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Confusion at Troll Wall

We picked up an interesting series of articles on a Norwegian local web site about an intrepid man spotted below the famous Troll Wall in Norway.

Troll Wall, Romsdal  © Paul Armitage
Troll Wall, Romsdal
© Paul Armitage, Feb 2005

The first article, published Tuesday 1 March, is here on

Translation below:

Sniffing Out at the Troll Wall by Øystein Talberg

There were rumours about an English climbing team having plans for a winter ascent of the Troll Wall. A man was seen at the foot of the wall on Tuesday, right underneath Trollspiret. A car with an British registration number is parked about a kilometre south of the Horgheimseidet parking.

Yesterday a man was spotted, not far from the point of access to the Troll Wall, right underneath Trollspiret. A little later in the day the same person was seen coming down.

It could be someone scouting for the English team making plans for a winter ascent, but this is seen as not very likely by local climbers, who have been in contact with some 'Englishmen'. It might be a climber who, against all odds, had plans for a solo ascent, or someone who is making a reconnaissance on behalf of other climbers, or is busy carrying up gear for a planned expedition. Possibly it was someone who realised that the Troll Wall is a rather too challenging a task at this time of year.

Troll Wall has never before been climbed solo in winter. It will be exiting to see what will happen in the next few days. As far as we know, this person has not been in contact with the local climbers. A potential ascent of Troll Wall so late in winter will be quite a big challenge. Rain, ice and lose rock are some of the key words.

The follow-up article was published here on Wednesday 2 March:

Planning on a Solo Ascent by Øystein Talberg

An English climber is planning a solo ascent of Troll Wall – on his tod.

Rauma police was informed about the abandoned English van parked at Horgheimseidet in Romsdal on Tuesday.

In the course of the afternoon they caught up with the owner, who had returned from a reconnaissance trip under Troll Wall – in an area directly underneath Trollspiret.

He confirmed to the police that he has plans for a solo ascent of the wall. The man was completely on his own, and neither did he have any local contacts.

The police strongly advised him against carrying out his plans at this time of the year. The combination of mild weather, precipitation and ice on the wall can make conditions difficult and dangerous. Especially for the coming days a lot of precipitation is forecast. The man thanked the police for the information, but did not promise to cancel his planned climbing trip (..). He said he would stay in the area for a while and keep an eye on the conditions.

Today, Wednesday, the van was again parked at Horgheimseidet. Everything points to the English climber having again gone up to the bottom of Troll Wall. The next few days will show if he as taken the advice on board and gives up on the whole idea of a winter ascent.

Pete Rhodes below the Troll Wall

Troll Wall Book Cover  © Tony Howard/Vertebrate Publishing 2011
We can reveal that this 'Englishman' is actually Pete Rhodes, a resident of Edinburgh who had set off to solo the Troll Wall in winter.

Last month we ran an amazing article about Pete's solo trip to Strone Ulldale. He has been blogging about his planned trip to Norway in the last few months and was also the winner of the Berghaus Adventure Challenge award last December as reported here on UKC which was specifically for this solo attempt on the wall.

We texted Pete to see what he thought about all the fuss in the local media and his reply was:

"I'm having to bail! It's 13 degrees in the valley and I believe there are much safer conditions in which to be on this face. Forecast is hot for the next week so disappointed but confident in my decision. It might make this a fairly anti-climatic news story."

Troll Wall by Tony Howard

Coincidentally, last week saw the launch of a new book by Vertebrate Publishing all about the British First Ascent of Europe's tallest Rock Face. I attended a fascinating launch event at the Outside Cafe in Hathersage where Ed Douglas interviewed Tony about his climbing and this historic ascent. We also published an excerpt article from the book here and you can read more about the book here.

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3 Mar, 2011
Does anyone know what the legal situation is with climbing / base jumping the Troll Wall. Also, what is the attitude of the rescue services? As I understand it, it is illegal to base jump the wall and the rescue services reserve the right not to rescue people (I believe they almost lost a helicopter in a rescue). I could be wrong about this though. I didn't think there were any legal issues with climbing it. Why would the police get involved? I can't imagine the French police advising someone not to climb a new winter route in the alps because of the objective risk.
3 Mar, 2011
I do believe that if they came across you at the wrong time at the wrong place, they would let you know it may not be a good idea.
3 Mar, 2011
Pete says this might be "a fairly anti-climatic news story." Given his problems with the weather, was this a deliberate typo? :)
3 Mar, 2011
I remember well the wonderful attempt by Phil Thornhill to climb the Troll Wall solo. He fell high up and broke his leg, precipitating a major rescue operation. There was actually a debate in the Norwegian Parliament about whether he was a serious mountaineer who should not be charged for the rescue or an inexperienced lunatic who should be charged. His mother, interviewed by a journalist, said, "Of course he's a serious mountaineer - he trained for this on the white cliffs of Dover".
3 Mar, 2011
Can't really congratulate on a non-ascent, but the ambition is inspiring enough. Good luck for next time Pete!
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