Ice Climbing in Rjukan

I vinter skrev jeg et innlegg om en av mine frste isklatringsturer. Denne ble derimot ikke publisert p denne bloggen, men p en annen som jeg egentlig ikke har oppdatert i ettertid. Siden vinteren nrmer seg tenkte jeg det var p sin plass legge den inn i denne bloggen i tillegg. Hper den er til inspirasjon. :)

On Friday I travelled with some friends up from Sandefjord to a small place in Telemark called rjukanRjukan. Rjukan is well known for its ice climbing facilities, and we were very eager to learn more about this unfamiliar sport that involved axes and crampons. However, Friday was spent shopping food, skiing in the slopes near Gaustadblikk and for my own pleasure, building a small snow cave in the evening.

We started Saturday morning and went to Krokan. It was lightly clouded, and around -2 degrees centigrade, or in other words, perfect for climbing the ice. There is a large waterfall and has been famous for a long time. It is now partially used for hydropower, and is therefore normally much reduced in size. However, we went to Rjukan at the middle of the winter, and were more interested in the large ice crag close by. Our instructor, Tom Brodie, easily ran the first routes so that we could try them on top rope.

Trusting your axes
The first ascent was challenging. There is a lot of new equipment; you have two school december 201crampons on your legs, you are loaded with different kinds of clothes, have an uncomfortable helmet on your head and got two sharp axes in your hands. In front of you is a 20 metre high wall of frozen water.

Making the first move, piercing your axe into the wall and move your left foot up 20 cm was alright, but when it comes to moving the second feet up at the same level you start pondering if frozen ice are able to hold 80 kg of flesh and bones through a small piece of sharp metal. I mean, its nothing but water! But it held, believe it if you can.

The technique of ice climbing is not the same as normal rock climbing. I started piercing the ice with my axe, but after a few attempts, I realized that by attacking the ice in such a way just made it a lot worse for myself when I was supposed to get my axe out of the same ice. Tom firmly suggested using a flick-tactic instead, leaving the axe just inside the ice. It worked very well.

Using your legs is also an interesting concept in ice climbing. In the beginning, I was very eager to bend them and lean them into the ice. But this was highly demanding for my muscles, and when I realized it was much easier standing straight up with the legs, everything went much smoother.

Leading - the great challenge of climbing (except free soloing)
When I felt comfortable with my axes, crampons, the flicking and realizing that my life dependent on something that was melting all around me (it was around 2 degrees later that day), climbingI pulled the rope down from its holds at the top and added some bolts on my harness. It was time for leading the route myself. When you lead it means that there is no rope above you. You are inserting bolts that you connect a rope you bring with you as you climb the wall. This means that if you fall while inserting an ice bolt, you will fall down to you previous bolt before you are caught. The advantage of leading is that you do not need to have been at the top of the wall in order to climb the route.

Even though the routes do not get physically more difficult, there is clearly a more mental aspect to leading instead of climbing on a top rope. You know that if you fall on a lead, there is a slightly chance that your bolts will not hold, and that you will fall all the way down to your buddy which could be up to 30 metres. This is what makes climbing such an exciting sport overall; the moves themselves might not be that easy, but if you know that a failure can get consequences, you need to overcome your own fear before going on.

International ice
When we were climbing, there were many people at the various small walls. I met people from Scotland, Sweden, Germany, England and Denmark. It seemed like it was a very international area. This theory was improved by the fact that I did not meet another Norwegian there before the second day there. A bit ironic, considering that Rjukan lies in the middle of Norway. One can really wonder why not more neighbours of the remains of the Asgard has been attracked to its goddess.

Ice climbing - its just great!
There is no doubt; ice climbing is a great sport. It gives you a continuous physical challenge, for example when you try to use all of your muscles in your hands for not losing your grip and fall down from the overhang you cannot get through. The mental challenge is just as grand, climbing on thin ice with bolts that you know should hold, but there is always that doubt. Finally, there is the beauty of the ice, the surroundings and of getting to the top of the frozen water. It is something that cannot be told, it has to be experienced before you can imagine how it is.

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Simen Eide

Simen Eide

18, Trondheim

En liberal og optimistisk kar opptatt av politiske ideer, klatring og elvepadling.