Updated: Jul 22
I've just got back from the Lofoten Islands, it's been 5 years since my last visit! Wow, it was great to be back there again. Myself and Alan Pearson, a fellow Mountaineering Instructor (MI), decided to head north and get some mileage under our belts ready for next year.
The plan was thus....Fly from Edinburgh, via Oslo to Bodo.....leg-it across town to catch the next ferry to Moskenes, grab the bus to Rovik...just a short walk later, we'd be in Djupfjord! Easy. All whilst carrying huge rucksacks with 7 days food and camping shizzle! Well, we gave it a go...
Down-side.. your baggage gets delayed at Oslo. Ah, an over-nighter in Bodo. Can't afford a room, so its the airport floor for us! Lesson-learded...the airport closes from 1200-0400, make sure you carry a light sleeping_bag in your 'Carry-on' baggage! That way you can chuckle away at the poor folk having to doing aerobics to keep warm ;-).....Hugry and tired, but happily unencumbered by our giant rucksacks, we walked into town to check-out the late-night supermarkets for some food.
As we approached the town-centre, we discovered that Bodo has a rent-a-scooter scheme.... yes!! A quick download of the 'Bird' app later and we were off. Life was good again, two big kids on scooters. At some point on our ride, which included an ascent of a giant Deck-chair, we decided that Lyndon, our injured buddy back in the Lake District, needed his very own Lofoten pod-cast. .... just to keep him 'in' on the action, obviously!!
The next morning saw us patiently waiting for our luggage, Super-tired, but hopeful. Finally, the Norwegian Air 1400 from Oslo touched-down. Smiling, we lugged our 30kgs of burden to the ferry port....those poor scooters!
The crossing was great, mainly because it was free! The routes that previously carried less that 10,000 passengers have been made free to foot-passengers, what a result! As the Lofoten Islands came into view we started to plan for the next few days. It was looking like we'd have a short window-of-opportunity (24hrs) before we were hit by 2 days of rain.... Sleep would need to wait..... after a short power-nap..... we were tired after all.
The bus journey from Moskenes to Rorvik was the best ride ever! comfy seats and stunning views. I had been wittering-on at Alan for months about how stunning this place was, dearly needed power-naps would have to wait.... Alan and I soaked-in the mountain scenery.
We alighted our second bus at Rorvik bus-stop. With only one change, at Leknes, and costing a reasonable £25, we were pretty satisfied.. Weary, but determined to grab a route before rain came, We shouldered our gear a walked the 3km to Djupfjord.
Opting for an out-of-the-way site up in the boulder field, we pitched our tents and officially took-up residence in Djupfjord. For safety and morale reasons we deemed it essential to grab a power-nap.... sleep couldn't wait after-all!
Given that we would be availed of 24 hour daylight, we'd planned to just 'Eat-Sleep-Climb', like on the T-shirts I see people wearing..... Cracking plan! We dragged ourselves out of our sleeping bags, whatever time it actually was really didn't matter. We were still tired, but Bare Blaeber (you may have noticed that I don't actually have a Norwegian keyboard? or maybe not) beckoned. The name of the climb translates to 'Only Billberries' a Norwegian phrase for something simple. The route itself is some 8 pitches long, most teams Rap-off after 6 though as the abseil station is close-by, the top 2 pitches being considered of lesser quality. My advice, do the top 2 pitches, they're definitely worthwhile.
The 'walk-in' is stunning! The crystal-clear water of the lower fjord reflects the rock-faces and buttresses that tower above. The views are sublime. We followed the climbers path through the boulder field that separates the upper and lower fjords and started our ascent. The route is so popular that its not uncommon for every pitch to be occupied.... So when we emerged from the slog up the forested path, we were pretty relieved to see that there was only one other team there ahead of us. A Finnish team of 3 were slowly racking-up at the foot of the climb, and being 'good-eggs', they kindly allowed us to crack-on in front of them. Going at N5- (VS 4c) and every pitch being of a high quality, we set-off in anticipation of a great day.
Pitch 1 deals quickly with the easier angled lower wall, with a little smearing and easy lay-backing, its a great warm-up for the rest of the route. Pitch 2 is where the fun really starts! Delicate moves up the now steepening slab, a well protected crux across polished smears that makes you grin like an idiot, or flap like a chicken! Then run-it-out to the belay....just ace!
It's really worth getting some Lofoten-mileage under your belt before getting on this route. It's an amazing day-out, and could well be spoiled if you jump on it too early and flap-like-a-good 'un!
Pitch 3 sees a lot of folk climbing too high up into the huge recess above. There's great gear in there, big cams and hexes. But the higher you go, the more strenuous and precarious the move out onto the slab becomes! Throw-in a couple of well-placed runners and get out onto the slab early, enjoy the delicate foot work and relish the 'I am Alex Honold' moment as you pad-your-way up steep, friction-tastic Granite!
The route just keeps on giving, high quality climbing, loads a gear, stunning views 360! Climbing the final slab is a great finale, the 40m crack swallows gear and it's inane-grins all the way to the top. Even the abseil descent, after a quick traverse, keeps you smiling. You just spend 3 rope-lengths marvelling at the mountain scenery and wondering where Bare Blaeber stacks-up against you all-time favourite VS routes?
What a cool start to the trip!
Somewhere on the route Lyndon got himself a new pod-cast.... and a plan was hatched, to grab some food back at camp, then head out to another crag while it was still dry. Cool Beans!
To be continued.....