American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Lofoten, International Winter Meet


  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year: 2009
  • Publication Year: 2010

From March 8 to 15, 2009, the Norwegian Alpine Club (Norsk Tindeklub, NTK) invited nearly 40 climbers from all over the world to Lofoten, for a “come-as-you-are” climbing meet. The event was organized by Marius Morstad, and the philosophy was simple: put climbing and adventure in focus, without add-ons like sponsors, logos, DJ’s, slideshows, and competitions—no public, no clinics, no organizers with yellow T-shirts. The ingredients of the meet were also simple: a wealth of mountains and a group of hungry climbers.

Most participants were very pleased with the meet. The climbing was adventurous, and everyone found his or her own personal challenges in the mountains. Wintertime in Lofoten is special. There are few route descriptions, no bolts, no directions. You have to rely on your own climbing and navigational skills, and are under constant threat of being overwhelmed by the scenery. Yet civilization is just around the corner. Many participants expressed their gratitude for being given the opportunity to climb under such conditions.

Routes described in this report are just a few climbed during the meet. Most of them are likely new, but it is amazing what old-timers achieved in the distant past.

Below is a selection of comments by participants, followed by one longer report:

“Climbing in the Lofoten Islands was a wonderful and breathtaking experience. The combination of mixed climbing on beautiful, steep mountains within a few meters of the arctic seashore was magical, and something we never believed existed.”—Dimitris and Mariza Daskalakis, Greece

“Lofoten is an amazing winter climbing destination. The meet was totally informal, and it was up to each climber to make his day. This meant it was a meet for experienced climbers looking for adventure, and finding their own way. The conditions were great, and loads of new high-quality lines were climbed. Not a single bolt was drilled into the rock. The locals emphasized that placing bolts on Lofoten mountain routes was bad.”— Bjorn-Eivind Aartun, Norway

“It is difficult to describe my feelings about climbing in Lofoten, because it was so fantastic: great people, great climbing, and great landscape. Perhaps the best description of the week would be the single word from Bjorn, followed by silence, when I joined him on the summit of Rulten- MAGIC! Myself, often labeled a perfectionist, can just add ‘Perfect’”— Marko Prezelj, Slovenia

“I am prepared to stand up for Norway wilderness—it has given me such pleasure and special memories. Norway has some of the biggest potential for adventure in the world, and it needs to be cherished”—Andy Cave, U.K.

“Information had been scant. All I was told was that ‘you California boys will stand out.’ As I am from Colorado, I was nervous.”—Ben Rosenberg, U.S.

“Rulten is the king of Lofoten mountains, with difficult access. Hospitable locals transported our small team of six climbers by boat. We landed beneath the mountain at sunrise. Visibility was poor, and as we were dependent on the boat ride back, we chose the easiest way up the north face—the original route. We made a hard four-pitch variant on the headwall—Scottish style mixed climbing on thin ice. A strong team of ice aces, Bjorn and Marko, were climbing close by, so we had great fun together. When we summited, the weather improved, offering lovely views of Lofoten’s mountains and islands. ‘What a magic day,’ said Marco—the real truth. And there were more unforgettable days in the mountains.”—Jiri Splichal, Czech Republic

Describing Vagakallen and his new route, Glass Uhr: “A perfect wall. We were amazed at first sight—such a playground, yet with only one existing route. Unbelievable. We spent half a day on the wall, enjoying perfect ice and mixed climbing. Not too hard but pretty long. The descent from the top can be dangerous after heavy snowfall. The way back to civilization (Kalle), dubbed by locals ‘the walk along the coast’ should be renamed ‘the struggle for survival.’ It proved an intense experience for a tired climber.”— Martin Klonfar, Czech Republic

And talking about his new route on Trollfestingen, Stop the Reactors, with Christophe Dumarest and Jiri Splichal: “A short, bold route. We were instructed by locals to ‘walk up this valley, and when you see something hard, it’s probably still unclimbed.’ So we did. The route had three pitches. The first was hard M6/M7 with a poor belay on a few knifeblades. I led it with one fall. The third pitch was funny climbing on unstable snow crust. Christophe and I shared tools, both climbing with a special strategy: Nomic in left hand, Reactor in right. Hence the name of the route.”—Martin Klonfar, Czech Republic

“Lofoten was perfect. I don’t think there could have been a better venue for this meet. One of the best aspects of these types of events is getting to know different climbers, from all over the globe, with whom you share a common bond but would otherwise not meet.”—Dave Turner, U.S.

Marten Blixt, Norway

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