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Vagakallen North Face, Invasion in the Land of Vikings

The alarm clock sounds and our small troop prepares for the big day. The atmospheric pressure was high and we hoped that the beautiful March weather had returned. We departed at 4 a.m. and quickly swallowed the approach. We were light as all the gear was already at the bottom of the face. We realized that today would be the day to climb this face, or we would give it up, having only two days left before we had to depart.

On our first attempt, after finishing three easy pitches through a great slope of heavy snow and ice, we had arrived at the foot of the first difficulty of the face in bad weather. With the assistance of Julie and Pierre Normand we chopped a bivy site in the face. It began storming and although we had our sleeping bags and rucksacks, we ran out of gas. It was necessary to scout the route to see what was above. We wondered if the route would open up higher. It was 9 a.m. and the temperature already was 4°C! Leaving our gear under a large boulder, we descended to the hut to regroup.

Morale the next day wasn’t at its highest. The sky was gray and the temperatures weren’t much better than the day before. We covered the approach in 35 minutes and recovered the gear. We quickly ascended the first three lengths and attacked the first ice gully. I led the fine ice lines that zigzagged up the center of the face. The team followed quickly on the moderate terrain. Protection and belays were difficult because of the thin ice: 10-12cm on average. We continued three more pitches in deteriorating weather.

Two pitches from the top, the terrain became slightly more technical, to my pleasure! The first pitch started with dry tooling in a chimney, choked in places with snow, which led to a fine gully of mixed terrain. After a mixed departure and some shaky terrain, my search for a route led to a beautiful crossing where a snow slope opened the route to the top. I found a crack and placed two beautiful pitons there. The summit was ours! After the obligatory congratulations and enjoying the fine Norwegian alpine views, we started the descent. The night caught up with us on the descent and the sky revealed its stars, the lights of Svolvaer, and the fishing vessels at sea. By midnight everyone whirred into the hut with a great feeling of accomplishment.

Invasion in the Land of Vikings (north face) (650m, V French TD+4, Scottish 4+-/5, M6), David Jonglez, Pierre Plaze, Perrine Marceron, Jean-Hugues Marchai, and Stéphane Mouret, March 11, 2004. Other expedition members: Julie Gerber, Cécile Chauvin, and Pierre Normand.

David Jonglez, French Alpine Club of Savoie