Disputed First Winter Ascent of Aid Line Claimed on Troll Wall

Posted on: February 6, 2013

Andy Kirkpatrick climbing Suser gjennom Harryland on Norway's Troll Wall (1742m). Kirkpatrick, Tormod Granheim and Aleksander Gamme made the first technical winter ascent of this long aid line in January. "Winter ascents" technically occur between December 21 and March 21, regardless of conditions. [Photo] Andy Kirkpatrick collection

Last month, Andy Kirkpatrick, Tormod Granheim and Aleksander Gamme made the first technical winter ascent of a long aid line on the 1742m Troll Wall, Europe's tallest vertical rock face. Their climb was the fourth overall ascent of Suser gjennom Harryland (VI A3 5.10b, 18 pitches, Hagen-Ostbo, 1996), which tops out on the shorter, far left side of the wall.

In September of 2011, Kirkpatrick climbed the line solo, but retreated one pitch below the topout due to lack of water and an uneasy feeling. Since then, he had wanted to finish the climb in the winter. Four years earlier, Norwegian climbers Sigurd Backe, Rolf Bae, Sigurd Felde and Trym A. Saland attempted to make the first winter ascent, but failed to complete the line before spring, topping out four days after the equinox. "Winter ascents" technically occur between December 21 and March 21, regardless of conditions.


"They had worse weather than us, but also much weather that was 10 degrees Celsius warmer and much more daylight—plus they were all climbers!" says Kirkpatrick. Granheim and Gamme both have limited climbing experience; Gamme has climbed Everest but never lead a trad route (only top rope and indoor climbing) and Granheim has more experience but never climbed a big wall.

This January, Kirkpatrick teamed up with Granheim and Gamme and the trio spent 14 days on the climb, during which Kirkpatrick taught them big-wall techniques and gave them a taste of leading. "[The] most alarming moment was realising Aleks didn't know how to place a cam while leading pitch 11!" Kirkpatrick wrote in a trip report. The line was climbed in capsule style; they fixed ropes from a camp at Pitch 5 and Pitch 10, allowing them to rappel back to their bivy at the end of the day.

Kirkpatrick rappelling the Troll Wall after a long day climbing and fixing ropes. [Photo] Andy Kirkpatrick collection

Suser gjennom Harryland is a technical and steep climb but mostly safe aside from some loose features to avoid throughout each pitch. The Troll Wall is mostly climbed in the winter due to the instability of the rock that notoriously falls apart. In 2006, a rockfall event occurred with such force it measured 2.5 on the Richter scale. Kirkpatrick, Granheim and Gamme successfully completed Suser gjennom Harryland without trouble, enduring -20 degrees Celsius and windy and snowy conditions during their last two days of climbing.

Sources: Andy Kirkpatrick, supertopo.com

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Awesome pictures! Good luck and be safe!


2013-02-08 12:55:12


Best of luck! Let us know how it went when you get back.


2013-02-08 00:15:23
andy kirkpatrick

Cheers Gwen - even I get confused, but maybe Tom think's I soloed it as well??? Hope to go back and try Arch Wall, but to avoid confusion, will film whole ascent with a 4 Gopros (so I get 360 degree footage - day and night) and stick it on Youtube for all to see : )

2013-02-07 21:58:18

tcosgri and Andy,

We've clarified the headline—it certainly could be misunderstood. Thanks for your close attention!

As an aside, Alpinist.com defines a "line" as a climb that does not reach the summit, while a "route" does. A "new route" must consist of more than 50% previously unclimbed terrain; less than 50% is a "new variation."

Cheers from a snowy Vermont,

Gwen Cameron Managing Editor

2013-02-07 20:15:29
andy kirkpatrick

Cheers Tom - agree totally, and say as much in blog writen when we got down andy-kirkpatrick.com/blog/view/winter_ascent_of_suser_gjennon_harryland_troll_wall_norway

2013-02-07 19:46:26

The title of the article is extremely misleading -this was not the first winter ascent of the Troll Wall. The Troll Wall has been climbed numerous times in winter, including 2 first ascents. The route Mr. Kirkpatrick climbed, Suser gjennom Harryland, doesn't even climb to the top of the Troll Wall - it climbs a pillar which tops out about half way up the Troll Wall. Saying that this was an ascent of Europes biggest wall is kind of like saying that you climbed El Capitan when you only climbed up to Heart Ledge. It must have been a fun trip though! The winter plum that is still waiting is a winter solo ascent - to the top! Credit should go where credit is due.

2013-02-07 17:31:34
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