All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Wintery ride

In Feb in Surrey, there was some proper snow for once. A foot or so of what could only be described as powder. In Surrey of all places, land of the wet shitty 1 inch of snow normally.

So what to do in a foot powder snow.............ride you mountain bike of course, so an extended lunch was taken, being a Monday and all and off I set on my normal quick blast loop of an hour, 2 hours later and I was still on my way back.

The deep snow had made for hard work and many great photo opportunities and therefore it had taken longer than expected. But it was great to see so many people out and having fun and kids being kids.

In a few places the snow was well over a foot deep and at Newlands corner, snowboarders had taken the opportunity to have some fun before heading to the Alps.

The single speed performed awesomely as usual and came back a lot cleaning than when it headed out.

New tracks

I hoped for more snow, but it never arrived, so made the most of riding in what was left for the following week.

Iceclimbing - Rjukan

Long time between posts. But there will be more but shorter to encourage me to do them.

So climbing in Rjukan what's it like? Well it was great, when we arrived it lived up to our expectation. A deep cut valley with high steep valley walls and it was cold.

The first day of climbing we headed to Ozzimosis area unfortunately the name sake of this area was a bit brittle and unusually for the temperatures (-6) seeping runoff behind the curtain of ice. This was a bit annoying as it was one of the routes I wanted to try and it looked like a nice line.

Anyway, not to waste time I decided to make my first ice waterfall lead a sensible WI2, Minidisken which turned out to be quite fat and at the crux, it pushed you back a bit more than expected. It was good option for my first route and let me play with the placements and get use to moving on the ice and learning to reading it.

Nik followed quickly, a quick absail and we were down.

Next was Anakje, a WI3, also fat for thick ice and on the wrong side of not being vertical, with some suspect ice lower down making the first placement quite high of the ground. At points I had to chip away at a cruddy layer of surface ice to find a nice compact layer underneath, before continuing on.

Once at the top and safe on belay Nik started up, put in a great effort on the steeper bit of the route and the photo below shows the unexpected steepness near the top. A quick absail and another little extremely thin scrambly route and we had to head for the bus.

That night we celebrated Claire's birthday and hope that despite feeling cold, that she had a great day.

The next day, the temperatures had risin to 0 degrees and the area we had choosen, Susses Veil, proved to be an interesting choice considering the conditions, but was choosen to allow my toes a chance to recover and to teach Claire, the fundamentals of multipitch climbing, belay setup and dismanteling, absailing techniques.

After a short walk in and soe winding through deep snow and trees above the Vemork power station, we arrived at Sessues Veil. Grab some gear and scrambled to a flatter section a few meters higher up the hill. At this point I had a play and discovered that infact the snow and ice had been layered here. Creating a 2-3inch layer of ice, over a 2-3 inch layer of snow and this layering was repeated to the depth of about 10 or so inches. The ice on the columns proved to be soft from the warmer temps that had clearly gone up since arriving. So we decided to have a play around on the large leadge we were on with the gear placement and belays stations and absail rigs and then headed off to look at a couple of roadside routes.

These were wet and soft also, so discretion was determined to be the better part of valour, we headed back for tea and biscuits. Then a lot of alcohol, which Tim decided we needed to finished there and then, he paid the penalty.

The next day was a trip to the famous Vemork power station and the permanent exhibition, which if you have a half day or a rest day is worth the time and very interesting. Then after this, it was the long drive back tot eh airport and home.

Rjukan is a great place to time and I came back with a tick list a mile long, but two key routes being, Ozzimosis and Sabotorfossen and I can't wait to go back.

But next years ice is Chamonix, Peglers Ice Fest and it is already booked. :-)