Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mr Rogaland

Bouldering areas come into existence due to the hard work of a motivated few.  While most climbers don't seem to notice rock until it is clearly listed in a guidebook, covered in chalk or featured in a video, those with a penchant for development are always on the lookout and spend lots of time hiking, scouting and brushing.  Fortunately for us Rogaland has a few of these motivated climbers that are spending countless days giving the masses something to climb on.  

The local crew in Rogaland is pretty small and while there is a group that develops the driving force behind much of what has been done in the last few years is Tore Årthun.  Tore is responsible for some of Rogaland's best problems and he is one of the few climbers I know whose motivation to develop might rival my own.  He's got a backlog of projects and we had the pleasure of being shown a couple.  I could only imagine the trouble we'd get into if we lived in the same place.

It is worth saying that Tore is well aware of what he has in his backyard and while he enjoys showing folks around he is apprehensive to make Rogaland the next hot-spot.  Not having a guidebook to the region is a conscience decision and an attempt to keep Rogaland low-key and adventurous.  I've actually debated about spraying my love for Rogaland as I don't want to contribute to "ruining" the region and I'd like to reiterate the importance to being respectful and informed when visiting climbing areas, regardless of where they are.  And if you go to Rogaland and act like a jackass Tore will find you and crush you with his bare hands (Norwegians are descended from Viking after all)

That said, here are some pictures honoring Mr Rogaland (how do you like your new nickname Tore?  you're welcome).

Mr Rogaland working on his tan between burns on his project

This prow was one of the projects Tore took us to.  After brushing it up we did the stand and Tore would return later to do the sit.

The early moves of the prow.  Great moves.  Awesome stone.

Tore on another one of his projects.  This one is pretty mega and I heard it just went down, giving Rogaland another amazing test piece.

Kalle on Home Liber, one of Tore's many FAs.

Tore showing the beta on his En midtsommernatts drøm.

I thought I should also mention another individual whose name is bound to come up when perusing established problems in Rogaland.  If you look at a list of the hardest problems in Rogaland you'll quickly notice that two people  make up for about 80% of the first ascents, one is Tore Årthun and the other is Jarle Risa.  On my last trip to Rogaland I finally had the pleasure of meeting Jarle when he flash-first ascented the project we brushed up.  Before he was a bit of an enigma but I think legend might me the more apt adjective now that I've met him.  

Jarle.  The man, the myth, the legend.
This was the only picture I managed to snap whilst he was raping and pillaging our project.  Must be the Viking blood,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting Our Brush On in Norway

When visiting establish areas I like to thoroughly explore before I decide what to climb on and if you've ever been out with me you know I can disappear for hours in my attempt to see everything.  In all my running around I quite often find some undone lines that catch my attention and sometimes they are so good they "need" to be climbed.  In Rogaland I was pretty much guaranteed to find something good as even the popular areas have an abundance of untouched rock.  For some it might seem strange to visit an area and spend half your time bushing new problems but it's normal for me.  When I stand under a striking line I want to do it regardless of where I am or if it's brushed.

In general the problems I choose to brush are not rejects of low quality but good (and sometimes stunning) lines that haven't been seen or were overlooked for one reason or another.  In Rogaland there is no reason to climb on shitty problems as there is so much rock you can just wander around finding gems.  I could easily take a trip to Rogaland and not climb on a single established problem as world-class boulders are everywhere just waiting for someone to clean them up (and don't worry,  there are plenty of world class problems already done).  Maybe it's just my way of helping out the locals as they will need an army of developers to scratch the surface.

Here are pictures of just a couple things we brushed in Rogaland.

The first area we visited didn't have any established problems.  We stopped just to check it out and quickly realized we could spend days at this one place.  The best problems where stunning highballs that we didn't have the time to brush and we settled for a couple more reasonable problems.  Here Pyssel contemplates an awesome rail problem (bad lighting in the photo).  The last move crux was too much for us and it still waits for an ascent.  One of the highball aretes we wished we had time for is in the background.

This prow is also in the fist area and the best problem we managed to do.  The rock in this area does require a bit of brushing but it cleans up nice.  

 Pyssel climbing the right arete of the prow.  There is another obvious start under the roof to the left that Pyssel got painfully close to doing.  We will have to go back for that one.

Pyssel trying one of Tore's projects at Lilandsdalen.  

I cleaned up this line at Lilandsdalen but the landing needed a little work before I could commit.  Would love to go back to this one.

Tore took up to this amazing looking boulder and while the lines are worthy it wasn't as good as Tore remembered.  We tried the left a arete but in the end opted to save our skin.  Anywhere else we'd be chomping at the bit to climb on this boulder but in Rogaland it is nothing special.

Pyssel fondling the grips of another new problem. 

This impressive prow got 3 ascents the day we brushed it up and Tore would later return to add the obvious sitstart.

One of the best lines we saw in Rogaland was a project in Hunnedalen that a visiting Swed had brushed up in the Spring.  We worked the moves on rope and in the end Tumle was the only one to get up this technical masterpiece.  This problem should be on your list when visiting Rogaland.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rogaland: A Bouldering Mecca

I realize when using the superlative to describe a climbing area it is going to elicit some opinions to the contrary.  That said, Rogaland might be a candidate for the best bouldering area in the world.  I've been to many of the world's most renowned bouldering locations (Rocklands being the most glaring exception) and Rogaland holds it's own or surpasses the other heavy hitters.  Yes, it is just my opinion and I tend to prefer granite over other rock types but I consider myself to be discerning and well informed.  It is indeed subjective but even if Rogaland isn't number 1 on your list there is no denying it as a world-class destination.

Here's a couple things to consider regarding Rogaland......

Quantity:  Having an endless supply of rock is perhaps the easiest of Rogaland's qualities to point out.  There is so much rock that it is almost a bad thing (if that is possible) as you become desensitized to house-sized blocks as you drive past hundreds if not thousands of them.  Needless to say the potential is staggering.

Quality:  Fortunately all that rock is not wasted as the choss factor is low and the vast majority of rock is high quality granite.  As tends to be the case with granite some areas can be "sharp" but others have the feel of sandstone.  The rock is extremely climbable and makes for amazing lines (why I love granite) and steep climbing without being overly featured.

Setting:  Rogaland's breathtakingly beauty is the reason tourists flock from around the world and since the entire region is chalk full of boulders you can look forward to climbing in some of the most amazing settings ever.

Access:  Many areas are roadside or with short approaches and Norway has a solid infrastructure of roads spider-webbing through the rugged landscape.  Finding and developing new areas is pretty much effortless.  There are currently few access problems but some areas are more sensitive than others.  While Norway's "every man's right" guarantees a degree of access to all land users it is important to remember that many boulders are on private property and climbers should be respectful.  It only takes a couple douchebags to ruin it for everyone.

And now for the bad news.....

Expensive:  Norway is not cheap.  In fact, it is the most expensive country in the world.  A dirtbag can still get by with selective grocery shopping and camping (there is no shortage of beautiful places to camp) but if you are looking to eat out or have a roof over your head you best bring a fat wallet.

Weather:  Rogaland is not known for it's dry climate.  If you want the "sick temps bro" that come in the spring and fall it will be a gamble to book a trip as it could get rained out. The summers are drier and the long days provide more than enough time to climb but certain areas can be a bit buggy.

More specific info on Rogaland coming in the near future.  In the meantime here are a couple pictures

Kalle on the amazing Little Joy.  A roadside boulder with a 3-star problem

Another roadside gem, Sorgfri.

Kalle sampling the perfect stone of Tirpitz.

A random photo taken from the car.  It pretty much looks like this everywhere, except there are often more boulders.

It takes less than 10 minutes to hike to those boulders but in Rogaland that is considered a small boulder field and a long approach.