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Eight weeks without darkness

Europe’s most scenic bouldering in its most northern country

 

Sometimes it isn’t easy to say, how one came his way. Especially when this way is a 9000km long, a caravan is steadily bouncing on the back of one’s car and when the roads are steep und winded. In our case we made the whole way from Switzerland to Norway and back, because of some bouldering videos, promising us beautiful lines. And because of a trekking trip 10 years ago to Sweden, still reminding me of the beauty and the wilderness of Scandinavia’s bright summer nights and windy wastelands.

 

 Welcome to a rather special place for bouldering!

 

And even if in the beginning of the trip in mid Norway sometimes some questions marks may have reappeared, the more we came to the north, the more we just were there. Because the lines had surpassed their promises – Norway is by far Europe’s best place for bouldering. And because the bright nights and the windy wastelands had just surpassed every kind of bouldering – Norway is by far Europe’s most spectacular country.

But let’s start with the first of the six spots we visited in between June and August – Matre. Just some kilometers north of the city of Bergen the granite and the landscape reminds a lot of the Ticino. The Swiss lakes are replaced by Norwegian fjords and the edgy mountains have been rounded down by 10.000 years of heavy glaciers. Not to forget about the thousands of Ticino bouldering visitors. They are replaced by – no one. To release it already by now: Bouldering in Norway often means being all alone in the midst of a thousand boulders.

 

 The Luftwaffe project in Matre.

 

700km to the north, nearby Trondheim, lay Harbak and Vingsand. The two spots were ought to be the most hyped ones, especially for hard bouldering. We found this prejudice confirmed. The rock in both spots doesn’t remind in any way of anything in the Alps. It’s just better, being shaped by the water coming from the cost and the sky. The climbing is on boulders but as well in a lot of caves. The problems in Harbak are dense and easy to find. Not as in Vingsand, where still no topo exists and the several spots are wide spread, parts of them being situated on islands. Inform yourself properly before going there or you won’t see the full beauty of this spot! As well as in Matre in Vingsand the landscape is nice but not yet outstanding. Only Harbak shows off what Norway is able to be like.

We spent nearly three weeks in these two spots. And after having received the impression in a fast 8A ascent in Matre that my shape after the worst springtime for climbing ever wasn’t that bad, I know learned how Nalle is grading. I failed both on two sessions in Focus (8A+) and on three in Diamaten(8B). The two boulders are the hardest I have ever tried for the grade, but one the best, too. Anyways summer was coming and high ball bouldering with a baby isn’t the first thing you think of. So, for nearly the first time in my climbing life I didn’t stick to the hard projects, but traveled on.

 

 Typical Harbak back light scenery.

 

During the only real bad weather sequence we were confronted to, we headed north to Straumen. It was hardly possible to boulder with all the rain, but we got a good impression about the again brilliant rock and the great lines. The boulders lay in a shady wood full of blueberries besides a lake full of fish and the potential for new lines seems unlimited. But we were still searching for the open wasteland, the so called fjell.

Thanks to the information of Adam Ondra we finally found it in Gjerdalen, which is also called the Magic Valley. And it is truly magic. No trees. Rivers and lakes everywhere. Steep and spectacular mountains and a million boulders. The only problem was that the only existing sector was covered by a new layer of freshly fallen rock.

 

 Boulders on glacial polish in the Magic Valley/Gjerdalen.

 

Most climbers would now turn around. We stayed with perfect weather arriving and had the best time of our lives ;) or at least up in Norway. We brushed more than 30 new lines, went hiking and bathing, as the days were so hot, you only could stand it near the rivers. Gjerdalen was the perfect reunion of every desirable feature of a boulder spot we had seen on our way up: Brilliant rocks on glacial polish, stunning landscape and finally – the wide open.

We left with a tear in our eyes but were soon consoled by the again impressive shoreline of Steigen, before we set over to the Lofoten. For three weeks we hadn’t seen a single climber and hardly a brushed boulder. Now it all came back to us. In Stem Bastensen I could flash several 7C and 7C+ in a session, leaving out an 8A+ just because the landing without spotter was too rocky. I sent it day after and everything felt again like on an all normal boulder trip: Easy access, topo on the internet, smooth grading.

But we instantly missed the wilderness we had met in the Magic Valley.

And it will be this, the reason to come back as soon as possible.

To the first place full of rock I have seen that makes you forget about bouldering. Nearly. 

 

 A country like no other. (Even if it looks a bit like Africa.)

 

 Bye, bye, via Sweden.

 

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