Saturday, 5 March 2011

rjukan, day 5 (avalanche)

Today was a bit of a nightmare, I don’t know what to blog, so I’ll just re-produce what I wrote in an email to a friend of mine (apologies for the typos and lack of care):

“Not sure what to blog really. I'm ok, just a few bruises. First time I've ever been avalanched, thank goodness Tom and I were both on the belay stance and the belay was good, it was quite an impact and a genuinely terrifying thing to look up and see a wall of snow heading straight down toward you! It was also the first time Dave's ever had to shout such a desperate warning! One of the first things  he said when he saw us this eve (he was in front with Ant, I bailed from the route with Tom so we just walked back to the hut), was "I'm glad you survived". Apparently it was quite spectacular - Kate watched from the bottom and Dave and Ant saw from above - Dave said they'd both prayed that we hadn't been hit (it missed them), and Kate was scared when we 'disappeared' under it as it hit us.

Anyway, all is good really, and in a twisted sort of way I'm quite pleased - we bailed, failed on the route completely yet somehow I'm just glad!

Incidentally, before the avalanche I actually got stuck...that was also a first. Genuinely, completely and utterly stuck. I'd been forced to take a different line to the others (we were climbing simultaneously) and ended up away from the main ice fall trapped on a snow field - 3 feet of loose powder over unfeatured rock slab. I managed to reach a sapling (no thicker than my thumb) that I could stand on with one foot, and had to shout over to Dave for rescue. I couldn't move up as the snow was too bad and I'd hit a blank rock band, I couldn't go back down because the climbing had been too hard and insecure to reverse, I couldn't traverse for the same reason I couldn't continue upwards, I had no gear at all, was 40m up on shitty snow that could barely hold my bodyweight and was ideally conditioned to avalanche...I genuinely thought I'd had it. For a good few minutes I thought I was going to die (and I'm not exaggerating - I was in tears in panic). Mercifully my last ditch option of abseiling off said miniscule sapling (half abseiling, half downclimbing and praying it didn’t flex far enough for the sling to come off) wasn't necessary as Dave and Ant managed to get a rope over to me so I could traverse safely back onto the ice...bloody hell was it scary, the snow was unbelievably bad, absolutely nothing solid anywhere, it was genuinely more like a swim than anything else...”


  1. Sooo, an interesting day then. ;-)

    play safe! hope the bruising heals ok

  2. Which waterfall was the avalance on?

    If you`d like - post some info/pictures at: