reflected over that the mobile phones worked with full connection at most of the places, not just around BC. And that there was a WiFi, well that was pretty obvious that it should be?!
With the same matter of course that you would find this at High Camp. So when it turned out not so, people got very jittery eyes.
-is this punishment or holiday?
Once on a trip to Kebnekaise, Sweden, I got a call on the way up. Since the clients had already arrived they had noticed that their phones didn't work with the local net. Only the biggest former state owned distributer covered this area. So, I just had to stop and by sim cards to everybody, 18 people!
Made it even more fun when it turned out that their phones was locked and didn't work with other sim-cards!!

Dont stress - enjoy life - It is easy to miss. Kirgizi Highway
  I guess this is the new way of going on holidays, climbing high peaks around the world with the goal to titulate them self as adventurer´s and alpinists. This extracts more and more people who has just been reading about these adventures and being amazed by the pictures. Wanting to be a part of a community that they can join by putting up enough money to become, with warm coins but a cold heart. Only with the summit in the bag counting for anything. And how to speak to the internet as fast as possible afterwards in modified words to get the story to sound as good as possible to their own reality.
People that in big letters explaining that he would like it to be windy and some snow on the summit day, giving it the feeling of being on Everest. For god´s sake, if they wasn't serious it would be more than just a good joke, but it isn't.

Base Camp life - can be your best moments in life.
As a guide I often meet these people in different situations.
Telling me how they want to climb this and that peak in this and that conditions. Letting us know how they know everything about everything and with the most shining new equipment they often wants to start running up every hill just to show how its done. Ignoring every word about that "mountaineering and high altitude climbing is about going slow with experience"
At one time I overheard my clients discussing the next days aim for the summit;

-"What do you think, would it be possible that you can make the full travers of the peaks?!"
-"well I do not know, our guide doesn't sound to clear about this, maybe he´s not fit enough"

Never that this person would even consider to reflect over that as a guide and experienced climber the focus and goal is to take all the difficult decisions for the whole group.
You don't hire a guide to say yes, you hire him to say no!
Which is sadly necessary since to many people today has a huge lack of self awareness.
Thinking that they have been on so many expeditions (well maybe a trip up Kilimanjaro won't make you an alpinist) and put in so many hours of training (well maybe three times of "power running over 15 minutes" in a week isn't that much).
Often I´m just amazed over people aiming for a 6000mts peak who are not even able to carry their own back-pack. But they want to stay in a tent at 5000mts to be closer to the highest point the day of summiting. But never have they even been out camping in winter before!! Since, "how hard can it be?" Yeah, how hard could it be?!

Unexpected meetings - a chance to make new friend, finding out new stories. At this time of a former Russian Fighter Pilot
  All this makes me often think about the reasons why these people keep on coming.
On the way back from my last expedition, which we finished a couple of days earlier since the weather and everything was with us, the group was very exited to be able to get back to the city earlier than planned. Even those who wasn't able to reach the peak on the summit day. With a few days left with a chance to give it an other try it was still more important to be going back to town, or even to change the ticket to fly back home.
In my ears quite strange since here we was in a foreign country which is not even easy to get to. Needs visa applications and permits and so on. With a chance to see something else then the everyday living, on a planned vacation.
For some I understand the situation. Putting up a lot of stress on them self even before the climbing starts. Making it loud and clear that they want to outperform the mountain it self. But instead being the hardest becoming the weakest in the team and as a result just wants to "disappear". Sad for not only them but for the whole group since with every failure comes experience.
But try to explain to people to enjoy the moment.
Because for every step you take on return, its a step closer to the expected communication and a WiFi. And in a few moments you will sit there with the smart phone connected to everyone expect your team mates.

What is better than a small tent far from WiFi surrounded by a huge mountain!?
The emptiness after 3 weeks in the mountains is destroyed in 3 minutes with a fast internet.
And there is now showers in the world to prevent us from that.
So next time the sound beeps in your pocket, try to ignore it for at least a few minutes, maybe the whole day!? Or go as far to turn the sound off. Because maybe it was just a text from local net distributor, with the price info.
Take a moment and just enjoy the sound from silence...

Go slow - enjoy life - count hours nor minutes!