Rjukan Ice Climbing Week Report
Some of the Peak Mountaineering team have just returned from Norway where we enjoyed our Rjukan Ice Climbing Week. Here is a glimpse of how our week in ice climbing heaven pans out……
Our team of 8 clients and 4 instructors assembled in Oslo via flights from Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and Edinburgh. The Norwegian airport is about 3 hours drive from Rjukan and almost straight away you get onto snow covered roads which, although a shock to UK drivers, isn’t a big problem as all the cars are fitted with winter tyres and the local drivers are well used to the conditions. We chatted excitedly and enjoyed the journey and within what felt like no time we arrived at our hotel in the picturesque village of Austbygdi. We choose a self catering accommodation option to allow maximum flexibility and we always find everyone is happy to chip in and help with cooking. The team chatted excitedly over their first meal together and within no time everyone was getting on like old friends.
Austbygdi is about 20 minutes drive from Rjukan centre but there is good climbing only a few miles up the road and so, for day 1, the whole team headed up to a great little known venue that is always quiet. Rjukan had experienced quite a lot of snow in the week before our arrival and so we had to break a trail up to the crag but the venue offers a good selection of WI2 and WI3 routes and everyone got plenty of climbing time.
‘An excellently executed trip climbing wonderful ice in Norway. The guides were thoughtful and developed everyone skills. The accommodation was spacious and allowed everyone to get space if they needed, but also come together too. I couldn't recommend this trip enough.’
The group for this year was a mix of experienced climbers and some beginners but either option can be well catered for - Rjukan has a wide range of single and multi pitch routes at all grades and we always, unlike some providers, run the full week at a generous 1 instructor to 2 client ratio. We think it is essential to have low ratios so that everyone gets the most from their trip.
After a days climbing it is also important to have a good base to come home to and our little private hotel ticks all the boxes. Each evening a couple of people took turns at cooking and we would all sit and enjoy a meal together before people disappeared into the cosy lounge for a game of cards, a chat about the day and, invariably, a glass of whisky or two!
For day 2 everyone was keen for more single pitch action and we headed to the well know Ozzimosis venue. Everything was in good condition and we had some great performances on a stack of routes up to WI4. This venue although allows plenty of chance for skills development and also gave some team members chance to practice playing ice screws and building anchors.
‘Superb staff, superb instructors with impeccable knowledge and immensely supportive. Course was laid back, easy going and hugely rewarding. This will be my first port of call in the future without hesitation. Very highly recommended.’
For day 3 we asked the team what they fancied and the clear message was more steep single pitch ice. This allowed the instructor team an easy decision - time to visit Rjukan’s famous Krokan. Like all Rjukan venues Krokan is a really short walk in and offers a wide range of routes at all grades. Our high instructor ratio again means that, even if the group all head to the same place, they can then split up and go to different sections and focus on different things. We had groups working on movement skills, lead skills, multi-pitch techniques and a couple of team members who simply wanted to get maximum ice mileage.
We always schedule day 4 as a rest day and a chance to enjoy some of the other delights of Rjukan and also to rest tired arms. There is plenty to do in the local area and the group headed off to a variety of activities. Some wanted to hang out at the hotel and maybe have a local walk, some headed to the ski area which sits above Rjukan, others headed for Rjukan Badet (the well appointed community swimming pool and spa centre) and a few went up to see the Vemork Museum which is an intergral part of the famous Heroes of Telemark/ heavy water plant sabotage story and a defining part of Rjukan’s history. One of the team even braved the high Norway prices to buy a rather plush insulated jacket. For the instructors it was chance to relax too but they were still active. A couple of the team headed out to ski and the others went questing for WI6 ice in the upper gorge.
‘This was my first time ice climbing and decided to use Peak Mountaineering again having done a couple of courses with Paul and his team. I am now hooked. Great organisation and planning, great team of instructors who inspired confidence and safety, wonderful company and all in all something i will repeat with PM. No complaints or moans at all.’
That night we again met up and chatted through options. as always we wanted to give the team as much flexibility about their objectives as possible and expected lots of them to want to head onto multi-pitch terrain, but actually they were all keen to spend more time developing the skills we had worked on the day before our rest day. So, a return to Krokan seemed a popular option and we had another awesome day furthering the team’s technical skills and generally getting a lot of ice footage climbed.
And so, all too quickly, we faced our last day on the vertical. Another after dinner meeting and the team had decided on different objectives. Half of our group headed for the upper gorge to get onto some multi-pitch classics and half went back to Ozzimosis to work on their lead climbing skills or to enjoy a final day of movement skills on the lower tier. Some team members were even climbing WI5 at this stage in the week!
Eventually everyone met up back at the hotel for our final evening. We had a great burger and chips meal (with vegetarians and vegans equally well catered for) and we shared happy stories from the week. As a business we are in the very privileged position of being able to bring together groups of like minded enthusiasts and to aid their development over a fun and action filled week. But, as I reflected on the trip, I knew this group was so much more than that - a group of strangers had come together and, over a shared adventure, become good friends. We retired to the lounge and enjoyed the last few drams of whisky while swapping photos, sharing email addresses and having a final few games of cards. I really didn’t want the week to end.
’I think we are planning a Norway revisit! We really did love it all and just wanted to reiterate what a great time we had. Many thanks to you and the boys for all your hard work - to boot with much joy and enthusiasm.....and blessed of course to have such a friendly and compatible group. All round big thumbs up.’
Our final day involved the journey to the airport and flights and onward travel back home. Oslo Airport is a comfortable 2.5 hours from the hotel and a 90 minute flight is all that is needed to get everyone back to their variety of UK airports. Everyone was back in time for an early evening sort out and to think about the working week ahead - and maybe even to start planning their return next winter?
We are expanding our Rjukan operations for 2019 and will have a full fortnight of opportunities to consider. Details are just being finalised and will be live on the website within the next week. No previous ice climbing experience is needed and we really do hope you can join us for something very special. Do feel free to drop us a message via our Contact Form here to express your interest and we will get more details straight to you.
Posted by Paul
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