In February, 4 staff from the Covent Garden store headed out to Rjukan, Norway for a week of ice climbing. The team was made up Calum Mallory, Mollie Hughes, Malgosia Skowronska and Matthew Wharton. They were joined by former employee Benjamin Donovan and good friend Pete Frost. Here is Matthew's account...
We reached Oslo Torp airport on Sunday afternoon. Hiring a car was easy and we headed for the Climb Inn, Rjukan. We arrived late in the day so headed straight for a good nights sleep. The next day we got chatting to the other climbers staying at the Climb Inn. We even bumped into a few customers from the shop that we had sold gear to the previous week! Rjukan was unseasonably warm so there were very few areas in condition. We headed to Ozzimosis area. After some climbing on some easier grade waterfalls, I decided to be the first to try a bold lead and sent Ozzimosis (WI4). I went up a well used section of the waterfall so the climbing was perhaps a bit easier than usual. After my ascent, Calum climbed a much less used (and therefore harder) variant of the waterfall. It was a great first day.
The second day we wanted some multi pitch action. Me and Ben took on Nye Vemorkfoss (WI5) whilst Calum and Mollie climbed Sabotørfossen (WI5). Each route took us around 4 hours. It was spectacular climbing and we felt very tested by these routes. The rest of the day was spent soloing some big, steep snow and ice gullies.
Third day was spent in Krokan area. This area contains lots of quality hard single pitch climbing. The highlight of the day for me was climbing a very difficult free hanging pillar of ice with Ben. It was too hard to climb in one go, so me and Ben took it in turns to try it, placing a few screws at a time each, before Ben topped out on the route. We also saw Calum complete a clean ascent of another difficult pillar of ice. It was an impressive sight to watch.
The rest of the week was spent in similar fashion, with more single and multi pitch climbing in Krokan area and the Upper Gorge area. We even managed an exciting night climb on the roadside waterfall Svingfoss (WI4).
Regular readers of the blog will know that some members of our group such as Mollie and Malgosia are no strangers to the tests of high altitude mountaineering, but I think for all of us it was the first time on a pure technical ice climbing trip. We all learnt a lot and refined our climbing skills, ready for our various trips to the Alps and Himalayas this year.
Join Calum and Mollie in the covent garden store on 3rd April as they attempt to break a world record by climbing the height of Mount Everest on the Vertical Chill ice wall, whilst raising money for their own Everest expedition.