Big, Free and Trad in Norway - Auer strikes again

© Bjarte Bo
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

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

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21 Aug, 2007
Congrats to Heid and Auer - an amazing effort. the Rockfax grade tables suggest that 5.13d puts it in solid E8 territory! And all gear place on the lead - just excellent style. Kvaløya is such a superb place, and not very far from Tromso airport (you could hitch or bus to the start of the walk-in pretty easily I would think) I'm really quite surprised that not more Brits seem to venture there. There is even a guidebook available now with all the routes, winter and summer and mountaineering traverses in it: On the other side of the mountain to Blåmann (BTW - "å" is the "Swedish o" Mick, so if you haven't got an å on your keyboard I guess writing it Blomann is closer to the Norwegian) is Hollenderan which has more reasonably graded trad routes which many who have climbed there reckon to be amongst the best granite crack climbs in Europe - from the one I've done which didn't get many stars I have no reason to doubt this, the views are superb! Every climber who thinks of themselves as a serious mountain rock climber should try and make the effort to visit! It's a fantastic place.
21 Aug, 2007
Blaamann would be better, aa can replace å in Danish and I'm pretty sure it's the same in Norwegian
21 Aug, 2007
<is there a Norwegian in the house? Any Norwegians please? And none of you southern softies from Oslo - we need a proper northerner with the right accent!> :-)
21 Aug, 2007
Actually I'd have thought that 8B climbing protected by two copperheads was closer to E9 than E8, not that I have any experience of operating anywhere near that level.
21 Aug, 2007
<hijack> cont... from wiki Transcription Since Å is a letter with a distinct sound, not an A with an accent, it is best to keep it when referring to Scandinavian words and names in other languages. However, in Danish and Norwegian, Aa is widely known as the old way of writing Å, used until first part of the 20th century, and a fully functional transcription for Å when using a foreign keyboard. Ok, so it's wiki so may be wrong but... </hijack>
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