Flatanger, a sport climbing mecca in the making [updated]

Magnus Midtbö bolting in the Flatanger cave, 208 kb
Magnus Midtbö bolting in the Flatanger cave
© Kieran Kolle

Summer is here and many boulderers escape the heat either by heading south to Rocklands or up on altitude somewhere in the Alps or Rocky Mountains.

But where are you supposed to go if you want to sport climb?
Sure, there's Céüse of course and some other places around the Alps, but the list is rather short and you don't have too many crags with good conditions during the summer months, especially if severely steep stuff is what you prefer.

Enter Flatanger.

The Flatanger cave, 209 kb
The Flatanger cave
© Kieran Kolle

I'd heard about this mysterious place for years and even seen a few photos, but details were scarce and no one seemed to know much. The only thing that was clear was that there was this cave in Norway that was... huge.

Right now, a mixed team of Norwegians and Frenchmen are bolting line after line in this cave. I decided to ask one of them, the not entirely unknown Magnus Midtboe, who's one of the few to have climbed both 9b and 8C, some questions about Flatanger and the invitational competition that is going to be held there next year.

Where exactly is Flatanger?
Flatanger is located 3,5 hours north of Trondheim.

The Flatanger cave, 52 kb
The Flatanger cave
© Kieran Kolle
How do one get there?
Well, the easiest way is flying to Trondheim, and rent a car from there. Or you can take the bus.
Haha funny story about that; Not enough people took the bus to Flatanger, so they decided to offer taxi for the price of a bus ticket. And taxis are really expensive here, so I would say that's a pretty sweet deal. Only in Flatanger!

What are the dimensions of the cave?
I would say around 300 meters wide, and 150 meters tall. It makes Santa Linya look tiny!

What's the rock like?
The rock is amazingly solid. And the wall is pretty structured, so there are actually holds! I also like the fact that there are no tufas. Often big tufas on steep walls makes it less steep, because the tufas are hanging down vertically.
The rock has all types of holds! Laurent's route has a big hold that looks like a flower! So many cool shapes!

Magnus Midtbö climbing in the Flatanger cave
© Kieran Kolle
Are there going to be roof multi-pitches?
To each his own, but I prefer changing ropes... Alibaba style.
The ground is following the wall in the beginning, so if you have a 100 meter long rope you can maybe get out the whole cave just changing ropes one time. We need some long slings as well, to avoid rope drag.

On your blog, you mention there are 7 more caves. Are they similar to this one? Sounds almost too good to be true! ;)
Yes, they are quite similar since they have all been made the same way, by the sea.
In one of them they have a jazz festival every year. The acoustics are supposed to be amazing, and they can keep jamming even when it's raining. Haha, so I guess we have to come up with a clever plan to get them out of there, so we can climb!
Never thought climbers and jazz players possibly could get into an interest related conflict!

Tell me about the competition! When will it be? Who will be invited?
The competition looks like it will be sometime in May 2012. The plan is just to invite a few climbers to a laid back, fun comp format. Four days with price money on 4-5 projects. Very easy! The money will be divided on however many people do them. So it's pretty much just a four day long climbing session where we gather some of the world's strongest climbers. Hehe, in hopes of getting the first 9a or 9a+ in Scandinavia... take that Sweden! ;)

Magnus Midtbö is sponsored by: AAK, Tyrili Klatring and Mammut

We got an email from Gudmund Grönhaug, the man behind this initiative:

Hi, just read the article/interview with Magnus about Flatanger.
If it is of any interest, I could give a few more details. The intention of my initiative to get "Norges Boltefond" (who paid Magnus and Laurent) engaged in the climbing and bolting here is both to get some superhard routes in the caves, but also and more important, to bolt easier lines around the caves. By today there are some 1-3 pitch trad routes and about 20-30 bolted lines in the valley behind the cave (the cave is on the top of a hill).

Another thing is that when you first reach the shores of mid Norway you are also just a short drive from Harbak and Vingsand which are two great boulder areas where bouldering, and for Harbak's part, trad climbing is possible during summer.

The possibilities for new routes in the area are vast, as Magnus said, but also in the not so hard and easy stuff as well! Usually the land owners are friendly and it is easy to get premission to bolt and climb.

Best regards
Gudmund Grönhaug

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