Nissedal tripping[The trip report can be seen with photos on my site, here: http://hasemannphotos.com/nissedal-tripping/ ]
A longing for climbing longer rock routes sent me and my two good friends Peter Maul and Nikolaj Hansen on an early season trip to Nissedal in Norway during the first weekend of May. With only three days off it would be a fast hit-and-run trip, Friday afternoon the car was packed in a hurry and we went off into the Copenhagen rush hour heading for the bridge to Sweden. The excitement, joy and relaxation kicked in immediately and we looked forward to the days to come. The Swedish countryside went by to the sound of music and laughter with only the necessary breaks for petrol. The Nissedal guidebook was studied and the excitement built up; we were ready for the mountains.
It was a 10 hour ride and eventually Sweden turned black and the night driving began. Tiredness soon sat in and we started driving in shifts as Sweden turned to Norway. However, at this time of the year the night doesn’t last long and the slowly increasing cool, blue light announced that a new day was on its way. It’s that time of day where everything feels quiet and it was as time stood still when we drove out into the empty roads of Telemarken with ever turning roads, hundreds of lakes and endless forests around us. The hills grew bigger and the sun rose on the horizon and put some life back in our tired heads as we reached the small village of Treungen on the banks of the lake Nisser. All around us were now huge granite domes formed and shaped by glaciers ages ago. Unfortunately the weather was quite gloomy and not what the whether forecast had promised just 12 hours earlier. So the sleeping mats were rolled out on the quiet main square of Treungen and we had us a nap. A few hours later the whether had improved and we decided to give it a go.
Usually the dirt road to Hægefjell opens not until the 17th of May, but because of little snow this year it had been opened earlier. The scenic road took us into the backcountry and then suddenly Hægefjell came into view in front of us – and what a sight. The huge granite south face of Hægefjell was towering above us, 400 metres into the sky. It looked great and it is not difficult to see why the routes on Hægefjell are the most popular ones in the area. Most of the routes are slabby and protected by natural gear if possible and otherwise with bolts.
We parked at the small, basic campspot below the mountain and quickly sorted our gear. Because of our late start we were going for the easy, classic route ‘Via Lara’ and made the short walk to the base of it. This route is said to be Norway’s most climbed longer route and it can be very crowded. This day we had it all to ourselves, in fact there were only one other party on the whole mountain wall. The route is easy to find, two parallel cracks run up the whole face and send out promises of nice climbing on perfect rock. The sun was now out and almost all of the clouds had disappeared. I lead the first pitch which was a diagonal traverse to the aforementioned cracks because we took the “high start”-variation. From there the pitches just went on and on with easy but great Norwegian 4th class climbing and we took turns leading the whole way. There were some wet spots and small streams running down the mountain here and there because of melting snow at the summit this early in the season, but most of the time we were able to avoid the water and only occasionally use a wet hold.
About halfway up the route gets steeper and the exposure built up below our feet. It felt great. When the sun became hidden behind the mountain it got much colder but that could not sour our moods. After 7 long pitches and some unroped easy slabs at the end we were at the top of Hægefjell and were welcomed by the setting sun and stunningly beautiful views all around us. We started the hike down back to camp in the beautiful evening light and felt happy after completing the great climb.
Back at camp we had some food before pitching the tents among the large boulders on the meadow.
The alarm went off early; we were in the middle of a wonderful climbing area and we were not there to sleep in. We talked about the route for the day over breakfast while looking up at the impressive granite dome next to us. In the end we decided that it was best not to go on some of the harder routes on Hægefjell with the water streams running down the face. Instead we packed our things and took the short ride to Baremlandsfjellet that with its south facing amphitheatre catches a lot of sun, and we hoped the rock would be totally dry there. So it was and we headed up the bolted route called “Harry Pothead”, graded 6-. It is a three pitches slab route, but where yesterday’s slab was equipped with nice holds this one was not, and it was also steeper. So it offered pure friction climbing with only using the hands for balance. That is a type of climbing that can really get the nerves going in a climber who mostly climbs in the gym. It was also, however, very rewarding to find out that the bad footholds were in fact good enough as long as there was enough rubber in contact with the rock and that progress could be made quite effortlessly when relaxing. We lead one pitch each with quite sustained difficulties and then stood on a nice crest with views back to Lake Nisser with another great route done.
It was therefore with a bit of disappointment that we found out that the whether forecast for the next day did not look good. So we changed the plans and left already that evening and would instead stop in Göteborg on the way home and get some climbing done there the next day. We left Nissedal with high spirits, feeling certain we would return, and started out on another long drive through the night. After many hours on the road we arrived in Göteborg very late in the night and got a couple of hours sleep on yet another parking lot.
The rain we had fled from did unfortunately also find its way to Göteborg so in the end we only got a couple of hours climbing before calling it a day. Swedish sausages and meshed potatoes were on the menu before driving the final stretch of road back to Copenhagen – tired but happy for the two good climbs we had done in Nissedal. Over all it had been a really great weekend and we did already look forward to be on the road again.
More photos from the trip on: http://hasemannphotos.com/nissedal-tripping/