Norway Ice Climbing - Photo Report

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."

NG Ice Article

Stunning views contrasting water and mountains. (Photo: Neil Gresham)

NG Ice Article

Ian Parnell, Kenton Cool and Neil Gresham. (Photo: Mark Garthwaite)

NG Ice Article

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)

NG Ice Article

Neil Gresham treading lightly during a repeat of 'Roadside' WI 7, the hardest ice route in the Lyngen Alps region. (Photo: Mark Garthwaite)

NG Ice Article

Kenton Cool making the second ascent of Gresham & Garthwaite's route: 'Nor-wegie' WI 6 / M6. (Photo: Neil Gresham)

NG Ice Article

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)

NG Ice Article

'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)

NG Ice Article

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)

NG Ice Article

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)

NG Ice Article

Ian Parnell lets out a muffled 'power scream' on the (possible) first ascent of Florofossen WI 6, 'Project crag', Lyngen Alps. (Photo: Neil Gresham)

NG Ice Article

Mark Garthwaite snow-shoes down from 'Project crag' in the Lyngen Alps. (Photo: Neil Gresham)

NG Ice Article

This 3 pitch monster dribbles down the headwall of Ormdalen Canyon, the deepest gorge in northern Norway. White Chocolate was first climbed by Kurt Astner when the pillar on the second pitch was fully connected. The British team repeated it after the pillar had broken off in WI 6+/7 condition. (Photo: Neil Gresham)

NG Ice Article

Mark Garthwaite swings onto the curtain on the crux second pitch of White Chocolate WI 6+ in Orndalen Canyon. (Photo: Neil Gresham)

NG Ice Article

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)

NG Ice Article

Mark Garthwaite gets to grips with 'sci-fi' ice formations on the crux first pitch of Flagbekkan WI 6. (Photo: Neil Gresham)


Neil Gresham is sponsored by:

Sherpa Adventure Gear , Icebreaker, La Sportiva, Petzl, Beal, Julbo, Osprey, Mule Bar


This post has been read 14,310 times

Return to Latest Articles or view other Features

9 Apr, 2013
I would add to "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" that actually lots of routes up there have been done by Finnish teams over the years. There was even a Finnish language 'home-made' guide to winter climbing around Lyngen from the mid-90s, if I remember compiled by Leo Määttälä who had been climbing up there from the 80s onwards. Harder things have been done in more recent years too. It seems some annoyance has been caused in Norway over the years by foreign teams finding "new routes" up there and then spreading the news over the net. Although Norwegian ice climbers seem to have taken "hiding their light under a bushel" to extremes of modesty not seen elsewhere, so it is perhaps a bit late to moan about people claiming previously climbed routes if they never wrote a guidebook! ;) But what Finnish teams have done up there is cloaked in possibly even more mystery by a language that makes Norwegian look simple!
9 Apr, 2013
"foreign teams finding "new routes" up there and then spreading the news over the net" Not me! I was very upfront. It was the 'ignorant visitors' if I recall.
9 Apr, 2013
Yep, wasn't referring to you and Jim, Nick - in fact you guys did more to try and organise the available information than anyone else so far I think! James - I know that Ian and co. had put time and effort into finding out what they could before going, and were well aware of the murky history over what had and hadn't been done before. I just wanted to add that Lyngen has long been the 'local' mountains for many Finns. I use the inverted commas as it still takes about 17 hours to drive there from Helsinki, but I think that's still closer than Oslo!
9 Apr, 2013
And just as soon as I get round to it, I'll update the guide with the info from Ian et al. I have been saying this for weeks, mind.
9 Apr, 2013
Some great photos - looks like a brilliant trip!
More Comments