hidden gems in the lofoten islands, text: tommy vänskä

 

Rumours
At the end of August a crew of boulderer's from Helsinki and Jyväskylä headed way north to the fabled Lofoten islands. Rumour had it that a new, almost undeveloped area called Kvalvika lay waiting for steel brushes and chalk. In fact, reports from scout patrols consisting of Torstein Eide, Mats Mosli, Jyrki Kauko and Samuli Lehtonen told of a paradise-like deserted beach littered with boulders of the finest quality.

 


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Norway as usual
Seeing is believing, and true enough, Kvalvika did not dissapoint. The weather did, however. Out of two weeks on location we had one (1) day with no precipitation at all. And to be honest, there was a faint drizzle even on that day. But everyone knows Norway is a rainy place and complaining is useless (but inevitable). Thanks to frequent (practically hourly) calls back home for the latest weather reports, the showers were as effectively dodged as possible and a fair amount of bouldering was accomplished.

 


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The hard stuff
In Kvalvika some 20 new problems were established, practically all of them of the highest quality. The rock is immaculate, with the shapes of Hueco combined with the texture of Fontainebleau, or sometimes gritstone. The hardest of the new ones is Papillon (8a), a fabulous dyno by Ville Kurru. Another big one would be the passionate project of the same gentleman, Undertaker (7c). The line consists of some 15 moves and climbs out of a horizontal roof, the crux moves being on the lip. The landing is horrendous, but can be protected mainly by an alert spotter. Thanks to some late-found new beta Ville was able to send the line at the last possible moment and with characteristic single-minded fanaticism.


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Another new problem worth mentioning is Yasser, found and established by Markku Tawast and Olli Pyykönen. The problem consists of an approximately 4 meter long roof which turns to slightly overhanging at the end. Around fifteen very steep moves in total, and the grade is a mere 6c! What else? Well, there's Tawast's dyno Double Trouble (7b), the beautiful nameless lip traverse (7a), the steep Diesel Power (7b), the improbable Rainbow Roof (7b+) and so on and so on.

 


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Dare to walk?
Counting previously established problems, among them Jyrki Kauko's stupendous Mikämikämaa (7a+), Kvalvika now has approximately 30 problems, well worth the tedious walk-in, which is about one hour with a day pack and at least twice as long with camping gear. In fact, the walk can be pure hell if you, as some people, choose to carry a huge brick-like tempura pillow and about 3 kilograms of assorted pharmaceuticals (but forget to bring a spoon).

Speaking of gear, a nice little morning storm had the poles of two out of three tents snap like twigs in the wind. As the weather reports said that there was a possibilty for a "full storm" in the evening as opposed to the "little" one we were in the middle of we thought it best to pack up and get the hell out. Thankfully one can get a nice, warm hut for a surprisingly reasonable price during off-season.

 


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Slartibartfast - The Scenery Designer
Activity outside Kvalvika included Marko Kauko's ascent of the notoriously difficult Ta're Baby! (7c+) at the "Under Presten" area near Henningsvaer, and several repeats to Jyrki Kauko's stellar Slartibartfast (7c) along road 815. A couple of Ben Moon's problems were attempted and found superb, but saw no ascents, mainly due to the weather.


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All in all one can only say that it is entirely unfair that such an amount of quality boulders in fabulous settings have been dropped on Lofoten instead of, say, Helsinki, but what can you do? Anyway, it's only a 24 hour drive away. A video from the trip will be out at some point and in some form, check Slouppi for news on that.

 

text by Tommy Vänskä, photos by Tommy Vänskä, Jarkko Parkkinen, Ville Kurru, Samuli Lehtonen