New routes in Northern Norway. Summer 2023

Collection of topos of our new summer routes in Northern Norway in 2023.

Reka (607m), Langøya, Vesterålen.

We established three new routes on the SE face of Reka (607m) this summer. Iconic mountain had previously only one summer route on it`s SE face from 2013 by Magnus Eriksson and Jonas Jakobsen, called Labyrinth. Climbing on the face is steeper and more hold rich than normally in the area and due to that I got hooked and returned to it four times during the summer.

Picture by: Paal Uglefisk Lund.

Routes on from left to right:

Labyrinth, 200m (7). FA Magnus Eriksson and Jonas Jakobsen, 2013.

  • Starts from a wide crack on the left hand side of the pillar. First ascent team did pendulums on the last part of the route but in 2023 Juho free climbed that section as Minotauros joins to the same line on the last pitch. Actual grades of the lower pitches are unknown but the last pitch is probably the crux and goes now at 7. Route was climbed ground-up.

Minotauros, 200m (7). FA Juho Knuuttila and Sara Skoglund, 2023.

  • Line joins Labyrinth on the last pitch. Has potential to become a classic of the face. Take a large rack up to camalot number 4. Route was climbed ground-up and on-sight.

P1: 7-, 40m.
Climb up a chimney behind a leaning rock tower. Climb top of the tower and do a wild move to a crack on the left. Climb up this crack to a scoop.
P2: 7-, 40m.
Continue up cracks to a small roof. Pass that from the right. Continue to another roof and pass that also from the right by following big grey holds 7m the right. Then head back left to do a hanging belay.
P3: 6, 25m.
Head straight up a fist crack. Then go up a left trending ramp. Step up right to a small ledge. Belay from there.
P4: 7-, 40m.
Follow left trending cracks for 40m to the base of a large yellow wall. There is a ledge base of a mini dihedral to belay from. Hard to make a belay.
P5: 7, 60m.
Climb 7m on crimps up left. Bold at the start. Then traverse right on grey rock. Then head straight up until you can traverse left again to a ledge. Head straight up following flakes and cracks. This pitch can be splitted to two.

Iliad, 200m (7). FA Juho Knuuttila and Joda Dolmans, 2023.

  • Adventurous route which has a bit more flakey rock than other lines. Take a large rack up to camalot number 5. Route was climbed ground-up and on-sight.
    P1: 6-, 35m.
    Climb up a chimney/wide crack. Continue past booming flakes to a hanging belay.
    P2: 7, 40m.
    Follow crack until it ends. Then long reach to a crack on the right. Put pieces in and do a downclimb/traverse to a another crack system further right. Continue up that for 30m to a sloping ledge.
    P3: 6+, 25m.
    Straight up a right facing corner into a left facing dihedral with some flakes. Belay from a good ledge top of a tower.
    P4: 6+, 35m.
    Step left and follow steep cracks to an area of grey rock. Continue up on grey rock (bold) towards a small roof. Belay top of that or step to the right to belay in a corner.
    P5: 7, 35m
    Head towards a left facing corner on face holds. Climb steep corner up to a fridge block. Then traverse left under a roof to get to a nice crack. Climb up that to a base of another roof. Pass that from the right. Belay top of this roof.
    P6: 6+, 40m
    Head straight up. Then few meters left before continuing straight up. Top out and belay from a huge rock.

Rødpillaren, 225m (A2 or 8-). FA Juho Knuuttila, Lassi Meronen and Orlando Addis.

  • Testpiece of the face. The most sustained climbing on the steepest part of the pillar. Still waiting a continuous free ascent as crux pitch was only followed free. Take a large rack up to camalot number 4. Lots of triple sizes and small gear too. Route was climbed ground-up but required too attempts.

P1: 6-, 15m.
Climb up a corner to a nice ledge.
P2: 7, 30m.
‘The Vein pitch’. Head straight up using double cracks until you reach a grey vein leading up right. Follow the vein with some hard moves to a hanging belay.
P3: 7, 30m
Straight up, following a shallow crack (bold). Reach right to get to a nice crack in a corner. Continue straight up until cracks run out. Do few delicate moves left to gain a sloping ledge.
P4: 7, 30m.
‘The down climb’. First up an easy corner. Then step right to climb shallow cracks to a sloping ledge. Then do a tricky downclimb/traverse to the right.
P5: A2 or 8-, 45m.
‘The mega pitch of Reka’. Climb to the base of a small roof. Pass that from the left. Continue up a crack until it ends. Then traverse left on cracks to gain a flake. Do another powerfull traverse to the left to gain a thin crack in a left facing corner. Follow that up to a grey rock. Belay from a good ledge top of the grey colored rock. (Small gear for the belay).
P6: 7-, 25m.
‘Lassi’s pitch’. Step right from the ledge and climb up to small roofs (bold). Climb over them trending right. Hanging belay.
P7: 7, 30m.
‘The finger crack’. Head left following cracks and big holds until you reach a steep thin hands/finger crack. Climb that straight up to a sloping ledge.
P8: 6+, 40m.
Follow weakneses straight up to the top.

Approach: Parking as for the normal route. You follow the normal path until the first big swamp. After that continue following the shore of the fjord until you can hike up a valley on the northeast side of the mountain (2h) To get to the base of the wall you need to traverse big grass ledge system from left to right (1h, grade 2).

Descent: Continue easily to the summit of Reka (20min) and rappel down the normal route.

Lappviktinden, Peak 1338m, Skjomen.

Lappblad, 600m (6). FA Juho Knuuttila, 2023.

In August 2023 I free/rope soloed a new line on the NE face of Peak 1338m. It probably shares first two pitches with Krister Jonssons Cafe Solo, but then heads left when Kristers line goes right. Fredrik Aspö had attempted the same line few years earlier but bailed 3/4 up the wall.

Really nice slabby climbing. Some splitter cracks and exposed climbing on the edge in the last part of the route. Highly recommended. Take a rack up to camalot number 5.

Ytre Sætertinden, Bjærangen, Meløy.

I dronningens skygge, 300m (7). FA Juho Knuuttila and Joda Dolmans, 2023.

Topo will come up later but our line follows the obvious corner in the middle and then trends right to a splitter crack high up right on the face. Pitches are 7, 6, 7-, 6+, 5+, 4+, 7 and 7-. Route was climbed ground-up and on-sight.

Manitua – Grandes Jorasses

Two of the biggest, hard summer alpine routes in the Mont Blanc massif that feed my dreams are Divine Providence on Pilier d´Angle and Manitua on the north face of Grandes Jorasses. Of course you have harder rock climbs, longer ridges and link-ups, but for me, those two are the main reasons coming back to the massif in summer. Probably I will return again and again for granite cracks, but dangerous game of summer alpinism could be put in hold after climbing those two.

Line of Manitua with our bivouacs marked.

After soloing Peuterey Integral in late July focus was more in low stress rock climbing rather than in big alpine, but as always, hunger grows and you start to be more restless. Divine Providence was out of the game in late August, but for Manitua conditions could be actually be quite good.

Several day weather window was approaching and it would begin with a quite cold and cloudy day. A perfect opportunity to climb exposed lower part of Manitua without getting too scared with rockfall. Luckily Sami Modenius was ready for a big climb! Also my Chamonix flatmate Samuli Pekkanen got super stoked about the route and asked if he could join us. With his big wall experience our team would be stronger as nature of the climb kinda forces you to haul and aid some pitches. Except if you are climbing 7c free, on big and scary alpine face and doing it quickly which most of the people won´t.

Approaching the black looking wall. Picture by Samuli Pekkanen.

In summer 1991, a legendary Slovenian alpinist Slavko Sveticic managed to find a line of weakness through the blankest part of the N face of Grandes Jorasses. He climbed for three days in a shadow, establishing a route called Manitua, named after his friend, whom died on the same face a year earlier.

With Walker Spur, Manitua is the only route that gets ascents regularly in summer. There are few others rock routes like Le Nez, but they are off the radar. Jorasses is after all the arena for biggest mixed lines in the massif.

Manitua had a period when it got just winter aid ascents but since summer 2015, when Korra Pesce and Tomas Muller did the first one day ascent, it has turned to be more popular in summer. Dry summers and bad mixed climbing conditions have forced keen Jorasses climbers mainly to Walker and Manitua, other routes being out of condition most of the time.

Low angled snow at the start.

As a team of three we headed from the first Montenvers train of the day towards base of the Jorasses on Monday. Walk in was fastest I have done, as glacier was mostly free of snow. Big streams were running high up on the glacier showing the rude effects of climate change. We took the rope out for the last hour for the crevassed part before launching to the face around 13:30.

First 400m to the base of the shield were horrible loose show of choss. We had to climb carefully and ended up pitching almost the whole lower part. Simul climbing would have been too dangerous at times, but due to cold and cloudy day the whole face was death silent, which was perfect for us. No rockfall!

Ambiance! Loose traverse under the shield. Can you spot Samppa?

Climbing itself was very easy. Last pitch of the day was one move 5c which is a variation to avoid 6c death slab. Variation makes also much more sense and doesn´t feel forced like the original start.

I don´t know why topo doesn´t mention mega ledges top of the first pitch of the shield, but those might be the best place to spend a night on the whole face. We were able to fully lay down and relax while moving clouds gave some extra ambiance.

Best bivy on the face?

After midnight we were able to see line of headlamps on the glacier heading for Walker Spur. How much better it would be to start climbing straight from the bivy and avoid tiring approach at night? Much better!

Sami took the first lead block in the morning when sun hit the shield. We had an hour of sunlight before shadows of the N face were upon us again. Sami led three 6b pitches in a big corner with some verglass or shorth wet sections at times. Nothing too bad for a big alpine face though.

Sami heading up on the first pitch of the day.

Samppa following.

Sami leading in a big corner system.

Leader climbed without a pack, he would haul most the gear with a tag line and seconds climbed with quite light packs. This system would continue top of the shield.

I took the second lead block for few overhanging 6c/+ pitches that in my opinion had the best free climbing on the route. Amazing big holds on a wildly steep terrain. I also did the ramp to the start of the last part of the shield where Samppa started his block.

Juho leading some steep terrain. Picture by Samuli Pekkanen.

Steep hauling. Picture by Samuli Pekkanen.

Some 6b climbing led to a bold 7a pitch which was climbed with pulling pitons and cams. It was already quite cold and free climbing wasn’t the first priority. I had climbed everything free until that point but that 7a looked quite uninviting with micro crimps.

Again some easier stuff before we were under the crux of the route. It was also the last pitch of the shield. An overhanging wall guarding exit to easier terrain. Ground under out feet dropped 400 meters straight down and base jump would have been more than possible.

Juho following.

Samppa leading higher on the face.

We had two options. To do original A3 exit pitch of Manitua or climb the last 7c pitch of Le Nez which is more often done nowdays. Samppa went for the latter and had a proper battle up it with mixture of free and aid climbing. Luckily we had some peckers and pitons with us. It should have been 6c/A1 but even moves to first in-situ pitons were tricky, risking a painful fall to a sharp edge.

An impressive lead which made first on-sight go of the pitch by Symon Welfringer few weeks earlier to look quite an achievement.

Samppa dealing with the crux. Picture by Sami Modenius.

We still had daylight left but wind had picked up and we were risking a very windy night on the summit if we would continue. We wanted to go down from Pointe Walker to avoid loose rappels from Pointe Croz. That would mean climbing few hundred meters of a ridge in a dark in strong winds, so best option was just to find a bivy and take it as a training for bigger mountains.

We found a small cave left from a top anchor of Le Nez and dug it deeper and better for two people. Samppa was able to sleep on a ledge ten meters higher while I and Sami played cavemen. The bivy was quite good and protected from a wind, though changing position at night was hard.

Second bivy in a cave.

On the next morning we started following the original line of Manitua through some loose mixed terrain until we joined the Croz Spur at the notch. I had done the last part in spring 2019 with Etienne during our ascent of the Croz Spur, so I knew the last three pitches quite well. That time pitches felt really annoying and slow with snow, but now they were climbed quite fast with big boots and bare hands. Temperature was close the same though as wind raged strong around us. Situation was wild, the N face dropping 1000m to the glacier under our feet, conditions were alpine say the least and climbing interesting. I was happy to pull the last moves to the ridge out of the shadows, to the warmth and calmness of Italy.

Sami leading mixed terrain on day three. Picture by Samuli Pekkanen.

Ropes singing in the wind. Picture by Samuli Pekkanen.

It´s a relieving moment to top out but at the same time intensity of the N face disappears. Of course you still have a long and chaotic descent to Planpincieux ahead, but once again you managed to escape the dark and lived some of the most powerful days of your life.

Jorasses knows we will be back. We will always return with hunger of something harder. In search of a journey back to the light.

We summited Pointe Walker and had a quite uneventful descent down to Val Ferret. It´s long and very alpine but you lose altitude so quickly, that in six hours you are back in the green forests of the valley.

Summit! Picture by Samuli Pekkanen.

Manitua was my fourth route on the face, Sami`s third and Samppa`s first. I certainly hope that some time in the future face turns white again and allows us to follow it`s thin ice smears. Until that time, the Jorasses fever has decreased, if it ever fully does. There´s no wall like it in the World!





Fossilfossen in Fossildalen, Svalbard.

October was supposed to be a working month in Finland but after all I flew to Longyearbyen to see my girlfriend who is studying to become a Arctic Nature Guide. Of course I took my ice climbing gear with me as winter was sneaking in early this year in the north. Temperatures sawed above and below freezing which promised good conditions for ice climbing. However the main thing was to live with Ella and help with a household.

In late September ANG students did their classic hike to Barentsburg and back. On that hike Ella spotted an icefall in Fossildalen which looked quite technical and steep in the pictures. Respectable finding as she had not climbed any ice earlier. At least it took me a while to see if something is worth of going.

You can see the icefall in the steep part of the valley.

It took some time to figure out the best way to approach the icefall. Fossildalen is situated in between of Longyearbyen and Barentsburg which means at least on day hike from either direction. Speed boat option was out of question due to late timing and there wasn´t snow for snowmobiles which would be the easiest way to reach the icefall. Luckily Max suggested a walk from Barentsburg.

October beauty!

We took a tourist cruise to that old Soviet time mining town, drove to the end of the road with “taxi” and hiked three hours to the Traveller´s cabin near Kapp Laila. We just maneged to reach the hut before darkness. Following morning we walked to the mouth of Fossildalen, left all camping gear under some stones and followed riverbed up to the icefall. Canyon was narrow and rockfall danger was there all the time. Nothing big came down but fist size stones were big enough to keep helmets on.

Icefall looked easier than a month ago. It was still running with water! I climbed first 30 meters to a good ledge and belayed Ella up. This was her first time on waterfall ice which made me quite proud. Of course some swearing because I forgot to give technical advice before climbing. Upsss!

Ella seconding.

We both did the remaining five or so meters and rapped off from a V-thread. This was probably the first ascent of “Fossilfossen”, WI4, 35 meters. Ice quality was superb. I hope it becomes a classic early season trip for local climbers or a must do winter trip with snowmobiles. It´s worth it.

That evening we hiked to the Rusanov cabin on the other side of Colesbukta. Not as cozy as Kapp Laila hut but still a good place to stay to avoid bringing a tent.

Third and last day took us over the platteus to Bjørndalen in a full on blizzard. Quite an adventure!

Fossilfossen marked with X.

Fossilfossen, WI4, 35m. FA? Juho Knuuttila and Ella Hellberg, 10/2018.


Early season ice trip:

Day 1: Boat to Barentsburg. Pay for the locals to drive you to the end of the road (to a place called skihouse). Walk three hours and 12km to the Traveller´s cabin.

Day 2: Walk 1,5h to the mouth of Fossildalen. Follow the riverbed for one hour. Climb “Fossilfossen” and hike back to the shore and continue to the Rusanov cabin. Whole day took 9 hours for us.

Day 3: Walk to Bjørndalen in 7 hours. Call someone to pick you up.

Fossildalen clearly visible.

Ella enjoying life.

Walking was mainly very easy.

Sediment canyon and lot of rockfall.

Juho leading.