|First pitch of Normalveien|
The climbing moved between steps and ledges. The easy angled sections and shelves were banked-out with unconsolidated snow. I needed to methodically sweep this in order to discover the contours of the ice beneath. On steeper sections the ice was a little fissured, encouraging me to be conservative with screw placements to guard against the unexpected. The combination of snow sweeping and regular screw placements made for progress slow and sieged.
|Me versus snow|
|Midway up the first pitch|
Towards the top of the pitch the ice narrowed into a pair of columns. They had looked steep from the ground but manageable. At closer inspection the ice looked brittle and 'flash-formed', with holes running through like a honeycomb. The left-hand column in particular was best not interfered with. The right.hand column was consolidated enough to have a try but finding screw placements looked an optimistic affair. The best I could do was to place a couple of screws at the base.
I sunk an axe into a small area of dense ice at full reach, climbed up to it and bridged wildly against a blob of ice on the neighbouring right wall. Then the challenge of finding a higher axe placement. The ice shattered and cracked wherever I aimed due to its fragility. The only patch of decent ice appeared to lie where my existing axe rested and I blowing my sound placement in the process of trying to find second was of real concern. With fading arms I backtracked down to my two screws a metre of so beneath my feet. The column didn't seem on. Concerns were also rising in my mind about the ice immediately above, which looked steeply slabbed and featureless and likely thin. Better to know when to quit than to push on regardless. I made a belay so that Anna could climb up to join me. Then we escaped the route with an abalakov.
Definitely one to return for if ever I am in the area again.
|Wild moves for WI4|
|Before (left) and after (right) the snow-sweeping|