If you are in search for a quality climbing in Scandinavia, the safe bet is to go to Norway. There are all types of good climbing from alpine climbing to long rock routes, bigwalls to sport climbing and superb waterfall ice climbing and ski mountaineering.
Scandinavia's highest mountains lie in Jotunheimen in middle Norway. While eastern Jotunheimen is less steeply formed, Hurrungane in western Jotunheimen sports some really impressive looking mountains. Lyngen in Northern Norway and Kebnekaise and Sarek districts of Swedish Lappland offer also worthwhile alpine routes.
Good rock climbing is found in several places. Romsdal in western Norway is among the better-known areas. It is home for 1100 meter high Trollväggen (Troll Wall), one of the greatest big walls in a World. There are several other good locations in the the Norway, for example Kvaløa and Lofoten far north and Hemsedal and Innerdalen in southern part of the country. The mountaineus areas of Northern Sweden also offer long alpine rock climbs. Beside big scale rock climbing, gragging is available in many places in all of the countries.
Considering the geography it is probably no great surprise that there's some quality ice climbing to be found in Scandinavia. While Finland and Sweden both have some decent ice climbing areas (Stora Sjöfallet in Swedish Lappland for example can hold its own in comparison to internationally much better-known areas), it is once again Norway where the best climbing is found. Actually Norway can well be called ice climbing Eldorado, as world-class ice climbs are in abundance. And it does not matter what type of climbing you are looking for, from moderate mountainside climbs to WI7 or M10 horror shows, it's all there. Most popular areas are Rjukan, Romsdal, Hemsedal, Valdres and southern Jotunheimen in the southern part and Spansdalen and Lyngen in the north.
Climbing in the Scandinavian mountains requires sort of exploring mind as often very little information is available about many longer mountain routes. Same often goes for other types of climbing.
As for grading, no alpine grading is consistently used. However, some areas (such as Romsdal) use two-part grading system that is supposedly based on old UIAA (Welzenbach) alpine grading, the newer version of which is known as Ifas of (French) alpine grade.
For rock climbing, each country have their own variant of UIAA rock grade. Finnish variant is considered slightly harder that the other two. That being said, the difference is not too great. Use of French rock grading seems to be spreading when grading rock climbs, especially for very difficult routes.
For ice climbs grading system varies. Traditionally Norwegians have used Scottish grade. However, grades are known to have some variance between different areas even if the scale is supposed to be the same (e.g. Hemsedal and Romsdal are supposed to have stiffer grades than Rjukan). In current years the use on increasingly global WI-grade has spread to Norway as well. This has created a mess, as it is often impossible to know whether WI5 means WI-grade 5 or Scottish 5 (the latter of which is easier).
Most of the Finland is very flat. And even the more hilly areas are very rounded, so there's neither alpine nor longer rock or ice climbing to be found. Longest routes are two pitches, and majority of those can be climbed in a single long pitch.
Rock is mostly granite with numerous cracks and slabs. Because of the rock type, holds are often reasonably small in comparison with some other rock types. Because of this, most easier and middle grade (up until around 6-) climbs are either slabby or vertical, overhanging routes are typically difficult (Fin 6 or more).
Olhava in the eastern part of South Finland is considered to be the best crag. It is traditional area, bolts are mostly scarce and far between unless there is no possibilities for traditional protection. There are, however some newer sport routes. Longest routes are two pitches. Otherwise rock climbing is found on several boulders and crags, most of them less than 20m tall. The Åland also has good rock climbing on crags and boulders.
Because of northern latitude, the winter is well suited for ice climbing. However, due to flatness, there aren't that many ice falls. Korouoma is southern Lappland is by far the best place. It has several routes up to around 60 meters high between grade WI3 and WI6. Because of its location up north, the season is long. While not actually in Finland, there are several multi-pitch ice falls along the road between Kilpisjärvi and Skibotn.
In southern Finland ice climbing season lasts usually from from December to March. Further north in Lappland season is considerabbly longer lasting often from start of November until early May. On the other hand, some rock routes in Southern Finland are often climbed quite early in the season (often April, some routes even earlier).
Finland has it's own rock grade. Additionally French grades are increasingly used for new (sport) routes. No ice fgrade is consistently used, if grading is used, then scale is usually WI-grade.
Important note: Some of the places listed here may have access problems. So before going climbing any of the places listed here, check that it isn't prohibited.
Korouoma is the mecca of Finnish ice climbing. Korouoma canyon is located in northern Finland, between Rovaniemi and Posio. Due to its northern location, the season is long, often lasting from early November to late April or early May. However, days are short, especially in December and January, and the weather can be very cold (-30°C not uncommon). Because of this, most favorable conditions are usually found later in the winter (from end of February until spring).
Walk down into canyon from the parking lot is usually easy, as there is good path (no skis usually necessary). In the Canyon there's rentable cottage. Other options are camping. Obviously it is also possible to get accommodation in Posio or Rovaniemi.
There are several falls with the height up to 60m. The most popular falls are Ruskeavirta (several routes up to two pitches and between WI4 and WI6) and easier Mammutti (starting at around WI3) and Jaska Jokunen. These are also closest to the road end (and cottage in the canyon). There are several other falls on the Canyon, further away from the road end, but many of them see very little climbing activity.
There are few rock routes as well, but rock climbing in Korouoma is not particularly popular as rock quality is not very good. Furthermore, there's also no real shortage of mosquitos.
Region around Tampere has several crags for rock climbing with Ketaranvuori and Mustalaisvuori (Viitapohja) considered the best. None of the crags are high enough to have multi-pitch routes, the highest routes are about 25m. Most routes fall in between Finnish grades 5 and 7. The area has both sport and trad climbing. The easiest routes are typically trad though. In addition, there are several boulders.
During the winter best ice climbing of the region is found in Toriseva near Virrat, if the artificial fall exists. Other than that Helvetinjärvi (few routes up to around 25m mostly around WI3) and Kalliojärvi (very easy) in Ruovesi have natural ice falls. Also, just behind the Euromarket in Koivistonkylä (Tampere) there is wide ice boulder suitable for training.
Mustavuori is generally the first place where rock climbing is feasible during the spring. In some years season there may start as early as end of February or early March. Usually ice climbing season lasts from December to March.
Valkeala has plenty of the best climbing places in Finland. Olhava is considered to be the best rock crag. It is tradional area, bolts are mostly scarce and far between unless there is no possibilities for traditional protection. There are, however some newer sport routes. Longest routes are two pitches. During the winter Pyörämäki (Rasi) and Linnavuori are the best places.
Norway is by far the best bet for those in search for a quality climbing in Scandinavia. There are all types of good climbing from alpine climbing to long rock routes, bigwalls to sport climbing.
Scandinavia's highest mountains lie in Jotunheimen in middle Norway. While eastern Jotunheimen with the Scanidinavia's highest peaks is less steeply formed, Hurrungane in western Jotunheimen sports some really impressive looking mountains. Best known goal in Hurrungane is Store Skagalstølstinden (often called Storen, 2405m, the 3rd highest mountain in Scandinavia), which has a easiest route of a healthy AD- (with short section of Nor 3+). The area has all types of alpine routes from general mountaineering to long rock routes and technical ice and mixed routes.
Propably the best kept secret lies far up the north. The Lyngen peninsula near Tromsø looks unspectacular on the map. I mean with the highest peak of 1833 meters, there is certainly nothing to write home about. Wrong. Lyngen mountains start literally from the sea, so the actual altitude difference is quite healthy. Lyngen sports great possibilities for (winter) alpinist in search of snow and ice. Best of all, many of the routes have practically no approach at all as you just have to park your car and start climbing. On the downside, weather is unstable and days are very short during the winter climbing season.
Good rock climbing is found in several places. Romsdal in western Norway is among the better-known areas. It is also home for 1100 meter high Trollväggen (Troll Wall) is a one of the greatest big walls in a World. There are several other good locations in the the Norway, for example Kvaløa and Lofoten far north and Hemsedal and Innerdalen in southern part of the country.
Considering the geography it is probably no great surprise that there's some quality ice climbing to be found in Scandinavia. Actually Norway can well be called ice climbing Eldorado, as world-class ice climbs are in abundance. And it does not matter what type of climbing you are looking for, from moderate mountainside climbs to WI7 or M10 horror shows, it's all there. Most popular areas are Rjukan, Romsdal, Hemsedal, Valdres and southern Jotunheimen in the southern part and Spansdalen and Lyngen in the north.
Arctic Norway doesn't have very high peaks even on Scandinavian standards. There are some impressive peaks though, e.g. Stetind, Otentinden and several peaks in the Lyngen alps. Since many of the peaks start literally from the see, even moderate height can mean a very considerable distance from bottom to top. Despite its location far north, well inside Artic Circle, the Weather of Artic Norway is nowhere near as cold as one might expect. During the winter the area has very little daylight though, which makes climbing less convenient. The flipside is, that during the summertime there's really no shortage of daylight. The coastal Norway is rainy though.
During the summer, Northern Norway has both classic mountaineering and plenty of multi-pitch alpine rock climbing. For mountaineering, Lyngen, Stetind in Tysfjord and Lofoten are probably the best choices. For alpine rock climbing, Lofoten, Stetind (Tysfjord), Kvaløy and Blåmannen are the best known choices.
Pretty much all sorts of winter climbing can be found in Arctic Norway:
Mostly very little is written about climbs found on these areas, but take my word for it, ice fall climbs are not in short supply in this area. There are numerous spots with short falls with easy access as well as plenty of long routes (like 700m Skredbekken in Sørdalen or 450m Henrikafossen in Spansdalen) of various levels of difficulty.
Alta-area seems to have several ice falls. No first hand experience, but at least the season should be long there and based on their web topo, there appear to be reasonable selection of routes. On the down side, not much of daylight during the winter months.
Nord-Troms constists of many areas around Lyngenfjord. The areas includes established areas such as Kvalø and Lyngen Peninsula. Besides of rock climbs of Kvalø, the other areas are almost solely visited during the winter.
Areas around Kåfjord. Kåfjord is a very varied place having several big and very difficult routes, as well as mid-grade and easy routes.
Loads of ice falls on the left side of the road when driving from Kilpisjärvi towards Skibotn (E8), all readily visible from the road. Access may be somewhat tedious, as it involves crossing the river. Route lengths up to 300m.
Lyngen peninsula, located in northern Norway, near the city of Tromsø, is probably the best kept secret of the Scandinavian climbing areas. Lyngen looks unspectacular on the map. I mean with the highest peak of 1833 meters (Jiekkevarri) is certainly nothing to write home about. Wrong. Lyngen mountains start literally from the sea, so the actual altitude difference is quite healthy. Lyngen sports great possibilities for (winter) alpinist in search of snow and ice. Best of all, many of the routes have practically no approach at all as you just have to park your car and start climbing.
Lyngen peninsula is 82km long and 25 km wide. It is cut almost is half by deep fjord in the middle. Lyngseidet, the major village of the peninsula is located on the eastern shore, at the end of fjord. Nearest major city is Tromsø, located on an island to the west of Lyngen peninsula. However, Skibotn, Oteren and Lyngseidet are better suited as bases as they are located much closer to the climbs. Conveniently road circles almost complete peninsula, because of this many of the routes can be started directly from the car.
Atlantic ocean gives Lyngen very maritime weather; summers are cool and often rainy. As the peninsula lies at 70° lat., the sun never sets for two months during the summer. On the other hand, during the mid winter, there's only about 4 hours of light in the daytime. Golf stream brings plenty of precipitation year round, which generates Lyngen one of the very few places in Nordic countries where cumulated firn can be found.
Conditions are good for winter snow and ice climbing during February and March, when there's already about 10 hours of light and temperatures tend to keep couple of degrees below freezing during the days. Because of close proximity Golf stream, temperatures are nowhere near as extreme as one might expect from its locations. In April daytime temperatures are often above zero, which often generate acute lawine danger (ever present danger otherwise as well, there have been fatal accidents). Another suitable season for snow and ice climbing is during the autumn, especially end of October and start of November. Summer climbing is Lyngen is not as popular as winter climbing as rock quality is mostly rather poor.
Lyngen has several sharp peaks and numerous small glaciers on both sides of the fjord. The highest peak is Jiekkevarri (1833m), popular among trekkers and ski mountaineers, but it is not that interesting for the climbers. Best known climbs are probably west face of Store Kjostind and south face of Istinden (1505m) in Kjostindane, Tomastind (1556m) and Store Lakselvtind (1616m) in Lakselvtindane, Guhkegaisa (1560m) and piqturesque Piggtinden (1505m).
Best opportunities for ice fall climbing is found on the east shore along the road leading south from Lyngseidet. Height varies between 20-300 meters and steepness between 60°-90°. The most well-known fall is Iselvfosset (WI5, 70-90°, 220 m, 6 pitches).
No real climbing guidebook is available.
Kvaløa island west of Tromsø in northern Norway offers good quality rock climbing on granite walls. Hollendaren group has granite walls up to 300 meters high and has several multi-pitch rock climbs. While its normal route along East ridge is easy (Nor I/II, 2-3h), Blåmann (1044m) on the other hand has very difficult 400-450m high north face, that is one of the hardest climbs in Norway. There are several routes with Atlantis propably the most classic line (10 pitches, A1/A2, NOR 7-8 (f6c-7b+).
During the winter there is winter alpine routes of moderate length to be found, especially in Grøtfjord area. Most of the winter climbs in the area are on snowed/iced up rock, not on massive ice falls. Difficulty of the routes varies considerably depending on conditions. Kvaløa guidebook uses two-part WI grade to grade those, however grades seem to be very stiff (probably graded on optimum conditions). Be sure to bring loads of rock gear as there's likely no use to ice crews few stubbies aside.
Midt-Troms area has the biggest ice falls in Northern Norway. Especially Skredbekken in Sørdalen (600m, WI5) and Henrikafossen in Spansdalen (450m, WI4) are good alternatives to those in search of large scale ice climbs.
Senja is large island lot of it is mountainous. The peaks are not very high even on North-Norwegian standards with Breidtinden (1010m) being the highest. However, many of the peaks are steep and rugged. Traditionally Senja has not been visited a lot by climbers but during the recent years it has been visited by some climbers who have put up host of ice and mixed routes.
Signaldalen is the first major valley to the south from Skibotndal, located at the end of Storfjord, to the east of Lyngen Peninsula. The undisputed king of the area is Otentinden (1356m), sometimes called the Matterhoirn of the North. Despite of its mighty look, normal route from SW side is not too difficult (Nor II, alpine ~PD(?)). East face on the other hand, is considered to be the hardest climb in Lyngen area. During the winter Signaldalen also has ice fall climbing.
Tamokdalen is located to the south of Skibotn and Signaldalen, along R75. Valley bottom lies at around 200m above sea level and the highest peaks rise to around 1600m. There are several ice falls on both sides of the valley, most are easily visible to road with not too long approaches. Falls on the east side are usually closer to road and mainly around 100m long while west side of the valley has also much longer routes (up to seven (?) pitches).
Sørdalen has some of the biggest ice falls in the Arctic Norway.
Spansdalen is located 20km north of Bjaerkvik, about an hour away from Riskgränsen. There are some 30 ice falls with lengths varying between one and seven pitches. Most obvious route of the area is 450m Henrikkafossen (WI4 or Sco VI,5).
Lofoten, or the Magig Islands as the area is sometimes referred to, locates in northern Norway, westwards from Narvik. The area is a collection of five larger and five smaller islands. Most climbing takes place on the largest island Austvagoy. Moskenesoy and Nordre Austvågoy also have plenty of worthwhile climbing.
Weather leaves a lot to be desired, as it rains a lot. May and June are the driest months with average precipitation of 40mm. July and August in turn are the warmest months, then average temperature is +12°C. July and August in turn are the warmest months, then average temperature is +12°C. For rock climbing June, July and August are considered to be the best months. During that time there's also plenty on daylight due to Lofoten's location far inside the Arctic Circle. With luck rock climbing season can last from mid May to end of September. Despite the northern location, winter conditions are not the most reliable as Gulf Stream brings in warm weather. January and February are the coldest months. Even then the mean temperature is no colder than -1°C.
The area is best known among the climbers for long and adventurous traditionally protected rock routes, it is known as one of the best places fr multi-pitch rock climbing anywhere. Despite low elevation, many climbs start practically from the sea so several of the routes have hundreds of meters of climbing. Rock is generally gray granite and mostly sound. Lofoten is strictly trad, there is no sport climbing. Be sure to bring half ropes at least 50m long.
But summer rock climbing is not all Lofoten is about, besides there is also both summer and winter mountaineering and ice climbing during the winter. Especially Vågakallen and Austre Austvågoy (eg. Rulten) have worthwhile alpine routes. For Scottish type winter climbing Lofoten has great potential. However, due to uncertain weather and limited daylight, not much is known about winter climbing in the Lofoten.
Gradings used in Lofoten are , well, interesting. Obvious choice is Norwegian rock grade that is used for rock climbs. However, being that Webster is American, he uses Yosemite Decimal System as alternative grading scale. TRockfax in turn, being British, use British trad grades, and only those, not giving local Norwegian grades as well. Most alpine climbs are not graded all, except for some routes that have been graded in Lennon's book. With that, it is not at all clear whether the grades used are pitch or route grades. Some routes have been graded with Ifas system. For winter climbs, no grading system is consistently used.
Stetind is located close to Tysfjorden, between Tysfjor in SE and Erfjorn in NW. Nearest cities are Narvik in north and Bodö in south. Original Se ridge route is usually climbable from mid June to September. Sydpillaren is usually snow free from mid July. Main peaks of the area are:
Climbing mecca in Lofoten is Austvågoy. Henningsvaer, Kalle and Svolvaer provide comfortable access to climbs. Most popular rock climbs are Presten, Svolvaergeita, Pillaren, Pianorakken (up to 100m) and Galdafveggen (95m). Vågakallen (942m) is the highest and most important mountain.
Nordre Austvågoy is not really a separate island. However it is remote, rugged and wild. Many of the peaks here are very alpine in nature.
Peaks located to the north of Trofllfjorden can be approached from Laupstad, Eide or Skinvallen. This area known as Raftsundfjällen has several peaks with routes around Nor 2 or 2+ and plenty of steep snow. Best known peaks are Higravtinden (1161m) and Geitgaljen (1084m).
Areas located to the south of Trollfjorden are logistically more challenging, as they are best approached from the sea by a boat. Here lie Trolltindane with Store Trolltind (1045m), Trakta (980m), Korsnestinden (883m) and Rulten (1035m). Many consider Rulten to be the finest mountain in Lofoten. Trakta is one of the hardest mountain sin Norway.
Probably the best known climbing destination on Moskenesoy island is Reinesvaet. Villages Moskenes, Sörvågen and Reine can serve as bases.
Central Norway has several famous climbing areas. For mountain climbing probably the best known areas are Jotunheimen, especially Hurrungane, Romsdal (mostly on rock) ans Sunnmøre Alps. For rock climbing, there are several superb places, including Romsdal, Innerdalen in Nordmøre, located just north of Romsdal and Hemsedal.
During the winter the area is true ice climbers paradise. Hemsedal is probably best known of the ares in central part of the country. However, several other superb destinations are also found in Central Norway including Laerdal, Sogndal, Utladal, Ottadal and Årdal. Also Romsdal has superb ice falls and also more general alpine winter climbing. Winter climbing is naturally also available in Jotunheimen, where also ski mountaineering is rather popular.
Cluster of areas located further inland. The areaas are separeted from more westernly areas by long valley system running from Sunndalsøra to Lillehammer. The highest peaks of the area are to be found in Dovrefjell and Rondane, towards the SE. Generally the peaks in this part of the country are rounder and than further west and the the local relief is also not as great, as the peaks are located further form the sea. By large the areas are more suited to ski touring than alpine climbing. Best known climbing destination is Innerdalen/Sunndalen.
Romsdal on the west coast of Norway is probably the most famous alpine rock climbing area in Scandinavia. Although the mountains arent nearly as high as the mountains in Jotunheimen, they are steep and are located very close to sea. Natural border of the area in the north are Langfjorden and Romsdalsfjorden, in the west Sunmøre Alps, in the south Dovre-Tafjord and in the east lake Eikesdalen.
As there are virtually no walking ascents in the main mountain groups, there are also very few huts. Accommodation is mainly in the cities or camping in the valleys. Some routes are so long that bivouac is necessary for most parties.
Romsdal is home to some of the longest and most serious rock climbs in Europe. Around 1100 meters high Troll Wall of Trollryggen (1742m) is one of the true big walls of the world and has several very difficult multi-day climbs. There are several other large-scale rock routes on Trolltindane. Other popular peaks include Store Vengetind (1852m), Romsdalshorn (1550m) and Mongenjura (1316m). Best time for summer climbing is between May and August when there's no actual darkness. Like is often the case in Norway, the area does not have very predictable weather. Also, there have been huge rock falls on Troll wall.
V/WI6 IV/WI6 III V <<more>>.
Jotunheimen (meaning Home of the Giants) is without a doubt the most famous mountain area in Scandinavia. In ancient Norwegian mythology the gods lived in Åsgard, the humans in idgard, and the bad giants - in Jotunheimen. Jotunheimen is located in the middle of southern Norway and is the area where the highest mountains in Scandinavia are located.
Altough the mountains in Jotunheimen are not that high when compared to those in the Alps, Jotunheimen has a lot to offer climbers. The area has everything from easy alpine routes to serious routes of 15 pitches and more. The altitude difference from valleys to the peaks is considerable as valley-altitude is typically between 400-1400 meters. Jotunheimen has many glaciers, biggest of them are found on the western area. Also, superb ice fall climbing is found in Jotunheimen (especially in Laerdal and Utladalen) on spectacular long icefalls if the weather is cold enough for them to freeze properly.
The routes in Jotunheimen are usually substantially less frequented than most popular areas in the Alps. Downside is unstable climate, as Hurrungane has some miserable weather. <<more>>.
Area between Sognefjord in the north and Hardangerviddsa in the south. The area does not have 2000m peaks or peaks that would be otherwise famous. In fact, many of the peaks are not particularly alpine, as their tops tend to ne rather flat. However, some of the paeaks, particualrly those close to the fjords have huge steep falls and specatacular waterfalls.
Hemsedal is located high in the scenic Hallingdal Valley, between Oslo and Bergen. Additionally, it is close to many of Norway’s other major attractions, including Sognefjord and Jotunheimen. It is one of Scandinavia’s largest winter destinations, popular for its beautiful scenery, reliable snow conditions, and pristinely groomed slopes, affording fantastic skiing. Because of this, the area has well developed tourism infrastructure.
Visitors to Hemsedal can access the resort by road, or by rail/air followed by a bus transfer (Fagernes airport is some 130km away). From Oslo it's about three hours drive. From Bergen access Hemsedal by car along Highway seven until Gol, and then take highway 52 from Gol to Hemsedal (30km, 0,5h). The distance between Bergen and Hemsedal is 273km. It is possible to access Sognefjord from Hemsedal valley along Rv53 and E16 (Hemsedal-Lærdal-Flåm 127km, 1hr 40 min).
During the summer Hemsedal offers traditional rock climbing on good quality gneiss. Climbs are mostly between three and 10 pitches long and difficulties between IV-VII.
Due to it's location in the heart of the vast mountain massif of central Norway, Hemsedal enjoys a cold and stable winter climate giving reliable ice climbing conditions from December through to Easter. The valley walls hereabouts are liberally streaked with long frozen waterfalls (or "fossen"). Hemsedal is one of the most traditional and best-known ice climbing centers in Norway (although not as popular as Rjukan), with a variety of possibilities from short training venues to very difficult climbs. Some of the routes are fairly long, with the best known climbs in the grades WI4 and higher. The most famous climb in the valley is Hydnefossen (160m, WI5)
From Hemsedal you can get to Gol in about half an hour (30km). Best known climbs here are found in Golsjuvet, a canyon filled with single pith ice (WI 4 upwards) and very difficult mixed climbs.
Gol (half an hour), Valdres (1-3h) and Laerdal (1,5-2h) are all reasonably close (close enough for one day visits).
There's no real guidebook for ice climbing in Hemsedal. However, there's some sort of guidebook (in Norwegian) - that doesn't give grades, available at Skandinavist høyfjellutstyr climbing store located on the main street of Hemsedal. If ice grade is used, it is usually Norwegian variant of Scottish grade. However, Hemsedal grades are known to be somewhat stiffer than Rjukan grades even though grading system is supposed to be the same.
Laerdal is continuation of Sognefjord, located some 70km to the west from Hemsedal. Laedal is located some 70 km west from Hemsedal. The area consists of impressive valleys with astounding number of ice falls. There are some great long and sustained routes there from WI4 and upwards in grade. Laerdal is accessible from Hemsedal valley along Rv53 and E16 (Hemsedal-Lærdal-Flåm 127km, 1hr 40 min)
Climate in Laerdal is much warmer than in Hemsedal, although the distance is over Hemsedalsfjellet along rv53 quite short (note that the road can be closed due to snow in winter). Strikingly different from Hemsedal, there is very little snow to complicate approaches. However, warm climate make season shorter than in Hemsedal and conditions can vary greatly between seasons.
Information about the climbs in Laerdal is generally scarce, even in Norwegian standards. Routes in Laerdal have alpine feel to them, do not expect to see many other climbers, much less fixed gear or ready rappelling anchors. Be sure to bring double ropes. Rock gear might also be beneficial for some routes. The area has huge potential, not nearly all routes have been climbed at all. There are also number of short routes, some of them located right next to road.
Grading is somewhat of a mess, really. Both traditional Norwegian (based on Scottish system) grades or WI grades are used, and it is not necessarily obvious which one is used. That being said, Laerdal has a reputation of Norwegian grades to be stiff, so there isn't big difference between Norwegian and WI grades. Article in Climbing (1994) used two-part WI-grade.
The best known climbs are:
Valdres area is located around Fagernes. There are several places where ice climbs can be found. Probably the best place is Tavadalen with stunning ice (WI 3/4 up to WI6) and usually 3 or 4 pitches located very close to road. Fagenes is located some 130km from Hemsedal (via Gol) so the ice climbing areas are accessible from Hemsedal as a day trip.
While generally not nearly as well-known among the climbers as Central and Arctic parts of the country, Southern Norway also has some quality climbing. The best known area in southern part of the country is Rogaland, located close to the city of Kristiansand. The area is mostly of interest for rock climbers as Setesdal has some impressive climbs. Particularly well known is Kjerag with 1000m high vertical routes.
During the winter there are some ice climbs, although the season is shorter than in more northern locations. Some of the ice climbs are stupendous in scale, perhaps most imposing being Strandhogg in Kjerag (800m, WI6+, M5+,A0).
From climber's point of view, Rjukan hides its beauties. The main valley has a droopy, slack-shouldered look to it, and although the local peak, Gaustatoppen (1883m), is famous for its views of the rest of Norway, it is a tedious, whale-like hill with nothing much on it of interest to a mountaineer. Fortunately, increasing number of nordic climbers have looked beyond the obvious and Rjukan now competes with the more established Hemsedal as a center for quality ice climbing.
The large number of good climbs at all difficulty levels ranging from WI3 to WI7 and M10 and lengths from 20m to 17 pitches, often short or non-existent walk-ins, a good tourist infrastructure, guaranteed climbing for most of the winter, and a local population that seems to welcome and encourage ice climbers, all mean that Rjukan easily deserves its four Johnson points.
Due to Norways position in northern Europe and its exposure to the North and Arctic seas it produces excellent conditions for ice climbing and a long season. The first routes in Rjukan are climbable from late October (those high on Gaustatoppen) and there are many routes still in great condition (those on the north facing side of the valley) until early April. Conditions are generally considered to be at their best in February.
Making sense of grading for Rjukan is not too easy. Rockfax guidebook uses WI-grades, whereas older Haukåsveen guide used Norwegian variant of Scottish grade. To make matters worse, I've seen several websites using prefix WI in combination of Norwegian grade (in some cases Norwegian grade has even been written in arabic numbers which makes it look exactly like WI-grade). However, WI grade WI5 is supposed to be clearly more difficult than Norwegian V. Rjukan grades (using Nowegian grade) are commonly thought to be a tad softer than Hemsedal and Romsdal grades even if the system is the same.
The best known area in southern part of the country is Rogaland, located close to the city of Kristiansand. The area is mostly of interest for rock climbers as Setesdal has some impressive climbs. Particularly well known is Kjerag with 1000m high vertical routes.
Kebnekaise area is the best goal for alpine climbing in Sweden. Sarek is another alpine destination. For ice climbing, probably the best place in Sweden in Stora Sjöfallet in northern Sweden. There are several long routes (up to 9 pitches). Also Abisko area has ice climbs.
Kebnekaise group if the northern Sweden has over 200 distinct tops, four of them rise above 2000m. The area is heavily glaciated with around 40 glaciers. Summer season is in July and August and the peak of winter season around eastern. Approach from Nikkaluokta takes one day (25km, 19km if boat is used) or few minutes by helicopter. Kebnekaise Fjällstation (670m) is the base for normal routes of Kebnekaise. For several more technical routes, base camp close to Tarfala lake (1100m, 6-7km from Fjällstation) is a better starting point.
Besides the highest top Kebnekaise (2107m), Tuolpagorni (1694m) and Kaskasapakte (2043m) are among the most interesting climbing targets. The area has easy mountaineering on the normal routes of Kebnekaise (Västra Leden and more difficult Östra Leden), more difficult snow/ice climbs (i.e. Pallins Korridor, Halspasset) and several long rock climbs (Siluetten of Tuolpagorni). During the winter, the area offers ice fall climbing and good ski mountaineering.
Sarek national park is located northern Sweden. It is the wildest and least accessible mountain area of Scandinavia. There is no established hut system and only very few bridges over numerous rivers. It is at least two days walk from the road end to the heart of Sarek. There are more than 250 distinct summits, 87 of which rise above 1800m and eight above 2000m. Most famous mountains include Sarektjåkka (Stortoppen, 2089m), Akka 2015m and Bierikpakte. Although only few of the summits cannot be reached without actual climbing, the area has several worthwhile climbs. During the winter the area is notorious of horrible weather.
Stora Sjöfallet, located just north of Sarek, has ice climbs that vary in length between 1 and 9 pitches (Nästan Alpint, WI3). The area is best known for multi-pitch climbs with classics Greven (WI3, 7 pitches) and Grevinnan (WI4, 5 pitches). Although the area is located far north, the season is not as long as one might consider, as most climbs face south.