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Floatin Isles

Date: 30/6-10/07 2012
Submitted by: Alan Tees


Andrew arrived in Narvik by train from Stockholm, I arrived by air from Dublin, but my baggage, alas, did not.  Bereft of a tent, we had to settle to watch the Euro cup final in the local hotel.  Ah well!  The bag arrived next day, but there was no hurry as it was pissing down.  We shopped and put up the tent in Ballingen, nearer the first objective of Stetinden.  The forecast was for an improving day tomorrow, so we decided to go for it lateish, (as benightment doesn’t happen in this neck of the woods) -24 hour daylight!  We lost the track a couple of times due to late snowfields, but made the first summit just as it started to snow, and set off on the exposed connecting ridge.  “Screaming exposure” it said in the guide, but we could see little, and the only screaming was done by me when my hands lost all feeling with the cold on the infamous hand traverse at Mysosten.  This done, we made the top and back down, about 9 hours in all.

Off to Lofoten on the ferry and the forecast was great.  Camped at the free campsite at Kalle and did a couple of the ‘top 50’ routes at Paradisen, two nice single pitches, ‘By the dashboard light’ and ‘ living in Paradisen’.  Next day we set off up the North Ridge of Vagakallen, the classic alpine route of Lofoten.  Bit shitty to start, but there was a good chimney, and then  Andrew led the most wonderful mountain pitch I have ever done on a cracked slab, followed by a unique/exposed/scary traverse.  Higher up there was a place you have to jump across a gap, but the gap was covered by a thin snow bridge, too dodgy to crawl over, so we abbed in and climbed out, kicking steps in rock shoes!

The summit was fantastic with great views, but our troubles weren’t over as there were steep snow fields on the standard north face route that we intended to use for descent, and we had no axes or boots (trainers and rock shoes only).  It was difficult and many blind alleys taken, but we were back at the car in- well under 12 hours anyway.  The next day was spent touring the islands as far as A (with a bubble on top, pronounced Oa)- says Andrew, and the next recovering from a bottle of Bush! We also helped 3 Norwegians finish their bottle of brandy, eventually going to bed at about 2.00 am in broad daylight.

The most famous route of its grade in Lofoten is a 7 pitch 5- (VS4b) called Bare Baelbar (only Bilberries), which is fairly soft for its grade, but the pitches are long, mostly 40m, (one crack goes up a full pitch), but the rock is superb granite, and the only problem we had was a snagged ab rope.  The Fins behind us freed it and then their own rope got caught in the same place, and they had to go back up(snigger)!

The last thing we did was the Svolvaer geita, (goat) where the thing to do is to jump from one horn to the other on the top of this pinnacle above the town.  But you have to climb it first, and we chose the classic 3 pitch  1910 route, again one of the Lofoten top 50.  Hard men in 1910!  Getting down proved more of a problem, until we saw it done properly afterwards, by a mountain guide.

Great place but wild expensive- 2 bowls of chowder and 2 pints, no change from £50!

15 Jul 2012

£25 for soup and a pint! Bloody hell.

26 Jul 2012

It was good soup though

Photo of Route