few hours with… ice climbing

…small intro…

About once a year around my birthday I’m buying some kinda ticket to not very common activity. My last birthday was no exception and I bought a ticket for an ice climbing course for beginners in Norway. My previous experience in climbing — climbing stairs :). I had no experience of climbing — not in the gym and not outside on rocks. The idea about climbing was sitting in my wishlist since I saw a youtube video of some climbers spending night in a tent against cliff very high from the ground. I think it’s called cliff camping.

Image from the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvynyBcr2sc

I haven’t done that yet but it inspired me to go ice climb in Norway. It’s probably a little bit strange to start on the ice wall, not rock wall but there was one big reason — winter was just starting and I did not want to wait till summer, I was so excited that I was ready to climb as soon as possible.

…begining of journey…

My journey started with buying tickets from organization Skyhook Adventure (but you can find a lot of offers from organizations or individual ice climbing trainers). Climbing was located in Rjukan (about 2.5 h drive from capital Oslo). I choose this option because it’s quite cheap to fly to Oslo from my country and also the closest location from all other options. So I bought everything at the beginning of November and my climb was scheduled for mid-January. They gave me a list of things that are necessary to bring along. The trip is booked for three days — the first day arriving, unpacking, introductions and so on, the second day is full day climbing and the third day is half-day climbing and departure.

… first day…

My first day begins in my hometown which is a 3-hour bus drive till the airport. Next is about 1–1,5 h in the airport and after flight almost a 3-hour ride to Rjukan. One long day. Most of the beginner climbers rent a car in Oslo and drive to Rjukan. You can also take a bus but that’s probably not the best option. To find other climbers on your course there is a special Facebook group. There you can find someone who has free space in the car or you can rent a car and offer to take someone with you so you can split car rental costs. For me, this was not an easy part because I am a hardcore introvert. So I waited and hoped that someone will post in the Facebook group about a free place in a car. And I was lucky when it happened so I had some climbers who picked me up at Oslo airport and we drove to Rjukan.

First impressions in Oslo — it was raining and not a single spot of snow. It’s the middle of January, I’m in Oslo, next day is climbing day one and there is no cold, no snow. I was not very happy about that, no idea where we going to climb. We arrived in Rjukan in the evening, it was dark, but we found the hostel quite easy. So we went in and it’s quite a small house with lots and lots of people in it. So we found our instructor and he showed us around. It was quite an interesting place with an equipment room, drying room, sauna, bedrooms, and kitchen/ lounge room. The bedroom was a small challenge for me, as I mentioned before I am a hardcore introvert so sometimes it’s hard for me to start a conversation with people I don’t know. I knew that probably there will be some room sharing, what I didn’t know is that we are sleeping 11 people in one room in three-story beds. So let’s hope no one is snoring.

The first day ends with introductions and instructions from instructors. Because of bad weather conditions, one of our instructors will drive to climbing spots quite early so we can get some good spots to climb. And the first day ends.

…second day…

It’s early morning and everybody gets ready for the first climbing day. About half of night I was listening to snoring from the bed next to me, above me and across the room, but that did not affect me — I was ready to climb. Morning in the hostel is quite chaotic — there are around 30 people and 3 bathrooms, everybody is packing, dressing, cooking, and otherwise preparing for the climbing day.

After getting ready I went out for the first time when it’s starting to become lighter and… woow… what a view. A large mountain with a white snowy top, almost like a hat. So next we drove some 20 min to climbing spots. We arrived at the parking lot near climbing spots and then I was really happy — everything was white, for the first time this year I saw real winter. So next we started about 10–15 min walk to climbing spots. We reached the spot and it was something epic. I looked at this ice wall and it was hard to believe that I’m gonna climb that.

Next, we all put our gears on and instructions began. And then we started first climbs. It was awesome… There were like 5 tracks and we climbed in groups of 3 people — one climb, second is holding the climber (called belayer), and third is behind belayer and hold rope just in case something goes wrong. There was enough time to go through all tracks and if some power was left in arms do some tracks the second time. After climbing was over we went back to the hostel. After a long day of climbing the ice wall, I just took a small dinner and went to sleep. I was quite tired and slept like a rock. The second night I didn’t hear any snoring or sounds of people climbing in their beds.

…third day…

Same as the day before in the morning everybody was preparing for another climbing day. We went to the same climbing spot as the previous day but this time we went on different tracks.

So we had three options easy track, moderate and hard. My group started with moderate and it was quite a challenge. There is a climbing technique so your arms don’t lose strength so fast but for beginner climbers, it was hard to do it right for the first time so not everyone reached the top. Almost all people had some climbing experience from rock climbing so at first, I was worried that everybody will do some epic climbs and I will be at the bottom watching but actually I feel that I was doing quite ok. So no experience in climbing is no reason to not do ice climbing. Instructors were very skilled so there was no fear that something will go wrong. This was half-day climbing so quite a lot of new climbers were scheduling airplane tickets back home. So we went back to the hostel to get our stuff and we were on the way to Oslo airport.

…the end…

And so everything ended with few hours in the airport and a long way home. It was an incredible experience and if you get an opportunity just do it.

It’s about 6 months from the time I climbed and now when I’m writing it and remembering all details from the trip just makes me want to do more climbing. At this moment I have not made any reservations for climbing trips but from time to time I take a look at climbing for beginner offers and watching some videos about how to start the climb on rock walls, etc. As I mentioned before I am a hardcore introvert so this was a double challenge for me, but I’m very happy I did it.

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Writing a blog about learning and exploring new stuff just for fun.

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few hours with…

few hours with…

Writing a blog about learning and exploring new stuff just for fun.

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