Great climbs, but not for the faint-hearted.
The two long routes are quite exhausting. One is magnificent and varied but very long. The other is demanding, long and above all riskier than expected.

A must do: the Vestpillars Direct

07.08.2019 - We get up early (by Norwegian standards) to reach the starting point of the well-known and popular route Vestpillaren Direct (N6, UK: E2 5b, 12 pitches, Top 50) on the Presten as early as possible. Eventually, we arrive at the starting point at 10:00. We spot two rope teams in the route. Therefore, we wait for about 1 hour before setting off in order to avoid catching up with them. At least we have more time to stretch and warm up.

The Vestpillaren Direct has 12 pitches offering diversified but demanding climbing. With the right gear you can place quite a few protections, BUT this can be rather exhausting. Some of the cracks are demanding and quite steep to slightly overhanging. You first need to dare to let go with one hand for a longer time.

Vestpillaren Direct

Various cracks along the Vestpillaren Direct

In the second to last pitch the feet are already hurting badly and we decide to climb the last grassy N3 pitch using our approach shoes.

The descent from the mountain is long and steep. Moreover, we choose the wrong path. However, in exchange we find many blueberries. Since we are looking for a new resting place further away from the climbing areas and close to a beach, we do not have dinner until after 22:00 this day.

Overnight stay: N 68.1874, E 14.3389

No grip is no fun

09.08.2019 - The alarm clock rings at 07:00 since we want to set off early towards the Pillaren (Point 713 m). Sigi has chosen the route Goodbye High School (N7-, 9 pitches, 3 stars, fluttery heart symbol). In order to reach the summit, you additionally have to climb the last two pitches of the Hostgull (N7-) and four pitches of the Celebration (N6-). I am more than nervous. Despite or maybe because of that I put on my comfortable climbing shoes this day.

The first pitches are easy but a bit dirty. Nevertheless, we make good progress. The overhang in the first N6+ pitch becomes a very special experience. Sigi climbs it quite easily. I also set off confidently and almost pass it …

… but then my backpack gets stuck on the rock behind me. With much pulling and pushing I can be freed.

As time passes we notice that the rock quality is not as good as on the Presten. The surface feels sandy. We have to be careful whenever placing and putting weight on the foot. The pitches along the slabs, especially the N5+ slab, are mentally quite challenging. Before using a foothold, I thoroughly clean it with the climbing shoe and wipe the climbing shoe on my pants. Sigi climbs very carefully. Quite a few times he finds himself over 10 meters above the last protection. I rather fight with the traverses. If I slip, I will fall and swing pretty far. It would definitely hurt. Do not break a sweat. We get past the slabs.

The last pitches of the routes Hostgull and Celebration are harder than expected. In addition, there are more pitches than indicated.

The belays for rappelling are, so to say, exciting. For example, slings over a small boulder which should not be loaded in the wrong direction. On the descent our rope gets stuck in a gap where Sigi finds the remains of another cut rope.

After more than 13 hours we are back at our Elmo, tired but happy and relieved.

Overnight stay: N 68.187444, E 14.224500

Lessons learned

  • For long routes you should choose your most comfortable climbing shoes rather than the best ones.
  • For climbing popular routes, you can either get to the starting point at sunrise or enjoy breakfast in peace because you have to wait anyway.
  • A good rating does not tell you anything about the rock quality. Frequently climbed routes are to be preferred.
  • Cursing is better than getting nervous. Barbara climbs better and more concentrated when she knows that falling is not an option.
  • “No Camping” signs are ignored by most people. Especially Norwegians like to pitch their tents on the beaches and next to the lakes, no matter which signs are there.
Written by Barbara