Sunday, 26 February 2017


If you use this blog, please leave a comment - we'd love to know if people are finding it useful!  And if you climb something we haven't, then let us know too (we'll probably want to climb it next time we are here).

In 2017 we returned to Lyngen, and have now updated the blog for that area.  Not least, in separating Kåfjord into two pages - this valley alone offers a fortnight of world class climbing! 

While this blog concentrates on the Lyngen area, we've included some information for Senja, Spansdalen and Sørdalen from our visit in 2012. These areas are more comprehensively covered elsewhere on the internet but the information we've provided should give a good idea of what's out there.

We have included updates from Ian Parnell and friends' trip in 2013, as featured in Climb magazine - get hold of a copy!  More can be seen on Ian's blog.  Thanks to Ian for providing info and photos.

We hope you find this site a useful introduction to ice climbing in Northern Norway.


Introduction - Updated 2017
Logistics - Updated 2017
The Pre-Climb Checklist - New 2017
Arctic wildlife - New 2017
Thanks - Updated 2017
Nick and Jim's Future Ticklist - New 2017

This guideblog is ordered clockwise from the North-east:

North of Kåfjord - Updated 2017
Kåfjord - Updated 2017
Kåfjord - The Canyons - New 2017 
E6 North of Skibotn - Updated 2017
Roadside Ice Cragging - Updated 2017
Skibotndalen - Updated 2017
Kitdalen - Updated 2017

Blue squares = just some of the climbs described on this site


This North Norway Ice Guideblog mainly covers ice climbing in the area east of Tromsø including the Lyngen Alps, shown on the above map as Lyngen & Nord Troms. This area rivals anywhere else we have climbed including Canada, Rjukan and Cogne. We have visited the Lyngen area twice, for 6 weeks in total, in 2011 and 2017. 

The blog also includes climbs on the island of Senja and in the Sørdalen / Spansdalen areas, to the southwest of Tromsø, which we visited in 2012. There is quite a lot of info on these areas out there on the web, so we won't cover them here in any great detail.

All photos were taken during those times.  Oh, and in all the weeks in these areas we've only seen one other pair of climbers. You can forget about having to queue!

We don't claim to be experts in the areas but figured that, as little information is available, some people may appreciate reading what we know. We're sure we have not found all the climbing. There will be plenty more to find if you have a sense of adventure. If you do discover more climbing, please let us know so we can include it in our plans for our next visit!

Apart from Hattavarri we are confident that most if not all routes on this blog have been climbed before, mainly by Norwegian ice climbers who, over the years, have been motivated by adventure and have shown little interest in recording their own exploits. In the absence of any published route names we have given some route 'nicknames'.  Please don't think of these as the official route name (if there were such a thing), it just helped us to remember what was what.
"Cathedral", Kvalvik

For a more detailed account of our trips, have a read our blogs: Jim's blog and Nick's blog.

Otertinden, 1356m, Signaldalen

Saturday, 25 February 2017




Some flights go directly to Tromsø, but many require a change (often at Oslo).  We flew direct from London Gatwick to Tromsø with Norwegian - this was a more expensive way of doing it but worth it for time and hassle saved.

Car hire

There are several car hire companies operating from Tromsø Airport. Like everything in Norway, it isn't very cheap.


This site allows you to check whether particular roads are closed.
This webpage gives links to webcams on roads across Norway.
Weather: or

And don't drive off the road:

For the Lyngen area, we stayed at Strandbu in Skibotn (N 69deg22.6277, E 20deg16.1243).  They have a variety of cabins accommodating up to six people.  The owner is extremely helpful.  They also have a wood-fired sauna on site.  We absolutely recommend this place!

Skibotn seemed an ideal place to be based.  It is fairly central to the Lyngen climbing areas, with none more than an hour away (with good driving conditions).

Cabin 7 at Strandbu.

Other options we investigated: (looks fantastic, not really comparable with the cabin we stayed at - this place has hot tubes, luxury and a boat to drop you off!)

Aadne Olsrud, one of the friendly locals we sought advice from, has opened some apartments in Tamok that are targeted at climbers and skiers.  His Facebook page is worth checking out as another option for somewhere to stay. Search for Olsrud Adventure on FB.

For Senja:

For Sordalen and Spansdalen:
Both recommended


Every town / village seems to have a Co-op or Joker mini-market type store.  There are larger supermarkets in Tromsø (worth going to on way from airport if time allows) and Nordkjosbotn and over the border in Finland.

Always make time for cake.

Too early in the year and there is very little daylight.  We had sufficient daylight when we went at the end of February, probably nearing on 12hrs of daylight.  During our visits, temperatures have ranged from +5 to -12degC, but can be much lower.  Check these weather statistics.


Norway has a fantastic weather service that, in our experience, was very geographically specific and quite accurate.  Check the difference between Skibotn, Lyngseidet and Furuflaten - these are all only a few kms apart.

(Edit: for 2012, we found the weather forecast less accurate, a combination of generally very unsettled weather and being closer to the west coast I think)


None of them are really that far in distance or height gain.  The snow had a much bigger effect on our walk-in times, so we haven't given any estimates.  Though something along the lines of "guess, double it and double it again" would have been accurate on some of our days!  Our longest was three hours, not long by Scottish standards.  One climb took two and a half hours of wading to get to and 25mins to get down - it was an icefall named 'Roadside'.  If you are lucky with the snow, most will be quite short.

Trenching through the snow basin.

Specialist Kit

Snowshoes or skis are essential.  We used snowshoes every day we were there.

Most routes are descended via abolokov threads - take plenty of tat.
Binoculars are very useful for spotting climbs and helping to guess how hard they could be!
We did not have avalanche kit, but avalanches are a very real risk.  Lyngen Lodge sometimes post up what they have been up to which may be useful.


Time to run away!
This truly brilliant website offers detailed mapping that can be saved and printed.  It is worth printing copies for all the areas listed on this guideblog.  We did not need to 'navigate' at all during our trip.


Ice climbing is dangerous, disclaimer done.  Emergency numbers are 112 and 113.  But have a read of this anyway:  We were told there is a mountain rescue service, including helicopter rescue similar to the UK - don't take our word for it though.


Avalanche forecasts
Slope gradients

Getting used to the ice: ice-cragging

There are many opportunities for roadside cragging. We tend to do this at the start of a trip to reacquaint ourselves with the ice and to get a feel for ice conditions (low-level at least). One of the best places we've found is on the E6 north of Skibotn

Other resources

There are a few bits and pieces on the web about ice climbing in the area.  Some links we found useful are below, but we can't vouch for accuracy. (Arctic Norway Ice, googlemap of climbs, in part based on this blog!) (Googlemap of routes) (another Googlemap of routes)
Essential kit? (We go lighter these days. Well, a bit)

The petrol stations sell hotdogs.  Jim swears by them.  Nick swears at them.

The Pre-Climb Checklist

Inexplicably, every time we climb, we seem to neglect to consider at least one thing.  This prompted me to write the below and thought it may be useful to others.

Remember, this area is relatively remote (certainly in terms of mountain rescue).  Be paranoid about avalanches.

Wind – pleasantness
Wind – windslab
Snowfall (rain equivalence)

Snow conditions
Recent temperature fluctuations

Approach slope
Windslab and snowfall
Slope above route

Car parking
Route in
Navigating (maps etc)
Are snowshoes needed?

Time it gets light
Time it gets dark
Can the drive and/or walk-in to be done in the dark?

Have you told someone where you are going?
Do you have comms (mobile phone or other)?

Friday, 24 February 2017

Arctic wildlife

Apologies in advance to any budding ornithologists out there: we are completely hopeless at identifying birds, beyond the common ones found in the UK...
Nick spots "some kind of duck-like creature"
Arctic Northern Norway is rich in wildlife, which can add excitement to any visit there. The landscape is largely untouched by man. Even when driving on the E6, or down the more populated valleys, you're aware of being on the edge of a great wilderness.

The health and variety of wildlife in Arctic Norway is probably best illustrated by the large variety of carnivorous predators at the head of the food chain. There are predators specialising in hunting in the fjords, in the air, and on land. But more of them later - it's enough to say for now that you are not going to be eaten by one. Unless you're very unlucky.

There's moose aboot
We've seen moose (elk) a few times, most recently a group of 3 large animals crossing the road a couple of hundred yards from our cabin at Skibotn. They are commonly seen - perhaps surprisingly so given the Norwegians' taste for moose burgers - and their tracks are everywhere.

They weigh up to 450kg - watch out for moose road signs and drive carefully near wooded areas...

Sea otters hunt for fish along the shores of Lyngen fjord. We've told that a good place for spotting otter is from the E6 between Skibotn and Birtavarre, where it turns east. We haven't seen any in the Lyngen area yet, though we encountered one walking down the main street of Mefjordvær village, Senja, during our trip in 2012.

Whales and Orca are regularly seen in the area, though many of the whales move south before winter, following the herring migration. You can however see pods of porpoise here in winter, hunting the fjords for fish.
Giz a fish mate
White-tailed eagles hunt the fjords and can be seen on a near-daily basis. They seem to have little fear of people. One swooped low over our car during our 2011 trip.

Golden eagles can be seen flying over the dalen, too. Their prey includes Arctic hare and ptarmigan, both of which we saw on our trip in 2017.

Eurasian Lynx and wolverine roam the valleys. There have been sightings in Skibotndalen and Kåfjordalen. These are shy creatures, though, so while you may well see their tracks in the snow you aren't likely encounter the animals themselves. But it's good to know they're there.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

About Us

This guideblog was written by Nick Harvey and James Booth.  We're two London based climbers, who are passably competent at this ice climbing business. Maybe, just, and on the seldom occasion we actually get to do it.

You can contact Nick at

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


During our first time in Norway a few people were really helpful and so we would like to thank Stein-Are Engstad, Kjetil Letto and Aadne Olsrud for all their advice that helped make our first trip so successful (and thus enabled us to write this guideblog).

Ian Parnell kindly shared information and photographs from his trip in 2013, which helped to fill in some of the gaps on this blog and provide objectives for our 2017 trip. There's a report of Ian's trip in Climb magazine - get hold of a copy!  More can be seen on Ian's blog

Thanks are due also to Toby Archer, Johu Risku and Tapio Alhonsuo, and Graham Austick (of Lyngen Lodge) for their advice and putting up with our pestering them for information. 

Special thanks go to Neil O'Gorman for all the help and information he gave us in advance of our 2017 trip.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Nick & Jim's future ticklist

We've climbed in the area this blog covers for a total of nearly eight weeks, but there is still lots left for us to climb, so here is our list for the next few trips:

(This is mostly self-serving but certainly demonstrates the volume of routes here!)

Orndalen - mighty WI6 at back
Orndalen - big WI4/5s on right
Orndalen - narrow gulley

Gorsabrua - WI6 pillar
Gorsabrua - whatever is at the end (Storfossen etc)

Kafjordalen - above road driving through Birtavarre

Tamokdalen - Hattavarre 2 and 3

Near E6 - Monster
Near E6 - brown ice coast side of road tunnel

Lyngen - Goldrush
Lyngen - valley south of Kvalvik routes

Skibotndalen - Hourglass

Other areas -
Sordalen - Rubben etc (lots)
Flaget lake

North of Kåfjord


Getting to this island involves a boat trip. We haven't visited the island yet, but Alpinist Newswires has information on Uloya, and there's more information here including an option for accommodation. 


Austrian climber Albert Leichtfried visited this island (which can be accessed by tunnel) in 2014, and his report mentions a 550m WI6 at Trolltinden, Kågen. We haven't visited Kågen yet.


Spurred by a report that Reisedalen is an ice climbing Eldorado of the North, we visited it in 2017. Maybe it was the thin conditions this year, or we didn't look hard enough, but we were disappointed. 

While we didn't find much ice, Ian Parnell reports:

On a rest day Kenton and I followed the E6 north as far as Oksfjorden and then the E865 into Reisadalen just beyond Sappen. The latter in particular I think offers some interesting stuff particularly in the grade IV - V range.

At Sappen was a campsite perhaps called Reisenfossen with what through the trees looked to be a major icefall 300m of IV or harder. There were many hillside glacial run off smears in 200m plus scale plus a few more normal falls I've included photos, combine this with the series of icefalls above the E6 just before Fosselvfossen east of Sorslett and you have the makings of a very good trip.

Fosselvfossen 80m cone
Reisadalen 400m+ wall 2

Reisadalen 400m+ wall

Reisadalen east of Torfoss 30m IV - V

Reisadalen Torfoss 40m IV or V

Reisadalen Torfoss 60m+ IV-V

West Fosselv 100m V - V+

Monday, 20 February 2017

Kåfjord - The Canyons

New for 2017

After hearing about these two canyons from Ian Parnell and Albert Leichtfried, we thought we really better investigate them on our return in 2017. Our conclusion - if you come to this area to climb, you have to go here!  So much so, they deserve separating from the rest of Kåfjord and now get their own page.

There are two canyons or gorgesØrnedalen and Sabetjohka canyon.  Ørnedalen is the largest canyon in northern Europe and runs southwest from the main valley.  Sabetjohka (no less impressive) is a continuation of the main Kåfjordalen river and is home to the Gorsabrua suspension bridge and bungee jump that are indicated on some maps and signposts.  The blue dots below give a very rough indication of where the climbing is.

The main point about these areas is that you should really take a look at the pictures below to give you a rough idea of what you might find and then head on in there (early in your trip as you will probably want to go back!) - you can't get lost, just keep following the canyon.  Both walks are in the region of two to three hours.


Approach: we parked on the east side of the valley and crossed the main river where there is some tourist info at Ankerlia (old mines), then just follow paths into the canyon.

Highest point in canyon
The above photo from 2013 shows the main prize of a 200m WI6 on the left - this is the head of the canyon and is the same as in the picture below, taken from outside the canyon (different year, 2017).  The routes on the right side above are, maybe, three long multipitches at WI5ish.

Before you get that high, there are other routes - the largest being another long route at approx WI5 on the right side.  Before that again, there looks to be an atmospheric two pitch route in a tight gulley.

Remember, 2017 was a lean year so there could well be more ice most years.

For scale, and it only shows the bottom quarter!

Sabetjohka (signed Gorsabrua)

Approach: park on the east or west approach roads and head straight up the valley, passing the mouth of Ørndalen canyon on your right. If approaching from the east road, head down toward the river about where the tourist info is.  (You can keep on the road and carry straight on, onto a path that leaves the road the first switch-back but this includes some unnecessary ascent.)  Note - the bridge shown on the map above in the canyon to the left, on the road after the switch-backs is NOT the bungee jumping bridge and just crosses a side valley.

The photos below run roughly in order heading up the gorge, now running broadly south.  There are routes from WI3 - WI7 (potentially, depending on conditions).  We only got so far up the gorge, to a narrowing where the river wasn't frozen - beyond there, there is the mighty Storfossen which is next to the bungee bridge, and maybe more.  Storfossen WI7 has such a volume of water it may not come into condition very readily.

in a fat year?



Pillar, WI5/6


120m WI5
Beyond these climbs is Storfossen. Photos here (taken in summer) give an indication of the size of the falls.
See here for Albert Leichtfried's account of his ascent:
A report and video of a visit by Luka Lindič is here:

Ian Parnell's description:
There are perhaps 10 falls from 40-120m in the main gorge formed by the Guolasjokka river - I think this is called the Sabitjakka Gorge but might be wrong. We climbed a nice 50m V+ there. We also returned to the Ørndalen Gorge which had been visited by Kurt Astner in 2011 (report on BD website) this is called the deepest gorge in Northern Norway on the toursit sign and branches off rightwards i.e South west. This has about 5 or so big falls not sure of grade spread Astner climbed a V, a V+ and VI, we climbed an unformed version of his VI, at perhaps a notch harder. I saw several big rambling adventurous looking things that looked in the IV+-V range. 

Ørndalen means 'the eagle valley' in Norwegian; Ørn is Eagle and Dalen means 'the valley'. 

Gorsabrua means 'the bridge of Gorsa' in Norwegian, brua means 'the bridge' and it's the name of the suspension footbridge at the top, it's not the name of the canyon.