The Svolvær Goat is one of the most popular climbing pinnacles in Norway. Who can resist the lure of climbing multipitch solid rough granite, then taking the leap from one horn of the goat to the other?
The Goat wasn't climbed until 1910 by Carl Rubenson, Alf B. Bryn, and Ferdinand Schjelderup. It was during the same climbing trip that they also were the first atop Trakta (the Funnel) and Stetind. Climb these summits today by their original routes, and you'll see how hot this trio was!
Svolværgeita has many routes, but all end at the Storhorn (big horn) with the following jump to the Lillehorn (little horn). The jump is 1.5 meters across, and about a meter down. It's the perfect climbing stunt, because it is just possible, but hard enough to give one pause.
The town of Svolvær is right in the middle of the Lofoten island chain in North Norway. E10 is the major highway to this island chain, and passes directly below Svolværgeita. There are several options for reaching Svolvær.
Plane: There are scheduled flights to Svolvær, but they are expensive. It may be cheaper to fly to Narvik, Tromsø, or Bodø, and take ferries and busses to Svolvær from these towns.
Train: Doesn't exist here. The closest train comes from Sweden to Narvik.
Automobile: From the South: Drive E6 past Narvik. After driving for about another 45 minutes, turn onto E10. Another four hours and you're in Svolvær. There is one ferry at Melbu, but a new road is being built, and should be completed in 2005.
Boat: There is a direct ferry to Svolvær from the mainland. For those traveling carless, this is the easiest and cheapest method. www.ovds.no gives timetables for the ferry. Look for the Skutvik Svolvær table. This is also a fast option for car drivers coming from the south.
The most interesting way to get to Svolvær is by coastal steamer. It isn't cheap, but it's "the most beautiful voyage in the world", or so the promoters claim. It departs daily from Bergen, with many stops on the way. See links for info.
Once in Svolvær, look for parking at the far corner of the church graveyard. The biggest most established path heads up on the left hand side if Svolværgeita as you are facing it. A less used path goes up the right hand side, and involves a touch of 3rd class, but is shorter.
A 3 cubic meter section of the lillehorn (littlehorn) fell off over the spring of 2008. The Alpine Rescue organization climbed the entire forsida in the beginning of May 2008 to check that there are not other loose blocks ready to fall off. I have not found any pictures of the conditions of the lillehorn now, but it is even smaller, and from the reports I have read, the chunk that fell off is from the inside and front corner. This means that the part of the block climbers use to land on when they make the jump is missing. Now the jump will be even more exciting.
When To Climb
The midnight sun months of June and July are best. The granite dries quickly, so it's possible from May until late September.
Part of this summary is from Ed Websters guidebook, the rest is from personal experience and observations.
1910 original route. 5.5. One of the most exciting 5.5 climbs possible. See route description.
Rappel Route. 5.7 Difficult moves in the beginning, then buckets to the ledge below the horns. 2 pitches. The shortest most direct climb of Svolværgeita.
Forsida (Front Side) 5.8 The longest route, climbing the entire pinnacle from almost it's lowest point. 5 pitches, over 150meters in length.
Angel Wings 5.10d
Spiral Route: 5.8 As is given in the name, this route begins on the protected shorter side, and diagonals out over the face giving an extra thrill. 3 pitches.
There are other routes of course, but I havn't experienced enough of them to qualify listing them here.
Where To Stay
A unique accomodation are the rorbu, or fishermans shanties. These small, usually red bunkhouses can be private or collective. Their original purpose was to house the huge influx of fishermen that arrive for the spring cod fishing. In the summer they are vacant, clean, and well worth the money.
There are also pay camping areas between Svolvær and Henningsvær.
There are a few free camping areas along the beach as well. The best is at Kalle, just past Kabelvag. There is great bouldering and single pitch climbing within a ten minute walk of the campground, and Svolværgeita is only a 15 minute drive away.
Rockfax Guidebook This guidebook came out in 2008, and there is a free on-line update that was published in 2010.
Coastal Steamer This trip falls between cruise ship and ferry, but is a great option for traveling if affordable.