Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Ice Climbing, take two.

Tip of the day: Always bring spare socks. No one likes wet socks.

So on the 24th of April we were paid a visit by Bill Bailey as he played a gig for the northernmost town in the world. But apparently that wasn't a fun enough day and so when faced with the opportunity to go ice climbing with Noel and Arnau, naturally I couldn't pass the opportunity up.

Our target was a frozen waterfall north of Longyearbyen at Hyperittfossen:

This required travelling about for about an hour by snowscooter. Of course by this point it's nothing new and we've been numerous places by such modes of transport. However the snow scooter that I was afforded the luxury of using was that of Jamie Rodgers. I was warned beforehand that the scooter had no suspension but oh my, that was one hell of a bumpy ride. I don't think I could have physically gone above 70 kph or so and that was whilst on the verge of being propelled over the steering after each bump. No surprise that I had a hell of a lot of fun doing so!

So we arrived and it was a grey day but nothing terrible, no wind so a win there. All seemed well until we got to the top of the climb and Noel unfortunately fell through some hidden slush and procured a very moist foot in the process. A spare sock later and Noel was fine and ready to do some route prep. Just look at this photogenic man.

So the frozen waterfall was a 2 stage fall, the first was more of a slope and the second was sheer. Whilst Noel and Arnau scaled the first slope I took the scooter down to the lower slope and waited for them to set the top of sheer drop. This of course meant that I had a little while to take some pictures:

Once the top anchor was set, Arnau took the first climb:

Followed by Noel:

And then myself:

So much fun! I can pretty safely say that this is something I wouldn't have been able to do in the UK and I can definitely say that it's something I will do again. Mind you, next time I won't go about doing the following:

Seems that crampons tend to stick to ice and thus I ended up the wrong way round on the descent, at least Arnau got his picture of me failing (Y).

After all that excitement I was content. Arnau had other ideas though and decided that he just had to climb some of the rock as well, I swear this guy is obsessed or something. But with good reason, he is a rather good climber after all:

Though turns out it wasn't only me to have a minor issue whilst climbing. Arnau didn't end up the wrong way round but he could have had a much worse finale. One of the cams decided it had a problem with the wall and slipped out, given that the cams are the thing holding the rope in place on a lead climb, that fall wouldn't have been fun.

Once Arnau had scaled this face, there was a need to retrieve the top anchor that had been set. Naturally I got in way over my head and required rescuing but, I like to think I had everything under control...

And then it was time for Bill Bailey, and damn he was hilarious. We were sat center front and thus, naturally, were the ones to be picked on. "Give me the groove?" (In-joke for the Svalbuds)

All in all, a good day :)

Time for a cuppah I think.

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