|THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS
The Lofoten Islands
are said to be one of the most beautiful climbing areas on earth.
Although the mountains there are not very high, and the highest peak, Higraftindan, reaches only 1161 meters, the fact that they rise straight from the sea makes them spectacular and extraordinary. The Lofoten is an archipelago of five big and five small islands in the northern Norway. The extraordinary climate of the islands is caused by the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. It also dries the rock very quickly after heavy rain. Also during all June and July, you experience there 24 hours of daylight (Midnight Sun).
The heavily glaciated and granite rocks of the Lofoten
offer lots of possibilities for rock climbing and mountaineering all
over the year. However, one must remember, that the Islands do not have
the signed trails at all. The Norwegians prefer to experience the
nature individually, therefore each hike has to be carefully prepared and the tourist has to be equipped with map and compass.
It is considered that climbing on the Lofoten started in 1889, when two local fishermen made the first ascent of Vågakallen (942m). The next important step was reaching the summit of the two pronged tower above Svolvær, called The Svolvær Goat in 1910, by three climbers from Oslo.
In the first half of the twentieth century there were mostly Norwegians
and British climbers visiting the islands. The ´60 are a decade of Arild Meyer and the Nesheim brothers from Tromsø.
The Norwegians stand for natural climbing. That is why most of the routes are all-nut protected. Climbers visiting the Lofoten
are encouraged to leave their electric drills and bolts at home. Bring
a set of wired Rocks or Stoppers, several Hexentrics plus a good
selection of Friends up to #3, although #4 Friends may also be helpful
on some routes. Small wired nuts (brass, steel, or RP nuts) are also
useful. As for the ropes, 50 meter-long ones are a must, as most of the
pitch lengths and a majority of the fixed rappel stations are 50 meters
The Lofoten´s labels are the Svolvær Goat (Svolværgeita).
However the big minus of the first rock is a long way to get there and
not very interesting climbing. What attracts the climbers most is an
extraordinary top, a two pronged tower with 50 meter long precipice in
between. Contrary to the Svolvaer Goat, getting to The Priest takes only about 10 minutes, starting from the road. Another highly recommended place is Gandalfveggen on Lofoten´s Austvågøy.
The routes are quite short there (from 80 to 100 meters), but with some
very nice views and the rocks are located nearby the road. The classic
here is the Gandalf, a varied four pitch route up the right side of the wall.
Near the village Kalle there are great rocks coming directly from the sea. The guide calls that place Paradiset. This place is also a beginning of a fjord where the most classical route, the Storpillaren or The Bonatti Pillar of Lofoten, is located.
The Lofoten are not famous for a very nice weather. However in the summer months of June, July and August
the weather usually is stable and it is the best time for climbing.
Still, you have to keep in mind, that even the most beautiful summer
conditions can be replaced by heavy storm accompanied with low
temperatures within a relatively short period of time. Adding the
extremely useful feature of having a sunlight 24 hours per day, you can start climbing whenever you want.
from free climbing, the Lofoten Islands offer a wide variety of ice
climbing spots in winter and many attractive places for all year round
WHERE TO STAY
is one of the few countries that have preserved the ancient law of free
public access to all of their lands. Therefore you are allowed to camp
in any place as long as it is not in sight of a private home and
providing that you don´t make any damages on the fields or crops by
walking through them. Of course camping is not accepted in all places
where it is directly stated that camping is forbidden. For other
accommodation the easiest way is to ask in the nearest tourist centre.
Other very common, and relatively cheap possibility is staying in one
of the old fishermen´s huts, called Rorbu, which are very numerous on the islands and offer a decent standard of lodging.