In February 2013, a British team consisting of Neil Gresham, Ian Parnell, Mark Garthwaite and Kenton Cool visited the Lyngen Alps and Lavangen, two rarely explored ice climbing destinations near to Tromso on the Arctic coast of northern Norway.
Neil Gresham reports below with a series of superb photographs with extended captions:
"This remote region offers an abundance of established challenges, as well as considerable potential for new routing. The tricky part is working out what's been climbed and what hasn't, as there is so little information to go on. We apologise in advance for any first ascents that we have claimed inadvertently! It was strange to be climbing routes that are every bit as good as the classics in Cogne, Chamonix or Kandersteg, yet without seeing any other climbers. Prior to our visit, the main development had been by a handful of local climbers as well Austrian activist, Albert Liechtfried and Kurt Astner from Italy. Most of the crags require long approaches and snowshoes proved essential. February is the best time to go, with January offering less daylight and the chance that routes won't be fully formed, whereas big thaws are common in March."
Stunning views contrasting water and mountains. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Ian Parnell, Kenton Cool and Neil Gresham. (Photo: Mark Garthwaite)
Roadside crag in the Lyngen Alps, has an hour-and-a-half approach and was evidently named by someone with a sense of humour. The right hand line is Albert Liechtfried's test-piece: 'Roadside' WI 7, a free-hanging pillar, which was repeated by Neil Gresham and Mark Garthwaite. The same pair also climbed a new line up the left hand line of pillars: 'Nor-wegie' WI 6 / M6. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Kenton Cool making the second ascent of Gresham & Garthwaite's route: 'Nor-wegie' WI 6 / M6. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Mark Garthwaite on the first ascent of Nor-wegie WI 6 / M6. The second pitch involved some delicate mixed climbing up a steep corner to gain an ice chimney. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
'Project crag' in the Lyngen Alps. The British team were unable to source any information about this stunning wall and it is possible that the two obvious ice lines they climbed were new routes. Parnell and Cool climbed the left-hand falls direct at WI 6 and Garthwaite and Gresham climbed the right-hand line at a surprisingly amenable WI 5+/ M5. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Mark Garthwaite on the (possible) first ascent of Spitfire WI 5+ / M5 at 'Project Crag' in the Lyngen Alps. This 4-pitch route links a series of improbable vertical ice pillars and turned out to be relatively straightforward thanks to a crucial mixed traverse on the second pitch, which enabled the steepest free-hanging ice to be avoided. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Neil Gresham leading pitch 4 on the (possible) first ascent of Spitfire WI 5+ / M5 at 'Project crag' in the Lyngen Alps. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Ian Parnell lets out a muffled 'power scream' on the (possible) first ascent of Florofossen WI 6, 'Project crag', Lyngen Alps. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Mark Garthwaite snow-shoes down from 'Project crag' in the Lyngen Alps. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Mark Garthwaite swings onto the curtain on the crux second pitch of White Chocolate WI 6+ in Orndalen Canyon. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
Lavangen is a region of mountainous coastline approximately 100 miles south of Tromso. The towering falls of Flagbekkan WI 6 is the must-do icefall of the area, rising majestically above a frozen lake and featuring 4 pitches of steep, sustained ice climbing of the highest calibre. Gresham, Parnell and Garthwaite compared this route to classics such as Repentence Super or Nuit Blanche in terms of quality and difficulty. (Photo: Neil Gresham)
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