Seventy degrees north

Adventures usually emerge from the attempt to realise an extraordinary idea. The idea for this trip leads its seeds by a meeting with Graham Austick, the owner and manager of the Lyngen Lodge which is located 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 complete a perfect ice season Benedikt Purner and I wanted to make our ice axes glow one more time. To be able to reproduce our emotions, the adventure and the climbing in its best possible way two of our friends – the photographer Klaus Kranebitter and the filmmaker Hannes Mair - came along.

Temperatures far beyond the frost line

When we arrive in Tromsø, we are saluted by temperatures far below freezing. We pass countless ice formations located along the road that could make the trip worthwhile. Through our binoculars we spot more distant icefalls. We then meet Torbjörn, the owner of a fishing lodge in Lyngen which is supposed to be our home-base for the next two weeks. According to Norwegian mentality he shows us the house explaining everything with very little words. Our accommodation is located about fifty meters from the Lyngen Fjord beach, surrounded by the imposing peaks of the Lyngen Alps. The house on the beach is fully equipped, we even have a sauna. It isn’t hard to get used to living in this atmospheric and remote area. Stress doesn't seem to exist here. Everything runs smoothly and steadily.

Adventure inside the absolute wildness

The first four days are intense and impressive. Hannes and Klaus work hard to immortalise the moments before the Northern Lights bring our working-effort to a climax, exactly at 11 p.m. The climbing turns out to be challenging, with temperatures ranging between -8°C and -22°C making the ice extremely brittle. The approaches to the routes with snowshoes usually take up to two hours. Apart from Graham's photos we can hardly find any information about the icefalls at the Lyngenfjord, and so adventure in this absolute wilderness seems to be the name of the game here. It’s difficult to find out whether the icefalls we climb are first ascends or not. We don’t find any traces of former ascents on all the routes we climb and so we decide to name each icefall and give it a grade. Nordkjosboten is an easy-going start, but at temperatures of -22°C even the ascent of the 60m long "Startfossen", WI4 becomes a demanding mission. On day 2 we climb the 130m high "Gullyvers Reisen", WI5 which turns out to be a real delight. The next day we take an early ferry across the Fjord to Lyngseidet where two routes are waiting for us. From a distance the two golden lines appear in a greenish blue. "Goldrush" 200m, WI5+ and "Rapunzel" 230m, WI5 are high above the Fjord guaranteeing panoramic views. One day later we make our way through a snowstorm and up the thin and steep "Manner mag man eben" 120m, M6/WI5+ in the Spesiell Canyon. Temperatures drop down to -19°C making the decision to take a rest day an easy one.

Storfossen and Roadside – grade seven ice

At the back of the canyon we discover our next target, a completely strange formation of ice. Nevertheless we first are attracted by a line next to where we have our equipment: We both know that we have to climb "Kälteschock" 80m, WI6 X with its enormous and free-hanging sections with the utmost care. As we abseil down our pulse starts to rise, Benni and I immediately realise what is awaiting us: an ice spitting 150m high monster. Thousands of tons of ice are precariously hanging off the wall and we get to assess how dangerous it is even to walk in: countless blocks of ice are lying at the access. Bearing this in mind we choose to take the safest line up and climb as fast as possible up the monstrous "Storfossen" WI7- X, which turns out to be a spectacular attraction not only in summer. The next day we plan to relax a little and check out a new area right above the road. The sun is shining, the pictures are perfect but "Roadside" WI7 proves to be far more demanding then we originally thought as glazes of ice and free-standing icicles are leading the way up through the overhang.

Lyngen magic – boattrip at the Lyngenfjord

The next day is dawning and with it comes a different type of adventure. Torbjörn prepares his small 50 horsepower fishing boat and wishes us luck: if the wind picked up strongly in the afternoon he will collect us from the harbour as we wouldn't be able to make it back to our beach on our own. I accelerate, the spray flies over the deck and we speed across the Fjord. Arriving on the other side, we make our way up another real delight: the 120m high "Lyngen magic" WI5 which is bathing in the sunlight. Thanks to God, the wind does not pick up and as we return we are getting an amazing view of the setting sun, impressively reflected in the waves. A feeling of total satisfaction is flowing through my body. I am happy and thankful to be able to live my dream.

Film-trailer: Lyngenalps 2010 Trailer

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