There were no copies in the climbing shop in Henningsvaer so I had a quick word with the owner Thorbjorn Enevold and a couple of days later there was a small collection of shiny new books on the shelf. First impressions were favourable - well apart from the fact that the book had a strangely familiar look to it. Scattered throughout the guide were the RockFax symbols we had come to know and love – approach times and angles, climbing styles, sun and shade, sport and trad, they were all there – even colour coded grade bands (though at least only in the crag tables).
The book covers, sport, trad and bouldering - it has to be admitted that about half the book is concerned with bouldering, an activity that I find marginally less attractive than a visit to the dentists - but there is still plenty of 'real' climbing packed between the glossy covers and having said that some of the bouldering did look quite good actually!
As a starter I had spotted the roadside Blåfjell with the seven pitch classic of Elleve I ett taulag (grade 5 – about solid VS) just waiting to be climbed. Although it was a Sunday we though we would turn up and join the crowds (good weather/roadside crag/classic route/new guide book – bound to be busy) but of course this isn't the Peak District and we had the crag to ourselves – the 'parking area' had room for just two cars and the path to the base of the crag was almost nonexistent.
We also spent a day climbing on the nice gneiss cliff of Elektroeggen overlooking the centre of Bodo and most of the rest of the time heading a gently 20 minutes drive to the cliffs in the Nordsia (literally The North Side) area. This is the best in the immediate area, with a whole collection of cliffs, the choice one being the roadside crag of Bratthammaren, with over sixty routes many of which are pretty steep – useful if (when?) the rain arrives. I also enjoyed Nybruddet, with routes up to three pitches on superb rough rock, set at a nice sensible angle and less than ten minutes from the car!
As to the climbing – it was almost without exception excellent, varied, on high quality gneiss, mostly (but not exclusively) single pitch sport routes (and the bouldering of course), with a little bit of something for everyone. Special mention should be made of the cliffs on the island of Fugloya, a fantastic looking set of trad climbs, many of which are multipitch, on superb white granite. The island has no roads, so this is a real 'away from it all' venue; from the passing ferry it certainly looked magnificent.
This guide will definitely put the area on the map, it doesn't have the soaring multipitch trad routes of Lofoten, just across the water, but it does have a plethora of bouldering and clip-ups. Although the place is worth a visit in it own right, it is a counterpoint and a stopping of venue on the way too and from Lofoten that is its real strength – a perfect place to break the journey or clip a few bolts after the stresses of cruising thousand foot routes on Presten.
The Guidebook covers previously unpublished climbing and bouldering in arctic Norway. Trad climbing on pristine granite islands, urban sportscrags, underground bouldering: You will find it all here. The book has comprehensive coverage of selected areas in the region around the Arctic Circle in the county of Nordland. The areas are crags in Rana, climbing and bouldering in Sila, tradclimbing at Fugløya, sportclimbing and bouldering in Bodø and finally bouldering in Straumvassbotn and Gjerdalen (aka Magic valley). All vital information is also in English.
294 pages, full colour
For further information about Arctic Circle Climbing including sample pages of this guidebook visit:www.bodoklatreklubb.no
Visit Chris Cragg's blog and follow his climbing and guidebook adventures at: chriscraggs.blogspot.com
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