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Winter Routes Erupt Across Europe

Above the Norwegian town of Eidfjord is Skrikjofossen, a 500-meter frozen waterfall. Will Gadd and Andreas Spak climbed three icefalls, including this one, around Eidfjord during mid-February and believe them first ascents. Gadd called Skrikjofossen “the classiest, the cleanest, the most stellar waterfall line I’ve ever done.” [Photo] Christian Pondella

From Norway and Scotland to Italy and Spain, ice-climbing conditions have been prime this month. Numerous hard winter lines and notable repeats have been climbed in February, and the momentum for new routes seems only to be growing.

After establishing Spray On, the controversial route documented in the February 1, 2010 NewsWire, Will Gadd headed to Norway with Andreas Spak. Spending February 9-15 in Eidfjord in central Norway, the two, along with photographer Christian Pondella, climbed three big waterfalls. The team believes they were first to climb Skykkjedalsfossen (WI5+ R, 400m) and two challenging falls they left ungraded: Fun Fossen (300m) and Skrikjofossen (500m).

“Grade it whatever you need to feel good about the grade,” Gadd said of Skrikjofossen. “It gives you everything you need.”

Ines Papert repeating Blood Sweat and Frozen Tears (VIII,8) on Beinn Eighe, Scotland. [Photo] Ian Parnell

In the Aragon region of the Spanish Pyrenees, three climbers finally completed a challenging, bolted mixed project. Chiro Sanchez, Kike Villasur and Javier Bueno linked Axioma (M8 WI6, 7 pitches, 300m) on January 28 in tempestuous conditions. The climb had been attempted unsuccessfully for five years. Two weeks later, on Feburary 10, Martin Elias and Manu Cordova climbed the third ascent of Substancia Ordinaire d’une fin du siecle (WI7) in Vallee d’Heas in the High Pyrenees. The late Jerome Thinieres established the futuristic line 11 years earlier.

Repeats in Scotland by Ines Papert also made headlines. She climbed Unicorn (VIII,8) in Glen Coe and Blood Sweat and Frozen Tears (VIII,8) on Beinn Eighe, reportedly making her the first woman to lead that grade in Scotland. On February 19 with Ian Parnell, she also put up one of her own: Little Nipper (VI,8, 60m) is a new two-pitch route up the Far East Wall of Beinn Eigbe.

On February 10, in Austria’s Zillertal, Albert Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner established Gorillas im Nebel (M10 WI6, 3 pitches, 120m) ground up; they returned and redpointed the line five days later. The ascent comes on the heels of their new route, Centercourt (WI7+, 300m), graded the hardest pure icefall in Austria (read the January 22, 2010 NewsWire for more information).

Also on February 15, Enrico Bonino and Filippo Gonelli established a mixed climb on traditional gear called Drapeux d’enfer (WI5+/6 M5+, 3 pitches, 95m) on the new Curtains Wall in Valle d’Aosta, Italy.

Chris Parkin and Pete Harrison climbed a new route on February 16 in North Wales’ Cwm Llafar. Tora Bora (VIII,7/8, 7 pitches, 320m) climbs between Broken Ceasefire and Imminent Conflict on the popular Black Ladders. The crux offers “sustained climbing on torques, hooks and turf with adequate but hard-won gear.”

And Blair Fyffe and Iain Small were busy on Ben Nevis in Scotland. On February 18, the pair onsighted The Past is Close Behind (VIII,8, 6 pitches, 250m) in “full conditions” on the North Face of Carn Dearg.


Enrico Bonino on the first ascent of Drapeux d’enfer (WI5+/6 M5+, 3 pitches, 95m) on the new Curtains Wall in Valle d’Aosta, Italy. A month earlier, Bonino and three partners established Zero 70 (WI5/5+, 100m) just right of Drapeux d’enfer. [Photo] Filippo Gonnelli