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Trad first ascents - Scandinavia

Norway and Sweden are often regarded as the enigmatic destinations of world trad climbing. Our exploratory trips around the turn of the Century certainly provided us with a glimpse of the immense potential of both countries. 

 

 
 Leo Houlding on the crux pitch of Firefox E7, Jossingfjord in 1998. Photo: Andy Cave

Leo Houlding on the crux pitch of Firefox E7, Jossingfjord in 1998. Photo: Andy Cave

Firefox, E7 6a, 6b, 6a, 5c Jossingfjord, Norway with Leo Houlding. 08.98

 

After days of touring around the fjords near Stavanger, Leo Houlding, Adam Wainwright, Andy Cave, Trym Saeland and I were preparing to throw in the towel. We had hoped to get our teeth into some trad new routing but instead we spent a week being savaged by midges, soaked by torrential rain and wading around in waist-deep in bogs. However, the looming silhouette of Profile Wall, the huge, severely leaning crag on the skyline above the Jossingfjord was surely the answer to our prayers. On close inspection we found that the wall was laced with thin cracks and seams, most of which were old aid lines, and some which looked futuristic but free’able. Leo and I set to work on a line which turned out to be the steepest and one of the best trad climbs I’ve ever done. The final slab pitch should have been straightforward but it had a waterfall running down it and turned out to be the crux!

 Post Modern Arete E6 6c, Halle. First ascent in 1999.  Photo: Gresham collection

Post Modern Arete E6 6c, Halle. First ascent in 1999.

Photo: Gresham collection

Post Modern Arete E6 6c & Scrubin’ Wall Clean E5 6a  Halle, Sweden 06.99

 

The inland territories of southern Sweden offer an abundance of granite crags and in the summer of 1999, a small team of British climbers including Leo Houlding, Patch Hammond, Charlie Woodburn, Rick Smee and myself went out to investigate the potential of the Gothenburg region. At the time, a raging bolting debate was playing out, but we did our best to swerve the controversy and headed out to Halle, a predominantly trad crag, where I made the second ascent of Rikard Ekehed’s E8 6c testpiece, Minaret. Meantime, Leo put up the incredibly bold Savage Horse E9 6c, and Charlie Woodburn added Thin End of the Wedge E7 6c on the arête of a freestanding boulder. I finished up with two more new lines on the upper tier: Post Modern Arete E6 6c, a technical balancy number with low gear and Scrubin’ Wall Clean E5 6a, a long meandering wall climb. This is a first class climbing area, tainted only by the ethical feuds, which still remained unresolved two decades on. 

 Scrubbin' Wall Clean E5 6a, Halle. First ascent in 1999.  Photo: Gresham collection

Scrubbin' Wall Clean E5 6a, Halle. First ascent in 1999.

Photo: Gresham collection

Sweden