First International Climbers’ Meet in Norway
By Dave Turner
“The idea was to make something without add-ons like sponsors, logos, DJ’s, slideshows, competitions; no public, no clinics and organizers with yellow T-shirts; to bring climbing and adventure into focus by doing new routes on mountains that hardly have had winter ascents. Bringing climbers from all over the world together and just give them pure nature, unspoiled fresh snow, ice, and rock.”
—Event organizer Marius Morstad
Checking out the AAC website, I stumbled on a notice for Norway’s first-ever climbers’ meet. It was happening in early March, in the northwest corner of the country, at a beautiful set of islands that extend into the North Sea. Seven months earlier I had volunteered at the AAC’s International Climbers’ Meet, and one of the best parts was getting to know climbers from around the globe—people with whom you share a common bond but otherwise might never meet. Before I knew it, I was on a plane and on my way.
When I arrived in Harstad a really nice Norwegian guy, Hans Petter Watn, picked me up and within an hour I was on the sharp end, climbing a waterfall that might have been climbed only once. Amazingly, most of the faces in the Lofotens have never seen winter ascents, and many are just plain untouched.
We soon met up with the whole international crew, a diverse bunch including Russians, Greeks, South Africans, French, and others. It was obvious from the start that the climbing was going to be great, but the real highlight of the trip was going to be meeting all of these climbers and maybe sharing a rope—even for a soloist like me!
The way the peaks rise directly from the sea—laced with great rock and ice—truly makes this region magic. Many described the superb climbing as “Scottish” conditions. I have never been to Scotland, but the Lofoten climbing reminded me a bit of what I’d seen in Peru, with steep snow, ice, and rock all in the same pitch. Some of us partnered up with new friends, some with the climber they arrived with, and I chose to go out alone most of the time. I did, however, get to climb with new friends from Norway, South Africa, and Colorado.
After each day of climbing, at the lodge we were treated to some of the best fish dishes I have ever had. We had fish at almost every meal: smoked salmon at breakfast, salmon sandwiches for lunch, and for dinner cod, whale, blackfish, shrimp, and just about anything that swims in these northern waters.
It would be hard to find another place as spectacular as the “Magic Isles.” Add to it a great collection of foreign climbers, some awesome weather, and a really nice lodge: Paradise.
Some 60 new routes went up during the meet. “These images speak better than all the words I could type,” said Slovenian Marko Prezelj. Ten of his photos appear below.