The Romsdalshorn is one of Norway’s better known mountains – more because of its form than its height, I guess. ‘Nordveggen’ (North face) is the route that sees most climbers. This route is quite popular because it has much to offer: beautiful positions above the Romsdal valley, very nice climbing for the grade and a convenient abseil piste.
It should not be underestimated, however. Although Romsdalshorn is only 1535 meters high, its latitude and proximity to sea make the weather pretty unpredictable. Most belays are not bolted, so you should be comfortable placing gear, also to create belays. Popularity also introduces the problem of falling stones, coming from people above you either climbing or abseiling. The abseil piste is situated very close to the route.
On the other hand, the rock is sound in most places and the opportunities for protection are good. Even the more difficult pitches can be climbed in several ways and a mistake of a few meters right or left won’t get you into trouble, as long as you stick to the belays. it's a nice adventure and said to be a good introduction to climbing mountains in the Romsdal area.
Follow the toll road to Venjedalssetra. Pass the big lake and several parking spots until you reach a parking spot with information signs, just before the last two hairpins that mark the end of the road.
Pick up the track that begins here and heads roughly west in the direction of a col in the ridge to the right (north) of Romsdalshorn. The track, which is well trodden, first climbs to a small lake and a cabin under a boulder. Then it ascends a steep scree slope. After an emergency shelter the track ends at the edge of boulder field (large cairn). Scramble up through this, at first heading right and then up until you reach the col (large cairn). From here there you have a splendid view of Romsdal and Åndalsnes - if the weather is clear, of course.
(An alternative way to get here is by parking earlier on where the ridge is quite low. Follow the obvious path to a lower col. When you reach this, head left and climb the ridge by a cairned track. Less strenuous but longer)
From the col head left and climb the ridge in the direction of the north face. Follow sections of track and cairns and scramble up a steep section of the ridge, until you reach a place where the ridge flattens. From this, a good resting place, descend to the gap (‘gapet’) that seperates the ridge from the north face. Cross the gap directly, or, easier, slightly to the left and lower. Then follow a track that leads up to the beginning of the route. This is also the end of the abseil piste.
(unless stated otherwise, by left and right is meant: left and right when facing ‘in’, facing the summit) From the end of the track climb 2 or 3 pitches trending up and left, through easy terrain (2/3), until you reach a platform beneath a steep section. The next two pitches lead through this section and are the hardest. Some antiquated ironware (pegs and stakes) may be found here.
From the left of the platform climb a corner trending right and up until you reach a ledge with a double bolt anchor (4). This is also the fourth abseil belay. From this, climb left and up over steps and then around a corner. You are now below a steep wall. Climb this to the next belay, which is situated left of the bottom of a gully and has no bolts (4). From here there are several options to continue. One option is to scramble up the gully. Another one is to climb the rock pillar on the left, which I found offers good opportunities for protection (3). On top of the pillar is the next belay, with one bolt. From here, the original route heads up and right. First a big vain of white quartz (sharp!) is passed. Then a system of rock bands going up and right is climbed. Gain the highest of these and follow it to its right end, where, on a corner, there is a good spot for another bolt-less belay (3). The next pitch is a long scramble up and a little right through easy terrain until the summit cairns are reached (2). Beware the loose stuff on the last few meters of this pitch. It can be avoided on the right.
(Alternative from the top of the rock pillar: don’t make a belay as described before but continue to the big ledge above the top of the pillar. Here you’ll find a double bolt anchor which is the second abseil belay. Use this as your belay. Then climb the steep wall via its left edge until you reach the double bolt anchor of the first abseil belay. From here, follow the ledge to the right until a gully provides a way to scramble to the summit. Difficulty unknown)
In the vicinity of the summit cairns, scramble down a steep gully, back into the north face, to reach a ledge. Follow the ledge to the right (facing the valley) until you come to the double bolt anchor that is the first abseil belay. Take care on the first abseil pitch as you are now positioned above the middle part of the route. Pass a couple of overlaps until you reach a big ledge. A few meters to the right is the second abseil belay. From here, abseil through the gully until you come to its bottom. Right of this is the third abseil belay. From here, abseil straight down then go a little bit left until you reach a ledge where is the fourth abseil belay. This is the double bolt anchor that you’ve passed and used when going up. From here, abseil down trending right until you reach the fifth and last abseil belay, which is located on the right edge of the platform. The last abseil pitch takes you to the end of the track leading up from the gap (‘gapet’). From here, follow the same route down.
Literature: Klatring I Romsdal (Norwegian) and Climbs and Walks in Romsdal (English). The former has a good drawing of the route, the latter has a good textual description. Both descriptions are sound. Climbs and Walks in Romsdal is generally available, Klatring I Romsdal is out of print but in the summer of 2010 several copies were still for sale in the Libris of Åndalsnes and the camping at Mjelva.
A helmet is absolutely necessary!
Double ropes of at least 50 meters in order to use the abseil piste. I used double ropes of 60 meters and this route description has been based on that.
Protection gear. Enough to secure yourself on pitches of Norwegian difficulty 4- and create belays. Most belays have no bolts. I found I used Black Diamond Camalot .75 and 1 a lot, as well as middle size Wall Nuts.
Mountain boots. For the approach. Early or late in the season you may encounter snow.
When descending, a GPS may be helpful in finding the beginning of the track that starts at the edge of the boulder field below the col. Especially when darkness is falling or visibility is poor.
Parking – gapet: 1.5 hours. Gapet – Romsdalshorn: 2 hours. Romsdalshorn – Gapet: 1 hour. Gapet – parking: 1 hour. Total: 5.5 hours. Time without resting, for experienced mountaineers with a good physical condition.