Sunday, 20 April 2014

Lofoten - Ristinden South gully

A slightly early return from Lofoten due to 4 days of foul weather forecast for the end of my trip means I can now start to post some updates from the last 3 weeks. In slightly illogical fashion I am going to start with the last day first...

Last year I had spotted some lines on Ristinden, an 850m high peak near Leknes, but ran out of time to go exploring. This year skiing something on this peak was high on my list of priorities as there is basically no information about prior descents, so although the obvious lines have undoubtedly been skied before, there is a real sense of adventure heading off in to 'uncharted' territory.

Ristinden is a stunning peak, with no 'easy way up':

There appear to be 4 good independent steep lines on this peak, the one I was most drawn to this year was the South gully, a direct line from below the summit, with a small ramp leading in from the West shoulder - more obvious from the Leknes area (left-slanting gully line directly below summit...):

Although we had to start the day on foot, soon we were straight into crampons and axe territory to figure out a passage through the lower rock bands guarding the bottom of the face. Guy & Jon on bootpack duties:

A bit of slightly blind weaving took us onto more open slopes, then up into the entrance to the gully:

Once in the gully we started to come under fire from above - a combination of wind and sun sending a lot of debris down from the iced-up rocks that cap the gully. With several larger sluffs also coming down a quick re-think was forced - we found some shelter under an overhanging rock at about 770m and after some debating decided that it was probably a good idea to head down rather than continue on into the bombardment with no obvious shelter ahead and an uncertain exit along (what we hoped was) the ramp below the summit.

A shame not to top out the gully, but we still had a great ski - Guy in action:


Out of the gully, still steep, and exposed above small bluffs , but a bit more relaxed out of the firing line!:

With a bit of ingenuity, and some unleashing of the snow radar we managed to ski back to 150m above sea level, leaving a pleasant 20 min wander back down to the car...

All in all a great day out, hindsight says we should have continued on, but better to have the option to go back another time to finish it off...

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