A 30 hour drive and a ferry ride for nine days in a land where fairies and trolls dance together between granite boulders situated along the North Atlantic Ocean. I was finally among the company of old friends rested between a thousand midges. It was the longest I have ever driven for such a short trip but i didn’t care. It had been so long since a road trip beckoned that I couldn’t resist its calling and things were finally happening to make it real.
A Toyota van had made it into our lives and once again we found ourselves on the road smelling the sweet taste of physical freedom.
We were to meet a couple of old friends from the states, Andy and Walker, which meant motivated climbing friends; something that has been a real challenge to find on European soil.
We were to meet in Vingsand, which was a 12 hours drive north from the ferries landing in Norway. I didn’t know anything about the place but that there would be granite roofs and 24 hour sun. We pulled into camp at 1:00 am. It looked like day and our energy level was at the same spike.
The air felt fresh and had a salty smell to it. Our greetings were the one and only, Andy kleir, surrounded by Norwegian locals Øyvind and Thor who I had meet in previous years in Hueco Tanks. They were awake but looked as if bed was calling so it was decided; climbing in the AM. Pulling scarfs over our eyes we snuggled to sleep with the sun shining brightly through our windows.
The first day out we went to an area which I know not the name. Actually, I didn’t know the names of many of the things we climbed on which was great in itself. As I looked around for warm ups Andy explained to me that Norwegians didn’t warm up hence the lack of warm ups. Ok… So we proceeded to climb a small lichen covered arête. We climbed on one of the classics and headed to a cool roof problem only to encounter a rain storm which turned our climbing day into a tour of some of the areas. Although the rained dampened many of the roofs for the rest of our trip, the resulting tour was appreciated as the Norwegians left the next day. Findingsd problems with no existing guidebook would of turned our trip into boulder scouting instead of actual climbing as Vingsand isn’t the easiest place to find problems.
A couple days later our mutual friend Walker who lived in Sweden bussed up to meet us and brought with him his endless psych. We were now a team of 3 and a kid. The following days were spent between climbing, looking for boulders and watching Andy catch fish like a pro.
With our knowledge and psych of the area somewhat expired we headed south to an area called Harbak. To our amazement we discovered not only a concentration of boulders in one spot but also some people! Vingsand was more spread out and the only climbers to be seen was our own reflection in the ponds that we passed. Here there was a German, a couple of Austrians, two swiss and a couple of large groups of locals from Trondheim. Upon seeing all the people, Andy’s eyes brightened up as he saw the opportunity for a broadening of conversation.
The days continued in an endless manner like the sun. Climb, sleep, eat, play, explore. Andy continued to be a source of entertainment with his campfire attempts and quotes like ‘just climb that over there-never mind the pond at the landing while funnily a local told him as he gave his all on a problem he wanted to do: “My friend, who is very weak, did this problem”… (Ha hahahhaha) Walker played hide and seek with the boulders in the wee hours of the morning and the mosquitos continued to hound us all. My psych continued as I tried every problem that my eyes fell on. It felt good to have my zest for rock back.
The only damper to the trip was my response from a now previous sponsor who decided to not renew my contract. Perhaps it came down to too many bad comp results; maybe they didn’t like my blog style or maybe it came down to the business side of things. I know my self promotion and media skills are defiantly not up to par compared to others on the team and to show my poor business skills even more; it didn’t even cross my mind about what logo I was spraying when i put the main photo on my blog in which i am wearing thrift store clothing…! Oops. My bad. I think i am defiantly more of a dirt bags climber than some sort of professional.
Regardless, being ‘fired’ and rejected never feels great but I believe that as one door closes another opens. All the same, the last two years weren’t the easiest for me in terms of climbing, and as things were now ‘improving’ and my psych was revamped, i received this news. It felt shit to have felt that i was basically a number to them and that they held no faith or value in my abilities and dedication to climbing. Again, business.
Here I was looking at the sun setting or rising, i wasn’t sure which while digesting this news. Thoughts raced about my new financial predicament. It felt a bad decision to have gotten the van I now leaned against because I depended on the small travel budget so much for its reality.
So what now, I wasn’t sure. I defiantly needed to sort it out and soon but as worrying isn’t my friend and I was in Norway with friends and rocks, it wasn’t exactly the place to start handing out resumes. My job right now was to try and enjoy where I was and deal with it when the time arises. Although certain things sucked about this ‘job loss’, I had been given yet another opportunity to analyzing my own self worth and a chance to revamp my wardrobe back to my own style.
The rock in harback had some great problems of Yosemite quality granite but i preferred what Vingsand offered. That said, the concentration in harback meant no driving which is always nice and it was easier to find things which equaled more climbing time.
Unfortunately all things must come to an end. Walker had to get back to work while Andy had to the catch the cruise ship which he pointed out excitedly every time the boat showed its face on the horizon. My only deadline was a very important date with Leonard Cohen in under a weeks time. Knowing how hard it was to find rocks and the few people we passed I opted to leave hoping to some day return with another good crew.
So, goodbye 24 hour sun. Goodbye ocean view which reminded me so much of my childhood. Red houses, fish drying on the outside, minutes turned into hours beach combing for the perfect rock which we already stood on. Goodbye North Atlantic breeze, how I do love you. Thank you for refreshing my old withered spirit.