Big, Free and Trad in Norway - Auer strikes again

by Alpinist Aug/2007
This news story has been read 11,120 times
+Blåmann, Kvaløya  Island, Norway, 55 kbBlåmann
Blåmann is a 450-meter granite wall on the Norwegian island of Kvaløya, close to Tromso, which rises to an altitude of 861 meters. It is generally overhanging, compact, solid granite giving well-protected aid routes of around ten to twelve pitches. Centered on the wall is Arctandria (A2+), climbed in 1981 by Finn Daehli, Harvard and Sjur Nesheim using copperheads, hooks and knifeblades, and was considered at the time to be one of the hardest big wall routes in Norway. Subsequent ascents added some drilled protection, but still the climb has very little fixed gear.

In 2005 Blåmann suddenly gained international prominence after the Swiss, Didier Berthod and Giovanni Quirici, made a free ascent of Arctandria, rating the crux 5.13c. The two climbed the first five pitches on aid, fixed ropes and then spent six separate days working the route. Eventually, both climbers led every pitch. They used natural protection throughout and added no bolts. However, three of the pitches were only pinkpointed, and unsettled weather allowed no opportunity for a single-push ascent. Writing about the experience, Berthod praised the high quality of the climbing and was pleased to be able to climb the route without altering its character by adding bolts: the crux moves are only protected by two copperheads, making it a serious lead. With regard to a single-push ascent he noted, "the challenge is still there."

This challenge was taken up by Austrian's Hansjorg Auer and Markus Heid (Auer soloed the Fish on the south face of the Marmolada earlier this year). The pair made a one-day redpoint of Arctandria on July 15 and upgraded the crux to 5.13d (8b). With pitch grades of 12c (7b+), 13d (8b), 12d (7c), 13b (8a), 12b (7b), 13a (7c+), 12b (7b), 11d (6c+), 11a (6b), 11c (6c) and three easy pitches to the summit.

Arctandria is one of the hardest multi-pitch, traditionally protected climbs in Europe.

Lindsay Griffin reports at Alpinist.com

Jonas Wiklund also reports on Arctandria at the UKClimbing.com forums (link) which also includes comment from Markus Heid on his and Hansjorg Auer's ascent.

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