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Europe, Norway, Hemsedal and Laerdal Valleys, Various Ascents

Hemsedal and Laerdal Valleys, Various Ascents. On March 13, Mark Wilford and I flew to Oslo for an ice climbing adventure. We climbed approximately 4,000 feet of ice over a seven- day period. Our first major climb was in the Hemsedal Valley. The Hydnefossen is a 600-foot (WI6) monster consisting of mostly vertical and overhanging ice. Ice chimneys and overhangs, along with -10° wind chills, provided some very interesting climbing. This climb took us eight hours to complete, with Wilford leading the way. The descent time was three hours with miserable postholing most of the way down. After climbing some shorter routes we drove to the Laerdal Valley, where we were amazed at the number of long routes in the area. We started on the south side of the valley with a long route called Seltunfossen (III WI5, 1,300'). This straightforward route is located just off the highway. We soloed past the first 300 feet of mostly low angle climbing. We then used the full length of a 100-meter rope to climb the main flow in three long pitches of 80 to 90° ice. The two final pitches are of lower angle ice and not really worth the effort. We were interested in covering a lot of ground, so we drove farther north to the town of Otta, where we noticed a large flow just off the highway (name unknown). This climb had a fully mature pine tree growing right in the middle of the climb. This was another long route of easier climbing (WI5) for 1,000 feet. Most of the climb was moderate with one interesting pillar section accessed from a small cave. This climb gets sun all day. We then decided to drive to Sweden in search of more ice. Based on what little information we had, the town of Ostersund seemed to be the most practical option. The local climbing shop employees directed us to the Offerdal crags. This area is not impressive compared to the other areas. Most of the climbs are straightforward and short by Scandinavian standards, although we did manage to find a few interesting mixed lines. Mark then led the first ascent of what we named the Betterhoser (M5, 100'). With sore shoulders, we decided to be tourists for the last few days.

Jake Latendresse, unaffiliated