maandag 14 mei 2018

Winter Fun - part 2

Fiercly standing between endless cubes of salty water are the steep mountains of Lyngen. Trapped on the island they overlook the sea, see the clouds coming and soon feel the soft tickling of fresh snowflakes falling on their shoulders. Officially it's spring, but the snowstorm encloses the area in a true winter feeling. Spring only reveals itself in the morning, when you wake up at 4 AM by the first sun rays hitting the bed. I open my eyes and see the mountains looking back behind the window. Lyngen, my home now, strikes my heart.

Majestic faces are coming out of the clouds. The temperature is rising during the day up to a stunning 12 degrees and the sun starts burning on the slopes with snow. Spring is definately on now. From time to time the mountains are roaring, throwing off their upper layer. I do so too, and the ski tours in t-shirt soon colour my skin. Winter has been long and cold up here, and the dark period left me looking like the snow hares here: completely white.

A group of reindeers nibbling on some grasses gets alerted from the clicking noise of my bindings when I walk up the mountain. They look at me, then run away. All reason to do so: tonight on the menu for the clients is reindeer. From february till May I am cooking for the clients of Ascent Descent, preparing sauna, doing transfers and trying to go out skiing myself as much as possible. For 3 months Lenangsstraumen is my home, Storgalten my backyard.

The sky is green, purple, white. Northern lights are dancing around, playfully hunting after each other. It seems like they enjoy the last moments of being out, before the midnight sun kicks in and steals their show. The white mountains glow up in the moonlight and they look beautiful to ski on. But the appearances are deceiving. It hasn't been snowing for two months now and the mountains have turned into big steep ice rinks. Even on the most gentle slopes (ski) crampons were necessary to get up. As a birthday present, fresh powder arrived in the second half of March, now the season really starts!

Hamperokken, picture by Merrick

High season is definately on. Big groups of people are going up Storgalten, and on the end of the day the mountain looks like a battlefield with all the tracks. For me it means long days in the kitchen, with sometimes short escapes on the planks, into the mountains. Having only limited time to go out has its advantages: condition and efficiency are reaching new levels, and quite often I manage to take over the crowds on Storgalten and get the first tracks down. When I finally had some days free, I couldn't think of anything better than going out skiing, with some Spanish guys this time. Great to be out with friends instead of alone!

Summit of Kavringsfjellet

Finally we got some really nice spring powder, and a happy little Aniek made the best out of the situation and ran around like a puppy on the Lille Galtens the whole day long, grinning like a cheshire cat. That the snowpack was not so deep became very clear when I hit a snow-covered stone and destroyed my ski. Hero of the day Magnus helped me out by borrowing me a pair of his skis, and the next day I had the best tour of the season: up Bjørndalstindan (in the crowds), down the north bowl (escaping from all the crowds), up Kvasstinden and down a fantastic run with deep powder and no single track to be found. For me this tour was the crown of all the tours I did alone this season, a tour in perfect weather and conditions where my skills gained this season came together. The happiness I felt when standing on the summit of Kvasstinden is impossible to describe, so I'll not even try it. In the evening a strong wind came up, destroying the snow once again. With a temperature of above 10 degrees the skiing season felt over. Rock climbing time! A free week was spent in Ersfjorden/Brensholmen/Baugen, climbing in tshirt bathing in the sunshine. Happy I didn't lost all my strength and climbing skills while standing on the skis!

Congita on Tunga 7a+, picture by Stefan

Sitting on the veranda in Lyngen I am slowly getting sunburned. In one week time a lot of snow has melted, and it's necessary to boot pack to the snow. I am skiing some gullies I didn't ski before, but my head is already in Bohuslän. One more week of work and then I'm off, off to Sweden for 3 weeks of trad climbing! I am very grateful for what I learned here in Lyngen, both about the work and the skiing. I met great people, made beautiful tours and got to experience Lyngen at its best and worst. But hey, that's how good relationships work, and it's good to know that Lyngen will always be there for me. These mountains, rising up from the sea, stole my heart. Thanks for this season everyone, it was a blast!

woensdag 28 februari 2018

Winter fun

In December I finished my bachelor, but instead of throwing myself immediately into another study or work, I decided to enjoy some free time and improve my winter climbing skills.
So far the winter here has been fantastic. Starting off with a bit hard times in October, it was great to escape Tromsø in November for some ice climbing in Alta. By teaming up here with Torgrim, we got to make many meters in just two weeks and thanks to this I could enjoy a steep progression curve.
Back in Tromsø there was a big bunch of powder and the skiing was great. Suddenly it felt like everything was possible to ski down, and I felt like a hero on ski's. We skied down the Rambo couloir in Katfjordeiret, a line I never thought I would manage to ski. More of that please later this season!
But first: getting some sunshine (and rock climbing) in the Costa Blanca. I was happy that despite a lot of ice climbing and skiing I somehow kept some sports climbing skills and the 7c's went down still pretty easily. Despite climbing hard, the focus was on climbing a lot and that was what happened. Rest days were filled with ridge traverses or long multipitches, climbing days were filled with loosing as much skin on the rock as possible.
Back home in the North the snow got terrible, time to escape to Alta again! After a hard first day getting used to shivering again, Torgrim and I managed to climb about 7 new lines in 5 days, all super fun.
Tastes like more and back in Tromsø I filled my days with trips to the Kroken crag, making meters and getting more and more confidence and speed. I led my first WI6 in Nordkjosboten, a beautiful steep pillar in a stunning area.
With Merrick I climbed Smorstabfossen, a icicle in Grøtfjorden that was not really formed so we had to dryool in 3 pitches to get to the ice (WI6 in guide but in these conditions M6, WI4).
Then on another beautiful day Monsterfossen saw an ascent, climbing it together with Richard. A long approach but then 4 pitches of great ice, WI5(+).
Somehow the weather stayed cold and clear, and while all the skiers were complaining about the conditions, I was having the time of my life. Grøtfjorden was up next, some alpine climbing there with Florian. Slowly my body was getting tired, but the psych was too high and the weather too good to take a break. A day to the Kroken crag I'd now call a rest day, not a training day anymore.
Then Torgrim came with the idea of climbing an unclimbed long line in Lyngen, cool! We approached in the evening and my body felt tired, but the line looked cool and Torgrims psych was infectious. After a short, cold night we started climbing early. Starting off on hard snow we managed to make fast progress, until the terrain got steeper and the snow deeper. I got scared, my body felt wasted and motivation was far away. Just under the summit after about 1300 meters of climbing we got stuck below some steep loosy rock climbing. We decided to call it a day, and after 22 hours of being on the mountain we were back at the tent. No summit, but still a new route and a great adventure!
The week after, my body felt wasted. Good timing since I had my first working week in Lyngen, cooking for Ascent Descent. A week with just cooking, eating, sleeping and skiing a bit on icy slopes. The psych for climbing was quickly coming back, and at the end of the week I was feeling strong and fit again. Ready for trying Ultima Thule on Blåmann! With big heavy backpacks Merrick and I hiked up to the wall. The climbing went slow, but it was great. Thinks worked out perfectly and we had loads of fun. Until the jetboil stopped working... We didn't had any water anymore so giving it a push was not reasonable. We bailed from halfway up the mountain, but not before promising to get back on to it later!
Now after Blamann, my body is teaching me some anatomy, making me feel all the places where muscles are. From on the beginning of March till the end of May I'll be working in Lyngen, crossing my fingers for good skiing conditions, or hoping to find some good ice/alpine climbing partners. It feels like winter has only just begun!

dinsdag 13 februari 2018

Recap 2017, prospecting 2018 (climbing-wise)

2017: The year I moved to Norway, where I finished my bachelors, stopped with the Expedition Academy, made many new friends and developed myself in countless ways. Climbing-wise a lot changed: by moving to Norway I missed out on all the National competitions. Instead, I spent all my free time hanging on some granite rock or hammering my axes in ice. I learned how to climb up cracks on Baugen, how to aid up routes on the little big wall of Blamann, I got to climb steep ice and did first ascents around Alta, I manage to climb 8a on granite (proving myself that I can climb hard on granite too) and I got second at the European Student Championships. I got psyched, I got scared and I kept on learning the whole season. My aim for myself is to become the most allround climber I can be, feeling strong on rock, ice and plastic.

In 2018 I hope to continue my learning curve, and since I have one of the best playgrounds in my backyard now with a fantastic inspiring climbing community, I think great adventures are ahead.

Hope to see you in the mountains!

Best of 2017:
- Blamann winter attempt
- 8a on granite
- Blamann summer success
- 2nd place at the European Student Championships
- Rambo couloir down on ski's (first couloir on ski's :D)
- Ersfjordtraverse
- Many many many beautiful routes in the Dolomites

Goals for 2018, list will get updated every now and then):
- Climb WI6 (done)
- Climb Blamann in winter (tried - bailed halfway)
- Ski the Godmother Couloir in Lyngen (bailed due to avalanche risk)
- Free climb Blamann in summer (done almost free)
- Climb 5 routes 8a or harder (managed 4)
- Climb Storpillaren and Stetind (Lofoten) in summer (done)
- Podium place National Championships (ended 4th...)