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General Information

This climbing guide is a collection of selected routes (boulders, sport routes, trad climbs, aid routes, etc.). It is not the intention to cover all the climbing possibilites on Kvaløya, because, as the trained eye itself will see, those are endless. However, it is the clear intention that those selected will give you a good climbing experience, and being on the list, is a sure sign of quality. The selection will grow as time comes.

Conventions used on most maps and topos. For the detailed topos on multi-pitch trad routes, you may refer to this key (.pdf).

Information about the past, who lead us here, new routes, etc. The Archives is growing account on the not-so-technical side of climbing on Kvaløya.

The driving times given at each climbing area refers to the time driving from Tromsø.
This is not a general tourist guide,but this is. This is good start for knowing what's going on in Tromsø. You can reach Tromsø by means of every known public transportation vehicle except from train, so it's not hard getting here.

To get around in the Tromsø region using bus and boat, you'll find information in Norwegian at Ruteopplysningen, or call 177, but you are much more free using a car.

From Tromsø to Kvaløya you could either use public transport or car. Without a car you need to take the bus, nr. 3 (timetable) takes you all the way to Rekvik (on the far western end of the northern part of the island), passing all the most important climbing locations on the island, Bus nr. 10 (timetable) takes you first to the main sport climbing arena, Ersfjorden, and then sometimes further to Susannejord, which is about 3 km's short of Blåmannsvik dalen where you can start the approach to Hollenderan.

Having a car you basically follow road 862 towards the airpoirt in Tromsø, or any road that leads you there. Don't stop at the airport, but continue nortward and over the bridge to Kvaløya, as you leave the bridge you take left in the next cross and head south. Drive pass the community of Kvaløysletta, and take right in a cross 6 km's further south where there is a nice foodstore called Eide handel (where you can buy excellent ice-cream), some industry-type buildings, and a small harbor. Now your'e on road 57, drive over a very small hill, pass a church, and continue slowly (a lot of kids playing around here among the houses) further out towards Ersfjorden, you can turn left towards Sommarøya if you want to go to Brensholmen. When you are in Ersfjorden, you can either stay there and do some excellent sport climbing and bouldering, or take right in the crossing where it says Tromvik 31 km and pass; Blåmannsvik dalen, Blåmann, our most popular bouldering venue; Orblå, Grøtfjorden, and Gullknausen.

Information about the geology!

The weather in northern Norway is slightly unpredictable, and this place is located far north (at the same latitude as the northern tip of Alaska actually!), so it is important not to underestimate the weather - it can get seriously cold (especially when wet) even in the summer.
That said, and with good clothing in the backpack, the summers usually gives perfect climbing temperatures (around 60 days with an average temperature between 10 and 20° C), while friction addicts might prefer spring and autumn, and winters are usually not very cold (on average only 20 days per winter have an average temperature lower than -10° C).

From a meteorological viewpoint, the summer lasts from about mid May to end of August, and the sun surfaces day round (midnight sun) from 20'th May to 22'th July. The winter, on the other hand, lasts from about mid November to mid April, with the sun hiding below the horizon (polar night) between 25'th November to 17'th Januar. The nordic location makes the climbing quite special, during the summer you can climb at any time of the day, even bathing in sunshine at 03:30 in the morning on the north faces, while during winter you must be prepared to do must stuff in the light of your head-torch. But even during the darkest times we have a few hours of twilight, wich enables high activity level without fiddeling around in the dark.

The Meteorologisk institutt has a pretty accurate weather forecast for the region, but this meteogram is also very good.
But an advice is to not listen to the forecast, and just go! The worst thing that can happen is to get rained or snowed down, but if you stay in town because of a bad weather forecast, and the weather turns out to get pretty good, then all you can do is, well, hang around and get drunk. And that is an expensive business in Norway.

However, if the weather turns out as shit, and you no have nothing to do but surf the cafés downtown, then at least pay a visit to the café in the cellar of Tromsø Kunstforening at Muségata 2, just south of the centre and the Mack brewery. The café is run by two french who serve you the best coffe and pastry in town - with a smile.

As can be seen from the climate table above is May and June often the dryest months, while July and August on average are the warmest. Commonly there is a lot of snow in the mountains, which slowly melts away as the summer evolves, which means that July and August often are the best months for climbing on dry rock - after the heaviest snow melting period and before the autumn rain.

For the sport and trad climbing routes, we use the norwegian grading system. It begins at around 3 (very easy) and is open ended, the hardest routes in the country are 9'ish. You can look at the Alpinist conversion table taken from the American Alpine Club, where there also is a good general introduction to the art of grading climbs. This is a conversion table which includes the norwegian system.
Notice that the routes on Hollenderan may feel stiff for their grade, most of the routes stem from a period when 6+ was a very hard route.

For bouldering we try to use the Fontainbleau grading system, which also is an open ended scale beginning at about 4. We are using capital letters in the boulder grades to separate them from sport grades, that is 6C+ for example. See this conversion table for some clarification.

For aid routes we stick to the New wave aid rating, it is similar to the original aid rating at the very simplest grades:

Easy aid.No risk of a piece pulling out.
Moderate aid. Solid gear that's more difficult to place.
10-meter fall potential from tenuous placements, but without danger.
Hard aid.Many tenuous placements in a row; 15-meter fall potential; could require several hours for a single pitch.
A3 with dangerous fall potential.
Serious aid. 30-meter ledge-fall potential from continuously tenuous gear.
Even more serious, with even greater fall potential, where each pitch could take many hours to lead.
Extreme aid. Nothing on the entire pitch can be trusted to hold a fall.
A5 climbing with belay anchors that wonÕt hold a fall either.

For winter, ice, and alpine routes we try to combine a commitment rating with the technical rating (taken from Water Ice and Alpine Ice climbing grades), as discussed in Mountaineering; The freedom of the hills, and in the Alpinist article.
The commitment grade combines length, hazard, and overall challenges.

1 or 2 pitches near the car, but may need to be avoided during avalanche season.
Requires most of a day including the approach, which may require winter travel skills (possible avalanche terrain, placing descent anchors).
A multipitch route at higher altitude or remote location. Multi-hour approaches in serious alpine terrain.
A full-day climb in remote alpine terrain with a long approach, long technical descent, and objective dangers.
A long waterfall with the character of a remote alpine route; formerly required at least a day to complete, now often done faster. Significant alpine objective hazards.
Under discussion.
The most commiting routes on Kvaløya will probably be grade III or IV. In the neighbouring Lyngen there exists possibilities for grade V's.
The technical grade mirrors the most difficult pitch of the route, and carries with it a huge seasonal and yearly dependence. So bear in mind that what is one year grade 2 may the next year be 3 or 4.
Low angle ice; no tools required or Snow gullies and easy ridges.
Consistent 60° ice with possible bulges; good protection or Steep snow where two ice tools may be required but technical difficulties are short. Possible difficult cornice exit.
Sustained 70° with possible long bulges of 80°-90° reasonable rests and good stances for placing screws or Mixed ascents of moderate rock routes; icy gullies; sustained buttresses.
Continuous 80° ice fairly long sections of 90° ice broken up by occasional rests or Steep ice with short vertical steps or long pitches up to 70°, or mixed routes requiring advanced techniques.
Long and strenuous, with a ropelength of 85°-90° ice offering few good rests; or a shorter pitch of thin or bad ice with protection thatÕs difficult to place or Sustained ice to 80° or mixed climbs with linked hard moves. Climbs are difficult, sustained, and/or serious.
A full ropelength of near-90° ice with no rests, or a shorter pitch even more tenuous than 5. Highly technical or Vertical ice and highly technical mixed routes. Grade VI and above routes have exceptional overall difficulties.
As above, but on thin poorly bonded ice or long, overhanging poorly adhered columns. Protection is impossible or very difficult to place and of dubious quality or Multi-pitch routes with long sections of vertical or thin ice, or mixed routes with lots of highly technical climbing.
Under discussion.
For example, the combined grade for a typical Kvaløya winter route is probably around II-3. The snow passages that are met underways are "graded" by their steepness, i.e. 60-70° snow.
This file was last modified 2005-10-10