Eidfjord is probably the best kept ice climbing secret in the world, considering the huge possibilities for doing first ascents, the number of climbed and unclimbed ice routes and relatively reliable conditions.
The last few years ice climbers from all over the world has visited. Eidfjord was for the longest time a hidden secret, and until recently only a handful of routes had been climbed in this Norwegian ice climbing mekka. Eidfjord is by many considered to be the best ice climbing area in the world, with what is probably the world’s largest concentration of big ice routes up to 500 meters long, tons of unclimbed routes and a stunning combination of fjord and mountains.
MÅBØDALEN is without doubt the most famous area for ice climbing in Eidfjord. At the top of this deep canyon you find the well known waterfall Vøringsfossen, one of the most impressive waterfalls in Europe. While Vøringsfossen is less interesting for ice climbing, the whole south face of the canyon has its share of high quality ice routes. 30+ world class lines between 250 and 350 meters long, with reasonably short approaches, is a dream come true for any ice climber, no matter where you come from.
Getting to Måbødalen is easy. From Eidfjord it is a 20 minutes drive on the main road towards Geilo. It is easy to spot some of the ice routes from the road, at the lower parts of Måbødalen. It is possible to park at the bottom of the canyon, to climb the nearby routes, but rappelling down further up the canyon, gives you access to more routes. To rappel off, park at the souvenir shop close to the Fossli Hotel and rig the rappel about 20 north of the shop building. Plan your rappel carefully, and make sure you have ice for V-threads all the way to the bottom of the canyon.
Måbødalen is the only area in Eidfjord where the majority of the lines have been climbed. However, there are no guide book and only a few blogs and magazine articles has info about who has climbed what, grades etc.
In HJØLMODALEN you find some of the most majestic and impressive ice routes in Eidfjord. The ice in Hjølmodalen are not as easy to get to as in Måbødalen and it’s not possible to drive more than a few kilometers into this deep valley. If snow conditions are rough you need a 4-wd or a snow mobile to get as far as the road goes. Some routes, such as the impressive Vedalsfossen, you can see from the road, but getting to the routes further in the valley you need to hike for hours, so alpine start is recommended.
Very few routes in Hjølmodalen have been climbed and there is a huge potential for doing first ascents here, especially since you can only see part of this valley from the road. Hjølmodalen is a broad and deep valley with high mountains surrounding it. Avalanche hazard can be significant so check conditions carefully before you start climbing. Most of the routes end up above tree level in very remote areas and often there’s not cellphone reception available. Needless to say, there isn’t a lot of people here, so climbing here requires experience and a low level for making errors. The three routes located above the town Hjølmo, and the first ones you see on your right hand side when you take off the main road, are the potential classics in this area, with slightly shorter approaches and trees to rappel from on the side.
Hjølmodalen is located about 10 minutes drive from center of Eidfjord, towards Geilo. Take off the main road where you see the sign saying “Hjølmo” and follow the road up the valley. Note that this road is not cleared from snow and/or ice during winter, so be prepared. This road follows the valley for a few kilometers to an old farm, where it’s wise to park and start hiking. Continuing driving is risky business and won’t get you further in the valley, just higher up the mountains.
SIMADAL is home to one of the world’s most impressive ice routes, Skykkjedalsfossen, FA’ed by Will Gadd, Christian Pondella and Andreas Spak in February 2010. If 400+ meters of more or less vertical climbing from bottom up sounds interesting, you are going to love Skykkjedalsfossen.
To get to Simadal, follow road 103 through Blurnes and drive to the end of the fjord (Simadalsfjorden). Park your car at the beginning of a ski track (don’t keep driving and mess up the ski tracks) and follow the road on foot. When you come to the end of the road, about 20 minutes hike from the car, you can see Skykkjedalsfossen on your right hand side. Further in the valley there are several, unclimbed lines, which looks like they are 250 – 400 meters long. There are no roads going further up the valley, so prepare for a good hike in.
As far as we know, only Skykkjedalsfossen and the line inside the gully west of it (FA in 2010 by Seth Hobby, Caroline George and Chad Peele), has been climbed in Simadal. Despite its remote location, there is great potential for doing long ice routes in this valley.
The season for ice climbing in Eidfjord is shorter than places such as Rjukan, because of its location close to the sea. However, even at sea level, conditions are often very reliable between late December and mid March. Some of the best areas are located as high as between 700 and 1200 meter asl, where temperatures stay cold throughout the Norwegian winter season.
There is an unknown number of ice routes in Eidfjord and the surrounding areas. A handful of the most obvious and impressive ones are climbed, but there is a huge potential for doing first ascents. Don’t expect climbing in Eidfjord to be anything like climbing in Rjukan or Hemsedal. Most routes in Eidfjord are more than 200 meters high, often with several steep pitches (when we say steep we mean it). Approaches are long and driving around on the small mountain roads can be exciting. ALWAYS expect to rappel off from V-threads.
Måbødalen, a deep canyon with 30 or more routes between 200 and 350 meters long, is the most explored climbing area in Eidfjord. This is where climbers like Guy Lacelle, Will Gadd and Andreas Spak reported their first climbs and there is some info available about these routes.
Måbødalen is a great place to start if you are visiting Eidfjord for the first time. The deep valley has ha high concentration of ice and it’s easy to locate the routes, even from the road.
Between late December and mid March, conditions are often reliable, but nothing like areas further inland. Close to the fjord, the fluctuations of temperature can be huge within a short period of time (days and even hours). While this can be frustrating, it’s a key factor in areas like Eidfjord where there are little snow, because it helps building ice. At sea level there is often very little snow, but expect much more if you climb routes located higher up in the mountains.
For climbing in Eidfjord we recommend, in addition to the regular climbing equipment:
70 or 80 meter single rope
60 meter tag line for rappel
12 – 14 good ice screws (Petzl or Black Diamond)
A few slings (120 cm and 60 cm)
Auto-locking belay device (such as Petzl Reverso)
Tool for making V-Threads
Spare ice tool picks
A few Petzl Tibloc
Several pairs of climbing gloves (your hands will get wet)
Emergency kit including:
Basic medical kit
Chocolate bars etc.
Articles in different newspapers & magazines