Rapellruta at Svolværgeita

I awoke today in Svolvær, relieved to be spending the next few days at this location and ready for some thrills to shake off any jet lag. It was around 8 AM at Benjamin’s house, and for breakfast I had muesli, blabær (blueberry) yogurt, a piece of cheese and a piece of ham. Then we walked into the town centre to pick up a rental car. It was a beautiful and refreshing sunny morning and on the way we passed over a bridge, under which the ocean flowed through to fill a mountain valley like a lake. Once we picked up the car, we made a quick stop at the Kiwi minipris grocery store to get some food for lunch. At the grocery store we learned that eplejuice == apple juice, but “appels in juice” <> apple juice.

Eplejuice and appelsinjuice

Next, we set out southwest to Kalle. The drive was nothing but gorgeous ocean coastline set against dramatic mountain scenery. The lodge Kalle i Lofoten was around the edge of a bay. There we met our guide from Northern Alpine Adventures who fitted us into climbing gear (helmet, harness and climbing shoes). Then, we headed back to Svolvær, at the trailhead to Svolværgeita.

We headed up the trail with our guide Charlie, who is actually from BC. He was friendly, chatting with us during the hike.

Our guide Charlie, and our final destination, Svolværgeita in the background
Already getting a glimpse of the town

The hike took 1 to 1.5 hours, entirely uphill. It was well marked, but we had to step over various large boulders. Luckily it was sunny and the trail was dry, so it was a good day for the excursion. Along the way, one could look back to see views of Svolvær, the surrounding mountains, and the Norwegian Ocean as we ascended.

Even from here you can get a great view.
A view of Skrova (the island in the distance)

We came to the end of the hiking portion, to a steep but grassy hill lined with rocks. The base of the Svolværgeita rock tower was very windy and cold. Here, we put on our climbing gear. There is more than one way up Svolværgeita but we are taking route 1, Rapellruta on the north face, as illustrated in this book below of climbing in the Lofoten, which we found at a later date in a café in Henningsvær. The description reads:

Rapellruta 48m. Fine climbing up the line of the abseil ascent, steep and juggy after a surprisingly tough start.

  1. 5, 28m. Struggle up the leaning groove to reach a resting ledge then step out onto the steep face on the left and plough up the ladder of jugs following a crackline to reach a ledge and double-bolt belay. Exhilarating climbing.
  2. 4+ 20m. Continue up the deep groove system on the left to reach the notch between the horns (view). Traverse right across the inner face past flakes (exposed) to reach the western arete of the Storhorn and climb this to the top. Cross the gap to a belay on gear on the Lillehorn. Take care with rope work on this pitch.
The way up the rock tower, as illustrated in a book

Charlie climbed first, then once he was at a higher section, Shawn went. I followed after. I climbed the rope ladders and had gone some ways, but it was not long before I was in a bit of a panic. I couldn’t find the next hand hold. The wind was also blowing strongly, and it was a cold wind so my fingers were going numb. I had a long way to go and I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do other than fall off the cliff. However, there was really only one option, which was to carry on. Eventually, I grabbed at something and took a step up, then another, and the way to go started to get a bit clearer.

Right before the resting ledge was a bit of an overhang, which I somehow got over with a bit of a struggle and encouragement from Charlie who was now in sight. Here, I warmed my hands a bit before our group finished the final ascent. This last portion was easier for me, and the wind had calmed. Soon I was sitting atop the goat’s horn! There was a 150 m drop off the side, but a fantastic view of the area – Svolvær, Skrova, and the ocean and mountains in sunny weather. I also had the satisfaction of accomplishment and relief for having reached the top and completing my first mountain climb.

Hello from the top! We were actually both really scared here. Hahah
The beautiful view of Svolvær
Ocean and mountains in the distance

Note that we did not do the part in the book with the man jumping across the 1.5m gap from the Storhorn to the Lillehorn, ie. “jumping the goat’s (geit) horns”. You will find all sorts of pictures on the Internet of people making this ridiculous jump. Interestingly, we had picked Norway to travel to because this jumping activity was listed in Shawn’s book The Best Place to be Today: 365 Things to do & the Perfect Day to do Them as something to be done in June. Svolværgeita looked neat anyways, nevermind the jump. The climb itself was enough for me.

We were lowered down, then hiked back to the bottom making it back by 3:00 PM.

Going down. I have the green coat (Photo by Shawn)
I look happy because I’m almost back on solid ground (Photo by Shawn)
Going down. I have the green coat (Photo by Shawn)
Later we saw some Danish girls going up. They are at/near the top here.

We said goodbye to Charlie, who gave us some additional suggestions for places to go around the area. Wow, what an adventure.

Upper and Lower Galatea Lake

This weekend I went hiking at Galatea Creek in the Kananaskis. It was perfect hiking weather – not to hot, but not too cool. The hike is 6.5km to Lillian Lake, with a fairly moderate elevation gain along the way. The trail winds along Galatea Creek, crossing over bridges occasionally. The hike also goes through forested areas and rocky sections.

Galatea Creek

Past Lillian Lake for another 1.0-1.5 km, are the Upper and Lower Galatea Lakes. Although the trail to the Galatea Lakes is much steeper than to Lillian Lake, the views are much nicer with a fantastic view of the mountains.

Lillian Lake and the Mountain View
Mountains around the Galatea Lakes
Mountains around the Galatea Lakes

Lillian Lake is more of a greenish colour, while the Galatea Lakes are a striking blue! I’ve been to this trail a number of times before, but it was amazing to see that even though it is July, there is a remarkable amount of snow. There are large chunks of ice still in Lower Galatea Lake, and Upper Galatea Lake is almost completely frozen!

Frozen ice chunks on Lower Galatea Lake
Frozen ice chunks on Lower Galatea Lake
Glacier Lillies in full bloom
Glacier Lillies in full bloom
Upper Galatea Lake
Upper Galatea Lake
Lower Galatea Lake
Lower Galatea Lake
Another view of Lower Galatea Lake
Upper Galatea Lake - lots of ice!
Upper Galatea Lake – lots of ice!