Heaven can wait
...but we struggle, especially when it rains. The most beautiful climb for us on the Presten, the Himmelen kan vente, turns out to be an adventure on granite when it rains.

Himmelen kan vente

11.08.2019 - According to the weather forecast (3 different ones!) it will stay cloudy until around 18:00, but there will be no rain. Best conditions for climbing a long and exhausting route. We get up early and set off to the Presten to tackle the route Himmelen kan vente (engl. Heaven can wait, N6+, UK: E3 5c, 9 pitches, Top 50). Due to the five N6+ pitches, this route is not as frequently climbed as the Vestpillaren Direct. However, exactly on this day there is already a rope team of two Finns in the route when we arrive at the starting point. The two young men are already struggling in the first pitches. Therefore, we grant them more than an hour’s lead before we get going.

It is stated that the Himmelen kan vente is exhausting and N6+ is close to my limit. With a queasy feeling I start climbing. The second pitch is already a N6+ with an offwidth crack which Sigi cannot protect because he lacks the proper gear. Sigi climbs very precisely and concentrated because he knows that falling is not an option. I simply start climbing. Step by step, hold by hold. I make good progress and especially the crack climbing gloves are paying off now. As we get higher and higher, my confidence increases and I can really enjoy the climb. Unfortunately, we catch up with the Finns on the last pitches and have to take another longer break. It is not even 17:00, however, the rain sets in. At first it is a light drizzle but it gets stronger and stronger.

What are we going to do? Wait and hope for the rain to stop, or try to keep going as fast as possible? We climb on. The granite is getting more and more slippery. We are glad that we have already passed the slab which would not be climbable any longer. However, we can still move along the cracks. Our feet slip easily and we get out of balance several times, but we can hold on with our hands. Under these conditions Sigi demonstrates more than just a little courage as he climbs the last two N6+ pitches. Due to the wet granite these are much harder. In addition, they are partly overhanging and further up the route finding becomes quite tricky. A large loose flake does not make things any easier. Sigi does not touch it at all for safety reasons. However, I hope for some luck, put my weight on it and swing my legs from one side to the other. At this moment I am happy about the pull-up training. Almost at the top, the rain stops and the granite dries up rather quickly. But it remains slippery. Sigi and I can both free climb the Himmelen kan vente. We are proud and very happy about this climb. Two N6+ pitches in rain, what a thrill.

Since it has stopped raining, we take a small detour to the top of the Festvågtinden (541 m) on our descent. The view from this peak over the surrounding area and Henningsvær is stunning. It is very popular among tourists because there is a hiking trail leading up to the summit. We pass a few young men wearing sneakers and holding a beer can on their way down. One of them is even having a video chat with his girlfriend as he walks down the steep and slippery path. It is a miracle that accidents do not happen more often.

Lessons learned

  • From our past experiences and the stories of other rope teams we conclude that we are climbing quite fast.
  • Even the most beautiful climb is a bit spoiled by clouds, wind and rain.
  • Some people have more luck than sense.
Written by Barbara