Trip Report
Thursday January 31, 2013 9:50am
Route: Suser gjennom Harryland (VI A3 5.10b, 18 pitches, Halvor Hagen-Kyrre Ostbo, 1996)
4th Ascent and 1st technical winter Ascent (15th Jan - 29th) (Norwegians Sigurd Backe, Rolf Bae, Sigurd Felde and Trym A. Saland made the first quasi-winter and third overall ascent, but failed to finish with the technical winter date of 21th March)

Climbers: Andy Kirkpatrick (UK), Tormod Granheim (No) and Aleksander Gamme (No).

Days spent climbing and descending the wall: 14

Conditions: Super calm but cold (down to minus 20), with some wind and snow on last 2 days of climb.

Route description: Technical and steep, mostly safe, but with most pitches having loose features to avoid. Bolted belays and some lead bolts (many of dubious quality), as well some rivets and minimal fixed gear (copper heads and pegs).

Description of climb
In September 2011 I (AK) tried to make a solo ascent of Suser gjennom Harryland, climbing 17 pitches over several days, but turning back on the last 30 metres, due to a lack of water, time and an a "feeling" that it was time to turn around (my camera switched on as I decided what to do, playing a clip of my son Ewen saying "Dad - get away").

Since then I'd had it in mind to return and finish the climb in winter, seeing it as a great winter line (safe-ish and very steep). The problem was no one wanted to climb the Troll wall in winter, either because they believed it was super dangerous ("hasn't it fallen down?") or just super grim (they were right). In the end I had to forgo experience in return for plain enthusiasm, teaming up with two non climbers, who had never climbed a big wall, and one who had never led a traditional pitch ("I'm really just an indoor climber"). This may seem like a rather odd/foolhardy thing to do, but then I have a lot of experience in climbing with 'non-qualified" partners, and know that you should judge a potential parter not by their ability to tie knots but by their other attributes first: sense of humor, resilience, a track record of having performed in a trying environment (mentally and physically) before you make a decision about their ability to climb a wall. Although thin on wall climbing skills, Aleks and Tormod had more than enough to qualify for such a climb (Tormod was the 1st person to ski the North face of Everest, and Aleks was the first to ski solo too and from the South Pole). Having never climbed with either climber, I promised I'd lead all the pitches I judged as being 'not for beginners' (meaning I led all but 15metres of the route) and taught them the basics via email (jumaring, cleaning and hauling).

Aleks with other partner in Antartica
Aleks with other partner in Antartica
Credit: Andy KP

Credit: Andy KP

We finally met up on the 13th of January in Oslo and packed up all our kit for the five hour drive from Oslo to Andelsnes the following day, making our first carry (with help from locals) up to the base of the wall. My first worry was how cold it was, the temp even at such a low altitude being -18 deg C, with a light wind. I began to really worry about being able to stay warm on the wall, and the seriousness of a winter ascent on the Troll (I'd spent a week trying a new route on the wall in the winter of 2002, so I did have some experience of the 'Scottish' conditions you can encounter there).

Credit: Andy KP

Over the next few days we fixed up the wall, the climbing being slow due to the very short daylight hours (8ish to 4ish), and the cold (free climbing and sky hooking required bare hands). The climbing was all familiar, meaning it was a little faster, but to begin I climbed only 1 pitch a day until we reached pitch five, when I could begin 'short fixing', and the pitches increased to 2 a day. Some of the belays were in poor conditions (corroded or rusty bolts), and a new bolt was added to pitch 2, 1 to pitch 3 (this belay comprised of 2 rusted wires in a block wedged in the gully) and one to pitch 18 and one at the final anchor (another rusty wire). The route was already heavily bolted, and although many bolts were in poor condition (low strength Petzl 8mm caving bolts with alloy hangers) no bolts were added to pitches.

Home from work
Home from work
Credit: Andy KP

Anyone making an ascent of the route should consider rebolting the route properly (I added a Petzl steel 10mm bolt to one single bolt anchor in 2011). As an aside there are a number of Russian removable bolt holes on the route, which should be filled in and patched (I had 2 Russian removavble bolts, but only used them where these holes were drilled at pitch 5 and 10).
Credit: Andy KP
The climb was carried out 'capsule style' fixing ropes up from a camp at pitch 5 and 10, allowing the team to rap down at the end of the day and maximize climbing time.

Credit: Andy KP
After around 12 days of climbing we reached the final pitch, which was climbed in stormy weather (the last 3 pitches were covered in ice, making them the hardest to climb) to the final anchor (rusty wire and unidentified anchor enchased in ice). The team descended back to pitch 10 in the dark, and the ropes left so we could confirm we'd actually made it to the top, before stripping down to 10 the next day.

Credit: Andy KP
We'd hoped to climb up to the top of the wall itself (all other teams apart from a Russian team who thought they were on a different route, had rapped the climb), but having led all the pitches my fingers were in no state for hard mixed climbing on the Troll pillar. Becouse this had been our plan we'd not left any fixed lines below in order to get back down the overhanging and traversing route, meaning it took us a further day to climb/rap down the wall below.

Aleks getting ice from our 200 litre ice barrel
Aleks getting ice from our 200 litre ice barrel
Credit: Andy KP

Tormod without his skis on
Tormod without his skis on
Credit: Andy KP

How did the big wall students get on? Well apart from being a great deal of contraband that made hauling even harder than usual (we had 10 litres of fuel left, as long as a large frozen salmon, bacon, a solar panel, enough batteries to power a small city), they soon got the hang of big wall life, dropping very little and soon adapting to life on a wall. I look forward to climbing with them again.

Looking for bat hook holes under the ice
Looking for bat hook holes under the ice
Credit: Andy KP
There was some confusion/controversy about the climb after we got down, which may have caused offence to local climbers, as both Aleks abd Tormod spent a lot of their boring belay duty facebooking and talking to Norweigan media (radio, TV and print), leading to some inaccurate comments by the media, such as the route "was the hardest", and that we were ignoring the first ascent of winter by Sigurd Backe, Rolf Bae, Sigurd Felde and Trym A. Saland in 2007, which had missed the technical winter season by 4 days (they had had worse weather than us, but also much weather that was 10 degrees warmer and much more daylight - plus they were all climbers!). It's also true that we did not 'climb the Troll Wall' in winter, just 'a route on the Troll wall'. Perhaps that will have to wait until next year!

On our second night in the valley we gave a talk to the local climbing club (a club with more gnarly climbers than any other I suspect), and I hope they could see that we were not media hungry big heads, making a big deal about a climb that was hardly even on the wall, and simply three fools looking for some cold adventure.

  Trip Report Views: 4,518
Andy KP
About the Author
Andy KP is a climber from the UK


Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jan 31, 2013 - 09:54am PT
Right on!

You guys are bad ass! Too bad it wasn't winter and all.....HA!!


Big Wall climber
  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:01am PT
Congrats. Great wall, great climb!
Pretty unusual conditions (no snow)...

  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:09am PT
Yer friggin' nuts.

taught them the basics via email
Yer friggin' nuts.

More pics, please. (Fun to see what insane looks like.)

  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:18am PT
In the end I had to forgo experience in return for plain enthusiasm, teaming up with two non climbers, who had never climbed a big wall, and one who had never led a traditional pitch ("I'm really just an indoor climber").
oh my goodness. from the gym to the troll wall in winter? (stunned silence)

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:33am PT
Thanks for posting here! I liked the writeup, but if you felt inclined to add any of the blow by blow details that other misguided individuals might consider boring, e.g. "... getting dark when the beak popped out and I fell onto a frayed wire that miraculously held" held..." you know. ;-)


Big Wall climber
Newbury Park
  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:42am PT
Awesome writeup! More pics please!

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:47am PT
taught them the basics via email

that's straight up GNAR!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:47am PT
Andy, continuing your badass ways....and always with a sense of humor. "Rookies" with those pedigrees are hard to come by.

Nor Cal
  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:52am PT
bad ass. looks killer up there.

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
  Jan 31, 2013 - 10:56am PT
Hmmm, very interesting Andy. Particularly your selection criteria for partners.
I work with a bunch of 'heed cases' and had never seen their potential staring me in the face...

'Y'know yer not bad at that bomb disposal malarkey' Fancy a go at the Nose?

Joking aside you're right - a cool head and right attitude goes a long way.
More pictures needed though!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jan 31, 2013 - 11:05am PT
Smashing! Way to get up there and stay after it in prime condish! Thanks for a great write up and a proud send.

Andy KP

Author's Reply  Jan 31, 2013 - 11:21am PT
More pics here on flickr
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Jan 31, 2013 - 11:56am PT

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Jan 31, 2013 - 12:01pm PT
Jo, det var bra, og kald, og ballsy, og in gud style.
Andy, I'm surprised your friends didn't sneak in some gammelost -
that stuff is like having a nuclear reactor in a jar.

Social climber
Durango CO
  Jan 31, 2013 - 12:08pm PT
Way burley and great pics. Thanks!

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Jan 31, 2013 - 12:24pm PT
goooood stuff.

Sport climber
  Jan 31, 2013 - 01:09pm PT
Proud ascent in Norwegian Harryland...

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Jan 31, 2013 - 02:59pm PT
Man, that looks cool! (freezing acutally ;-)


  Jan 31, 2013 - 05:16pm PT
Good work, lads.

Had to bump: this fell off the front page in less than half a day. Too much climbing content; no trolling, Boobs, banning, bickering, name-calling etc.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 31, 2013 - 07:32pm PT
Awesome way to send!!!!!
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California, now Ireland
  Jan 31, 2013 - 07:35pm PT
Wow, Andy. Kudos to you and partners. And thanks for the advice some years back, unfortunately, I haven't been able to use it. Cheers
Stewart Johnson

Gym climber
top lake
  Jan 31, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
Proper! and brrrrrr.

Trad climber
  Feb 1, 2013 - 09:00am PT
Thanks for the TR and pictures!

I read your book "Cold Wars" a couple of months ago- very entertaining.

We need more "...flawed opinions and pig farmer psychology."

Thanks for keeping it real.

Big Wall climber
The Bear State
  Feb 1, 2013 - 01:11am PT
Andy, you always amaze me with what your crazy mind come up with! Thanks for the inspiration!


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Feb 1, 2013 - 01:27am PT
cold silly fun, dig it
Anonym Astmatiker

Ice climber
Trondheim, Norway
  Feb 1, 2013 - 03:48am PT
Great work sir!
We were the ones blinking headlamps to you from the Horn two weeks ago. Did you get my morse signals?
-.. .. -.-. -.- / .. -. / - .... . / - --- .- ... - . .-.

  Feb 2, 2013 - 03:12am PT
nice twist at the beginning:

"i took up a couple of beginners with no experience ... oh yeah ... they had done first descents on everest and first ski tours at the south pole"

thanks for the tr.
Johnny K.

  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:18pm PT