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Northern lights
Photo by Klaus Kranebitter
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Photo by Klaus Kranebitter
Storfossen WI7- X  170m
Photo by Klaus Kranebitter
Goldrush 200m, WI5+
Photo by Klaus Kranebitter

Norway ice climbing trip for Albert Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner


Ice climbing to ice climbing around the Lyngen Fjord in Norway by Albert Leichtfreid from Austria.

Last year Albert Leichtfried from Austria travelled to Norway to discover first-hand why this is one of the Kingdom's of ice climbing. Unfortunately though the weather gods was not on his side and, with unusually high temperatures, he returned empty handed. Not one to be disheartened, Leichtfired returned this year together with habitual climbing partner Benedikt Purner to the Lyngen Fjord close to Tromsø. With precious little information to go by, the fortnight proved adventurous and Leichtfried stated afterwards "this time we had as much luck with the weather as we had bad luck last year... The trip to Lygen proved to be one of the most intensive, impressive and successful I've ever been on." His report is published below.

Lyngen Fjord 2010 by Albert Leichtfried
Adventures usually come about by attempting to realise an extraordinary idea. This story was triggered by a meeting with Graham Austick, the owner and manager of Lygen Lodge on the northern tip of Norway. Graham told me of breathtaking scenery and tons of ice in the Lyngen Alps. I immediately booked the flights to Tromsø, to end a perfect ice season Benedikt Purner and I wanted to make our ice axes glow once again. And to reflect the mood and climbing as perfectly as possible we were accompanied by photographer Klaus Kranebitter and filmmaker Hannes Mair.

When we arrived in Tromsø the icy north greeted us with temperatures far below freezing. We passed countless ice formations located directly next to the road, just these would have been ample for weeks of climbing, and through our binoculars we repeatedly caught sight of more distant icefalls. We then met Torbjörn, the owner of a fishing lodge in Lyngen, and were reasssured. He calmly showed us the house, with just a few words he explained everything. Our accommodation was located about fifty meters from the Lyngen Fjord beach, surrounded by the imposing peaks of the Lyngen Alps. The house on the beach was fully equipped, even with a sauna. We quickly got used to living in this atmospheric and remote area. Stress doesn't seem to exist here. Everything runs smoothly and steadily.

The first four days were intense and impressive. Hannes and Klaus worked hard to immortalise the moments before the Northern Lights brought our work-stress to a climax, at exactly 11.00pm. The climbing proved challenging, with temperatures constantly ranging between -8°C and -22°C and extremely brittle ice. Add to this the approaches to the routes, with snowshoes and usually up to two hours to reach the base of the climbs. Apart from Graham's photos we could hardly find any information about the icefalls at the Lyngenfjord, and adventure in this absolute wilderness is the name of the game. Whether what we climbed were first ascents or not was difficult to establish: there were no traces of previous ascents on all the routes we climbed and so we gave each icefall a name and grade. We started leisurely at Nordkjosboten, climbing the 60m "Startfossen" WI4 at a demanding -22°C while on day 2 we climbed the 130m high "Gullyvers Reisen" WI5, a real delight. The next day we took an early ferry across the Fjord to Lyngseidet where two routes awaited us, from a distance these two golden streaks appeared a greenish blue. "Goldrush" 200m, WI5+ and "Rapunzel" 230m, WI5 were two airy outings high above the Fjord with guaranteed panoramic views. A day later we fought our way through a snowstorm and up the thin and steep "Manner mag man eben" 120m, M6/WI5+ in the Spesiell Canyon. Temps dropped down to -19°C and the decision to take a rest day an proved an easy one.

Right in the back of the canyon we discovered our next aim, a completely wild icefall. But first we were attracted by a line next to our gear stash: "Kälteschock" 80m, WI6 X with its largely free-standing sections was climbed with the utmost care. As we abseiled off our pulse started to race, Benni and I realised what was in store: an ice belching, 150m high monster. Thousands of tons of ice hung extremely precariously off the wall and we could feel how dangerous it was even on the walk-in... countless blocks of ice lay strewn at the base. We chose the safest line and climbed as quickly as possible up the monstrous "Storfossen" WI7- X, a spectacular attraction not only in summer. We wanted to relax a bit the next day and check out a new area above the road. The sun shone, the photos were perfect but we failed to relax as "Roadside" WI7 proved far more demanding then we had originally thought, as slivers of ice and free-standing drips led the way upwards through the overhang.

The next day dawned and with it came a different type of adventure. Torbjörn prepared his small 50 horsepower fishing boat and wished us luck: he'd collect us from the harbour should the wind pick up in the afternoon, as we wouldn't be able to make it back on our own. I accelerated, the spray flew over the deck and we sped across the Fjord. On the other side the 120m high "Lyngen magic" WI5 was bathed in sunlight and another real delight. The wind failed to blow and as we retuned the sun dipped low and reflected impressively in the waves. A feeling of total satisfaction ebbed through my body. I was happy and thankful to be able to live my dream.

Routes 2010
Spakenes Fischerlodge: 69.761774,20.463696
Lyngen Lodge: 69.740266,20.517254
"Startfossen" WI4 60m - 69.224339,19.598808
"Gullyvers Reisen" WI5 130m - 69.445057,20.96117

Spesiell Canyon: 69.400893,20.98177
"Manner mag man eben" 120m, M6/WI5+
"Kälteschock" 80m, WI6 X
"Storfossen" WI7- X  170m

Roadside: 69.551233,20.403271
"Gehsteig" WI5+ 80m (to the right of Roadside)
"Roadside" WI7  80m

Goldrush: 69.541635,20.201054
"Goldrush" 200m, WI5+
"Rapunzel" 230m, WI5

Lygen magic: 69.541635,20.201054
"Lyngen magic" WI5 120m

- Check out the intro video to the Lyngen Fjord ice climbing trip





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