|The classic view of Stetind from the campground/car park to the Northwest, punters start from here.|
|The less commonly seen North Face of Stetind. 1392 straight from the sea. No place for punters.|
Climbing the South Pillar of Stetind was one of the best days of my climbing life. Although the crux pitches are not much easier than the hardest routes I’ve ever managed, the whole day went pretty smoothly. So I thought I’d write a ‘bluffers guide to climbing Stetind’, aimed very much at enthusiast punters, such as myself, with some tips and info to try and persuade those who want to give it a go but aren’t sure how they would fare, to go for it. Super-alpine Übermensch and sponsored heroes will obviously piss up it, and need not read any further (indeed that lot should stop arsing about and get themselves on terrifyingly massive North Face of Stetind!).
|The South Pillar - between shade and light - emerges between the clouds. The start is at the left end of the obvious grassy ledge system, the finish is the summit 13 pitches later.|
|Looking down to Dave seconding pitch 10, the first headwall pitch and perhaps the crux of the route.|
|Low on the approach, still in the trees.|
|Looking back across the boulderfield, where we went to right and got lost.|
|Excuse my pitiful artistic skills but it will probably make sense if you're there.|
|After the scary traverse scramble, crossing the moraine bowl, aiming for the curving ledge system that takes you to the start of the pillar on the skyline.|
|Typical climbing on the lower pillar, slabby cracks and corners. Dave on pitch 4 I think.|
|Me on the left-leaning thin crack. A little higher the crack meets the arete where a big step left takes you into an easier groove. Follow this to the Second Amfi. Photo: D. Smith.|
|Made it! Summit celebrations. Photo: D. Smith.|
|Dave signs the summit register.|
The descent is well described in the guidebook. On the summit we changed back into our approach shoes and roped up alpine style with one of our ropes, maybe 25 mtrs apart. Then we made sure there was at least two runners between us as we moved. This was easy and quick to arrange mainly using our double set of cams. The summit plateau narrows and begins to drop, you really couldn’t get lost even in cloud. There are a few step downs that require care but it’s not difficult. Soon it narrows down to a pavement-width ridge, sickeningly exposed but not difficult, and after a few metres of space walking along that you hit the bolted abseil point on the top of the “Mysosten Block”. You abseil 15 metres down the south side to a big ledge. From here we continued alpine style again, with much exposed but straightforward scrambling to the huge cairn on the top of Halls Fortopp, the obvious peak SE of the main summit. Here you can stop stressing-out, un-rope and collapse on the floor with relief; only (lots of) hiking now remains between you and your choice of celebratory beverage back at the car park/camp area.
|Dave about to balance across to the abseil point on the Mysosten Block.|
|Our rack being sorted out the next morning.|
- 10 Wallnuts, (size 1 to 10); our basic wires.
- 10 Metolius ultralight nuts; a second set of wires - lighter than standards ones and they rack very neatly.
- 6 Wild Country Superlight Rocks; these are amazing because they make even the Metolius nuts seem heavy, although with just one wire it's best not to look at them for too long after placing them.
- 12 quickdraws; three of these were slingdraws with tripled 60 cm slings - very useful. 8 were Edelrid 19G quickdraws which I was lucky enough to have been sent for review. They are very small but, man, are they light - weighing the same as about four or five of my normal quickdraws. They really were perfect on this route.
- 2 DMM Torque Nuts; mainly because being a punter I feel a bit naked without at least a couple of hexes.
- 2 Wild Country Rocks on Spectra; mainly because these are Dave’s lucky charms and he gets nervous without them regardless of how old they actually are and how worn the cord is!
- 5 DMM Dragon Cams, purple to blue (#1 to #5).
- 5 BD Camalots, purple to blue. BD and DMM sizing now matches so, in short, we had two of each mid-range cams.
- 4 Wild Country and DMM small cams - I think between #0 and #1.5 in Friend/4CU sizing.
- About 4 slings, 2 120s and 2 60s, and about the same number of locking krabs.
We probably could have had just two sets of nuts, and maybe only one of the bigger sized cams, but we used everything at some point and I would have been nervous having a significantly smaller rack. We’re lucky that between us we have a lot of lightweight gear - most of cams were racked on DMM phantoms for example - and by using the lightest option we had for everything, even though we took a lot of gear its still wasn’t horribly heavy.
For ropes we took two 60 mtr half ropes. Theoretically a skinny 60 single would work fine too and be light, but if for some reason you had to retreat back down the pillar it would be a ‘mare. I also like being tied to two ropes on stuff that is hard for me, but that’s being British I guess. Finally, in a very un-British move I wore my crack-gloves and Dave taped up. Whilst this isn’t really necessary, particularly for easier climbing, on long climbs I think I climb a lot quicker when taped-up. It also just helps your hands survive the week if you are climbing lots of granite every day.
|Me reading the descent description in the midnight gloom. Photo D. Smith.|
We both took the food we thought we’d want/need and 2 ltrs each of energy drink. We drank most of one 2 ltr bag on the approach and then took the second with us on the route. I tend to drink a lot, but as it wasn’t too hot this was enough until we got to streams on the lower descent. We left one rucksack and our walking poles at the gearing up point and took the other with us on the route, meaning the leader could lead without a pack. I think this system worked well; the second carried the pack, a lightweight 30 ltr model. It held two pairs of shoes, two sets of waterproofs, the drink, some snacks and some ab tat for emergencies. It wasn’t bad to climb with at all but leading pack-less was also great.
We were doing the descent in the late evening having summited at about 2130. We were too late in the year to see midnight sun, but even in at times cloudy weather we didn’t need or want headtorches. Even walking back down through the forest at about 1 am, it was still light enough to see the path.