Thursday, February 20, 2014


I've just returned from a great week guiding ice routes in Aurlandsdalen Norway. I was working on a course ran by Martin Moran based from the idyllic sleepy village of Aurland. Aurlandsdalen is the lesser known brother of Hemesdal and Laerdal, two more established ice climbing areas in Western Norway. Martin has been guiding in this area for almost 10 years, and has had the place more or less to himself for that time. Before heading out i'd attempted to wrap my head around the lie of the land and route options by reading Martin's pdf guide he's written to the area (and to my knowledge the only documented info), but in the end i gave up as the vastness of the place became apparent.

Our pad.

It's really intimidating going to a new area completely on sight in a guiding role. Not having a library of routes and options in one's head, or knowing the recent snow pack or ice history makes everything feel very "big" when you have two inexperienced yet eager clients in tow. Fortunately, as is often the case, there was nothing to worry about and the general trend for the week was to drive up a valley staring up at huge streaks of ice in wonder, settle on an appropriate one for the day, beat a track up to the base and climb it. Only once in the whole week did i know what route i was climbing, in fact for all we knew we were the first! - a great adventurous way of doing things. I'm sure that this combined with the fact that we didn't see any other climbers all week is why Martin loves to come back every year.

Raymond, Dawn and myself climbed the left hand pillars and continuation above on day two.

Kenny, John and Dan on the left hand line.

I was lucky enough to be partnered with Dawn and Raymond, who were super strong and keen, allowing us to barely climb anything easier than WI5 all week.

Dawn seconding what we later found out to be "The Stonner" WI5.

Back in Scotland now, and after two days of light winds, we once again have 70mph south westerlies, and MWIS is back to using words such as "buffeting effect" "torturous" and "gael force" to describe the next week. Yipee.

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