Words and images by Pawel Prokocki
First of all, if you think about Ice Climbing – it sounds quite hardcore. After all, it’s an extreme sport where you’re supposed to be climbing something that’s ‘alive’ like Icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs or rock slabs covered with ice. Doesn’t sound like an easy task, now does it? Sure, It might seem like rock climbing, only on ice. Well.. it is, and it’s not.
The scenery in Rjukan was breathtaking, with towering mountains and frozen waterfalls all around. We started our training around 10 in the morning, when the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon.
I’ll admit, I was a bit apprehensive at first. Although climbing has always been around me, whether during mountaineering adventures or simply when training in climbing gyms but ice climbing sounded like something that was way out of my comfort zone.
We spent the first hour watching Matthias and Tanja setting up the routes by fixing ropes and placing ice screws making sure we could have fun without any risks. The instructions provided by Matthias and Tanja were really helpful. Most beginners tend to think that Ice Climbing is about picking an interesting slab of ice and using an ice axe to get as high as possible. It may seem that you can put the ice axe anywhere, which makes it much easier than the limited number of good holds in rock climbing. But in reality, not every spot is suitable for an ice axe or crampon point because of the nature of the ice. And some routes are different from year to year as the ice freezes and thaws.
I have to admit, getting to learn from two Ice Climbing legends made the whole thing way easier to process. They were both incredibly helpful and made the whole experience really enjoyable. I have to add their patience (given the number of questions asked) was quite admirable! After 4 hours, you could tell that most of us were really exhausted. Turns out that Ice Climbing can be extremely demanding for your body. The classic motion strains the forearms, triceps and shoulder girdle. Nevertheless, everyone seemed to be extremely happy towards the end!
Overall, it was an awesome experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about trying ice climbing for the first time. Now, every time I see an ice climbing advertisement, I get excited instead of anxious. That’s a big change from where I was before this trip – and it’s all thanks to giving ice climbing a chance. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to try something new in such an amazing place. Thanks Norrøna for organising everything!
Pawel is an avid mountain adventurer based in Oslo. He moved to Norway so he could stay connected with nature. His biggest addictions are trail running, hiking, and mountaineering. He loves creating content and sharing his adventures and favorite spots with other like-minded people.