Vågakallen is a prominent peak among a group of crags forming the heart of the rock climbing scene in Lofoten. It's south face begins almost at the waters edge, and the vertical cliffs skirting all approaches make the mountain seem higher and more daunting.
As an American seeing Vågakallen for the first time my reaction was to call it The Teton by the Sea.
The easiest route up Vågakallen is class four, but there are many other routes as well. One can choose sweeping ridges, big wall aid climbs, or simply fun cragging along the cliffs closer to the base.
The closest regional airport is Svolvæar. Svolvær is also a major ferry hub. The coastal steamer makes a stop here every day, and ferries from the mainland (Skutvik) run several times a day. Public bus can take you to Henningsvær, which is the logical choice for climbers to set up base.
By car from the South: The most scenic is take the ferry from Bodø to Å or Moskenes, which is at the extreme tip of the island chain. From there a 2 hour drive takes you to Henningsvær. The other choice is to drive along E6 until reaching route 81. Drive to Skutvik, and take the 2- hour ferry ride to Svolvær.
By car from the North: Turn off of E6 onto E10 just north of Narvik. Follow this road for about 3.5 hours to the ferry at Melbu. After the ferry it's less than an hour to Henningsvær.
No red tape yet. Bolted Belay anchors are usually OK, bolted sport routes are frowned upon. The local climbing clubs have a responsobility to maintain fixed anchors, and the climbing culture here is adventurous and quite anti-sport climbing. Check at the well equipped climbers cafe in Henningsvær before exploring new routes
When To Climb
Summer: In May and June the days are long, and sometimes stable high pressure systems linger over the region. Most approaches will have some snow involved. July and August most approaches are snow free, and the climbing continues into September until the early storms shut things down.
Winter: If you've followed Teton Gravity Research films, you've seen Vågakallen skied, but as they also admit in the film, the crew was there for two weeks in March, and only got in one good skiing day. Hmmm. The avalanche potential is ugly. Warm gulf stream water flows by the base of the mountain, while frigid arctic fronts drop the temperature dramatically, dumping lots of snow. This warm\cold mixing creates a special level of unstability that climbers from ranges such as the Alps and the Rockies need to take special note of. However, when conditions are good, the couliours offer great potential for steep snow and ice climbing. In just the last few years a group of Scottish climbers visited Lofoten, and as was to be expected, they established some new sick climbs. Only the months of November and December are virtually unclimbable because of the lack of snow\ice and the 24 hour darkness.
There are very few restrictions on camping. Many climbers simply find a nook between rocks along the side of the road and have a pleasant stay. The town of Henningsvær at the base of the mountain has some B & Bs, as well as some hostel style accomodations. The climbers cafe has more info on informal accomodation. Camping outside Henningsvær includes use of free running water, thanks to a clever soul who affixed a tap to the water line supplying all the fresh water to the town.
On the opposite side (west) of Vågakallen is a free camping area at Kalle. Climbers call this area Paradiset (paradise) because the camping and sea cliff climbing is so idyllic. There are also several pay camping areas on the peninsula of Ørsvågvær. The last option are the rorbu, or fishermans shanties. These small, usually red, cabins are easily spotted along the waters edge. They are used during the cod fishing season in March, but in summer they are clean, cozy, and available to rent.
- WINTER PHOTOS
A few outstanding shots from the summit of Vågakallen in winter taken by a local climbing guide and photographer.