Lofoten

 The view towards our campsite

June got off to a great start for me this year when I was lucky enough to visit the stunning Lofoten islands. This is somewhere that I had heard about for a long time and had always really appealed to me. It is situated well up in the Arctic circle, off the west coast of Norway, so getting there can be a bit of an ordeal. After some research and advice from people who had been out there previously, we decided that the best option for the time frame that we we going to be there was to fly into Sweden and then drive up and across into Norway, allowing us to travel on better roads and also make use of the slightly cheaper prices in Sweden.

The team

Joining me on the trip were Craigy, Ben and Dayle. Ben had visited the islands a few years ago, but for the rest of us it would be our first time, so we were equally excited to get out there and see what it was like. June is really when the rock climbing season starts to kick off again, and although it tends to be the driest month it can some times be a bit of a gamble temperature wise. So when we arrived in the north of Sweden to find lakes frozen and lots of snow in the hills, we were all a little bit nervous as to how much climbing we would be able to get done if conditions were the same in Lofoten! Although there was more snow around and slightly lower temperatures than we had expected, the sheer volume of rock meant that there were lots of areas that were snow free, and so there was plenty of climbing to be done.
We had given ourselves 15 days for the trip, which meant we had 11 full days in Lofoten, with a few days either side for travelling. One of the things that we all found unusual about the trip was the fact that we had 24 hour daylight. Although it made sleeping a little tricky, it also meant that there was never any time pressure to get off routes before it got dark. This lead to the trip having a very relaxed and laid back feel about it, which when combined with the quality of the rock gave one of the best climbing trips I think I’ve ever been on.
Between the 2 climbing pairs we managed to get through quite a few of the classic routes in the area, with the highlight being an ascent of the vestpillaren. This is a 12 pitch route which is given the Norwegian grade 6, and is the route that people come to Lofoten to climb. The climbing in the area is mainly on very compact granite, and tends to follow crack and grove systems, meaning that the majority of the climbing is relatively safe, however there are still lots of bold slabby climbs to go and scare yourself on!

The Presten. Vestpillaren climbs the right hand side of this face
Pitch 1 of Vestpillaren
Pitch 8 of vestpillaren, amazing laybacking corner
The Slanting corner, pitch 9 of vestpillaren
Ben enjoy the fantastic jams on pitch 5 of Bare blåbær

After almost 2 weeks of fantastic climbing, in weather that was very kind to us, it was with regret that we packed up camp to start our journey back to Stockholm. For me, Lofoten had definitely lived up to my expectations, it is an amazing part of the world, and we barely even scratched the surface in terms of how much climbing there is to do there, on both new and existing lines. It is well worth a visit, and is certainly somewhere that I hope to revisit.

A little video of the trip put together by Craig Hiller

 

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