/ UKC Winter Conditions - Valdres, Hemsedal & Lærdal

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Jamie Simpson - on 12 Dec 2016

Winter season 2016 to 2017

Some useful links:

weather: http://www.yr.no

Avalanche: http://www.varsom.no

Terrain: http://skredkart.ngi.no

It has been a slow start to the season with regular storm cycles brings warm wet weather, and not the snow we had wished for. Unstable is the key word. Ice has developed in all the key areas and as often the case forms abundantly in seasons with poor snow.

Reports in off climbing in Hemsedal on ice and mixed routes. Pictures of ice development and climbing in the valley. For example Rjukandefossen and Golsjuvet (care with ice over the rivers as reports in saying its thin / not fully safe / open). Pictures of an icy Flaggetfossen have also been seen. Reports in of mix climbing in Skogshorn and other venues.

In Vang (Valdres) less reports due to being less popular than Hemsedal. Ice has formed, however the classics like Langåni was forming but not complete. Drøsja was a waterfall when Drove past last thursday (8/12). The smaller falls to the right of the above classics are formed and look good due to the lack of snow (i.e. bigger than normal). Other falls not documented are forming and if you look about some interesting falls can be found ;)

Beitostølen area: We snowshoed in last week. Grønolenfossen was in and looking good. Being high it will survive the warm spells, however due to it facing south only has a short season.

Fagernes: Hyllebekken (or Hyllefossen depending on who you chat with) has been climbed regularly and looks good.

Bagn: I only got a drive by look from the bus last week. Needs more time, but not much longer, and could be worth a visit. Haven't seen Stavedalen unfortunately.

Lærdal: Drive by / rubber necking with the wife shouting "watch the road" Upper Lærdal ice but not fully formed and after the warm spell looking like they needed some cold days. Lærdal always gets loads of ice when there isn't any snow. Mid to lower Lærdal, not looking good at the moment (Seltunfossen was a waterfall). Although Kjørlifossen (Lower Lærdal) viewed quickly from the car (seen from the village of Mo up Råsdalen) was visible. I am amazed when everything else has fallen down this always seems to be there.

Continuing in the car to Bergen the dramatically beautiful Gudvangen!!!! Ice had formed but it was so warm / raining. It will return

Skiing: Not even bothered to be honest. Some keenies have been out and as usual saying wonderful things and at the same time saying use old skis. After a few months away from the planks some Norwegians say anything with skis on is just so great. I´m waiting... maybe I am snob.

As usual always interested in info, post and pictures (especially if they are from Valdres, Hemsedal or Lærdal)
Post edited at 16:33
Jamie Simpson - on 16 Dec 2016
Had a "drive by" Hemsedal on Wednesday before a meeting. Took some pictures which are up on FB (Valdres Fjellguider).

In brief: Dry, very. Grøtenutbekken looked to have a gap in it. Haugsfossen looked thin with holes (difficult to get a really good look because of trees. Grøtenutmiget looked formed but thin in places and longer than normal (due to lack of snow). Torsetfossen looked thin (didn't really get a good look at it due to distance and trees). Hydnefossen formed but looked much thiner and skeletal compared to what I have seen before.

Skurvefjell looked dry. Saw some pictures of people climbing on it yesterday, possible Pastral 1. Looked like a summer route.

Skogshorn looked snowier, but still dry. Saw lights I think on lett vinter at about 5pm.

Big Lee - on 17 Dec 2016
In reply to Jamie Simpson:

Grøndalen also very dry. Second pitch of Vøllokula has partially disappeared. Skogshorn and Skurvefjell looked totally black from across the valley today/yesterday. Looked to be loads of ice forming around Hemsedal a couple of weeks ago but recent warm spells look to have really set things back. Forecast to be 9 degrees on Skogshorns summit tomorrow night! Hardly any snow.
Elevator - on 18 Dec 2016
In reply to Jamie Simpson:

You wouldn't have any information about the current state of routes around Setesdal by any chance would you??
Nick Harvey - on 18 Dec 2016
In reply to Jamie Simpson:

Hi Jamie, we're headed up Lyngen way this year so prob not really all that relevant to us but reading with interest regardless so thanks for posting.
Jamie Simpson - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to Elevator:

Unfortunately no information on Setesdal.

Jamie Simpson - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to Big Lee:

Thanks for posting:

Yesterday Sunday the 18th December took a tour to Filefjell to try a route. On the drive in -7 in Vang plus degrees by lunch. Langåni and Drosje two classics in the area not in, however routes to the right of these look reasonable and due to lack of snow longer than normal.

After 8m of thin rather unsatisfactory ice, and using up all my "get out of jail free cards" i.e. stubby ice screws, warthog and tied off ice screw we decided to beat a retreat and come back another day. Shortly afterward it poured down which instantly froze on everything. Nice.

Generally conditions not good, however you can find things to climb which do turn out to be rather good. Best drive about and not focus to much on the guide book.
TobyA on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to Nick Harvey:

When are you going Nick?


Some Finnish mates were skiing above Rjukan a couple of weeks back and seemed to be having a great time! Not been myself but there is a resort there isn't there?
Nick Harvey - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to TobyA:
Last two weeks in February. Quite excited despite too little training. Assuming such things are out of scope for you these days with school hols dictating?
Post edited at 11:37
TobyA on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to Nick Harvey:

Yeah, but a friend is renting a house out for a couple of months up there this winter, just west of Lyngseidet. I'm not certain but I might try to go for a week during the Easter holidays but obviously skiing would be the main aim - not sure if anyone one else there might be a climber.
Jamie Simpson - on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to TobyA:

Yes, its called Gaustablikk Skisenter.
GarethSL on 19 Dec 2016
In reply to Jamie Simpson:

Sunndal is experiencing extended wet and warm weather, with many of the ice lines being open streams.

Oppdal "så klart"... Most of the major lines are in. Plenty of routes being done.

FB uses can follow here *shameless plug*: https://www.facebook.com/isklatring.trondheim
Jamie Simpson - on 21 Dec 2016

After a somewhat pessimistic outlook over the last weekend the forecast is for snowy colder weather. While many classics routes are not in, fallen down, many less known and equally good routes that normally fall off the radar remain to be climbed. Even after this warm spell these routes will remain and now the cold has returned optimism returns.

I'm off to London for Christmas this year and won't be back until the 27th December.

Up dates always welcome (especially from Valdres, Hemsedal and Lærdal - big hint).

GarethSL on 21 Dec 2016
In reply to Jamie Simpson:
> (especially from Valdres, Hemsedal and Lærdal - big hint).

I only do it to annoy you. ;)
Post edited at 10:34
Jamie Simpson - on 21 Dec 2016
In reply to GarethSL:

At least Oppdal is closer than Lyngen, Setesdal and the rest.

I might seek revenge and start posting on the wonderful fb site you guys run ;) Pictures of "too good to be true ice falls" in Valdres with very very pretty people climbing them. Which is of course is true in every detail, I Just dont go on about that to much

Merry Christmas everyone, and hoping Santa delivers a map Norway indicating the ice climbing areas (bah humbug).

ps May be we could meet up and climb together one day. I ran a ice climbing course in Oppdal for DNT Trondheim a few years ago and it looked really impressive.
Post edited at 11:40
GarethSL on 21 Dec 2016
In reply to Jamie Simpson:

> I might seek revenge and start posting on the wonderful fb site you guys run ;) Pictures of "too good to be true ice falls" in Valdres with very very pretty people climbing them. Which is of course is true in every detail, I Just dont go on about that to much

Any tips are welcome!

> ps May be we could meet up and climb together one day. I ran a ice climbing course in Oppdal for DNT Trondheim a few years ago and it looked really impressive.

Absolutely, let me know if you are around, I'm eyeballs deep with work finishing my phd so have only managed one route this season. So keener than ever to get out. Also desperate to check out Vang and the areas around Valdres, for a change of scenery.
wbo - on 21 Dec 2016
In reply to Elevator:
Haven't been Setesdal, have been to Ådneram though. Most everything that was there a few weeks ago has melted/been washed away.

Have been to Sunnmore, went running in shorts......
Big Lee - on 25 Dec 2016
In reply to Jamie Simpson:

I was in Hemsedal and Valdres last week. Posted some stuff on my blog here for anybody interested.


Conditions were very poor and lean but we managed to keep climbing for the first half of the week. Eventually we gave up though and headed further east. It looks like the snow has returned now so hopefully they'll be some mixed conditions at least. The ice looked in desperate need for some more stable cold temperatures.
Jamie Simpson - on 31 Dec 2016
I´m back!

Arrived home with cold temperatures and 10cm of powder snow (just enough to hid the sheet ice in the garden).

Unfortunately the cold did not last and another storm rolled in with plus temps and high winds. Took a drive up to Vang in Valdres today and was shocked and horrified at the state of things (or lack off). Langåni area: Nothing. even the normally reliable falls to the right of Langåni are stripped. Even the falls in the shady side of the valley have significant holes in.

High up around Filefjell: Things buried by wind blow snow at the moment. While trying to check out another fall with worsening weather on the mountain pass the local snowplough driver stopped me and explained the road was now closed go home

Hemsedal: Havet been only second hand info: Golsjuvet proving to be popular and reliable by all accounts. Sounded a bit crowded. Higher up not all together promising reports.

Well the storm will pass tonight (31/12/2016) and colder temperatures will return with snow high up Things will improve and with more stable weather and colder temperatures things will build again.

The start of the winter has been unstable, with fluctuating temperatures and little precipitation. Not the greatest start, but I am optimistic it will improve.

Happy New year to you all.

Jamie Simpson - on 04 Jan 2017
Update: 04/01/17

Drove to Oslo yesterday, down Bagnadalen (E16 from Bergen to Oslo runs down this brand valley).

Out of Fagernes I rubber necked and saw Hyllebekken looking formed (not sure of ice quality as it was plus 7 the other and yesterday -7). On the way to Bagn I saw what I think Kyrjukulen (might have been Saujukulen) which looked formed.

On the zig zags down to Bagn I looked at Dammen, that looked formed although a bit skeletal on the top pitch. "Fossen bortafor Dammen" looked formed (difficult to see and access as you need to cross the ice). Gul fossen was also formed.

Driving down Bagnadalen. I was amazed at how much ice has formed. There is so little snow many icefalls I have never seen are exposed. Some quite impressive falls often partially buried are formed.

Leite foss south of Bagn was formed and looked quite strange without snow about it. Almost certainly longer because of this.

Saw some other ice lines not document on the west side of the valley a bit north of Kristiansmokollen

Getting colder now but still very little snow. -10 in Bagn yesterday and about -5 in Vestre Slidre today.
Big Lee - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Jamie Simpson:

I was high up around Hemsedal at weekend. Skogshorn looks in spring condition. Rock buttresses are dry. Doesn't look from the forecast as though things will change as little snow is expected, plus plenty of clear days (it's south facing).

Ice in Øvredalen was fat, although brittle ice (brittle ice on everything I've climbed the last couple of weeks). No mixed climbing needed on bratta or renna. Very little snow on the approach.

Hydnefossen still looked unclimbable. No running water now but the big holes are still present from the last warm spell. Midtlinja was washed away. Veslehorn looked vaguely in mixed condition despite the lack of new snow but there could be a lot of dry rock at closer quarters.

Have tried to avoid Golsjuvet but friends told me it was just the 4s in nick. People weren't even toproping hovedsøyla last weekend.

Happy to provide updates from Gudbrandsdalen next weekend Jamie ;-)
Jamie Simpson - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Big Lee:
Thanks for the up-date. Gudbrandsdalen looks an ace place.

Up-date: 04/01/17.

In prep for an avalanche course I am running tomorrow I took the skis and headed up to Filefjell. About -4 yesterday. Today(05/01) -14 down in the valley. In Vang valley nearly no snow, however you drive up to Filefjell and there is quite a lot. Recognisance complete, avalanche course a go. Good conditions if you choose the right line and with the current avalanche forecast attention to terrain is a must if you want to travel safe (picture of ski conditions on fb https://www.facebook.com/valdresfjellguider/ ).

After this mini tour and checked out ice conditions:

It is amazing with just a few days of the cold temperatures how quickly ice builds. Many of the classics in Vang will be claimable again soon.
Post edited at 09:00
sanguine - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to Jamie Simpson:


Looking forward to giving Langåni as well as the other Vang routes a crack again this year. Aiming for end of this month with accommodation booked in advance. Just wondering if you or anyone else here has been past these routes recently and seen if they are indeed touching down yet?

Jamie Simpson - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to sanguine:

Haven't seen it for a day or so. Last friday it was forming, with the current weather it will form for sure. I´ll try and get some pictures this Friday as I will be traveling past it on the way to run an avalanche course at Filefjell.
Jamie Simpson - on 14 Jan 2017

Was climbing in Vang on Friday afternoon. Quite a lot of variation in ice quality, protect-ability on the route we did.

Drove past Langåni afterwards, however it was dusk so didn't get a very good look. Forming still, could see the top pillar had touching down but not as fat as it normally looks. Still sometime to get into shape.

Pictures on our social media sites of the route we climbed to dark to take pictures of Langåni.

Skiing: Still challenging in Valdres, however if you choose the right aspects its possible to find some good skiing in the forest zone. Actually looking at the smiles on the avalanche course today, it was very good in the birch woods. Above the woods.... a bit challenging.

Post edited at 16:12
Jamie Simpson - on 15:01 Fri

After a cold spell and much optimism the unstable weather has returned with another storm. Last Sunday I ran an avalanche course with the morning temperatures at -20. Nice a chilly. By Tuesday evening it was back to plus degrees and will remain warm until Sunday.

It will get colder again next week, what the ice will be like, if its anything like already, a lot of variation.

It is possible to find routes in, you might just need to move about a bit and modify your goals.

I hope to be more optimistic next week when it gets colder again.

A strange season in Valdres, as I look out the house window I see grass in the fields on the other side of the lake. I have never seen that in January before.

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