“Deep, placid fjords, jagged rocky peaks, a historic and geologic masterpiece” - National Geographic, September 2007
These are the best words to define Lofoten I’d ever heard!
Lofoten archipelago, including five big and five smaller islands, lies off Norway's Northern coast, West to Narvik and about 200 km North to the Polar Arctic Circle. These breathtaking islands offer a wide choice of granite rock-climbing as well as both winter mountaineering and summer scrambling.
Surely Lofoten are one of most charming climbing area in the world: climbing on these cliffs gives exciting sensations and unspeakable views over a unique landscape. Notwithstanding their moderate altitude – the highest mountain, Higrattinden, is only 1116 mt. high - these peaks are truly extraordinary.
Presten (The Priest) is a majestic granite bulk - surely one of the well-known cliffs on Lofoten - situated close to Henningsvær, a charming village nicknamed “Lofoten’s Venice” and located in the South-Western end of Austvågøy, Lofoten’s largest island (Vågan Municipality). Presten unmistakable outline overlooks with its famous granite “Nose” the coastal road running to Henningsvær, showing unforgettable views when seen from here. Its face has a great number of routes, but the classic one and the original is Vestpillaren (West Pillar).
GETTING TO LOFOTEN
There are various possibilities:
- By ferry boat from Bodø to Moskenes, Værøy or Røst (South of Lofoten)
- By ferry boat from Skutvik to Svolvær or Skrova (North of Lofoten)
- By plane from Bodø
- By car from Narvik via Evenes to Svolvær
GETTING TO PRESTEN
It's possible to get to the cliff directly from Svolvær, Lofoten major center, in about 20 km along E10 and also from Kabelvåg, in about 15 km. along E10, turning to left to Henningsvær(Route 816) at E10 and Route 816 forking. Otherwise the shortest way to approach the cliff is from Henningsvær (less then 5 km.), or from Lyngvær (less then 5 km), a good place along E10, about 20 km. west to Svolvær.
HistoryClimbing in Lofoten started in 1889, when two local fishermen realized Vagakallen’s first ascent.
At the beginning of last century some British alpinists, and mainly William Slingsby, started to climb in the islands. On 1910 a Norwegian party (C.W. Rubenson, A.B. Bryn, F.Schjeldrup ) climb Svolvær Geita (Svolvær Goat) – a peak overlooking Svolvær - in first ascent. Successively, mainly Norwegian and British parties visited Lofoten. On the Sixties, the Nesheim brothers from Tromso and the local Arild Meyer climbed some hard routes in first ascent, like Vestpillaren on Presten and Great Pillar on Vagakallen, while H.C. Doseth realized Vestpillaren first free climbing. In last years mainly Norwegian and USA climbers, Ed Webster between them, realized several big walls’ first ascents.
Presten climbing routes from left hand to right hand (Norwegian Scale):
"Himmel og Helvete"(Heaven and Hell) 7, 560 mt.
"To krigere" (Two Warriors) 7, A3
"Korstoget" (The Crusade) 7, 385 mt.
"Ypperstepresten" 6, 160 mt
"Biskopen" 6-, A0 220 mt
"The Codfather" 7, 465 mt.
"Sondagskole turen" (Sunday School Outing) 7, 170 mt
"Reisen" (The journey) 7+, 440 mt.
Vestpillaren Direct Start (The West Pillar) 6, 470 mt.
"Vestpillaren Original Start" 5+, 420 mt
"Himmelen kan vente" (Heaven Can Wait) 6+, 310 mt.
"Klokkeren" (The Bell Ringer) 7-, 450 mt.
Starting from Festvag, on the coastal road close to Henningsvær, a good trail rises to the beautiful small lake named Heiavatnet, the ancient Henningsvær water reservoir. From the lake an easy scramble leads to the summit of Festvagtinden mt. 541, a peak close to Presten (2 hours and a half from Festvag).
Red TapeNo particular restrictions in climbing and hiking
When to climb
Lofoten are famous for their weather conditions, which sometimes can be a bit "a lottery", though sometimes “High Scandinavian” and “Gulf Stream’s” warming effects can give you blu sky and sunshine. However best months for climbing are late May, June, July and August.
Where to stayCamping - In Norway camping is allowed in every place, if not expressly forbidden. Best free campsites in this area are located in Festing, in front of the Gandalf cliff, and Paradiset, just close to Henningsvaer.
The nearest equipped campsite is the Lyngvaer Bobilcamping (campers, tents and cabins), 20 km. West to Svolvær and strictly close to the E10 - R816 road forking, a few kilometers from Presten.
Another campsite is “Sandvika”, between Svolvær and Henningsvær, and the nearby Orsvagvær.
ClimateOn Lofoten the weather can change suddenly from clear and blu sky with sunshine or the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) to violent storms with rain or snow. Maximum temperatures go from +30°C in June and July to -15°C in January and February; the average temperatures for these months are from +12°C to -3°C. The period with the minimum rainfall goes from April to June, while we may expect the maximum rainfall or snowfall between October and December.
Midnight sun: from 27 May to 17 July
Polar night: from 6 December to 6 January
The Northern Lights can be seen over Lofoten from September to April.
Useful info about climate: Meteorologisk Institutt
External LinksClimbing info: Rockfax Lofoten Guidebook
Tourist info: Lofoten Islands
"Walks and scrambles in Norway" by Anthony Dyer, Ian H. Robertson and John Baddeley