Sandsjöbacka, a nature reserve park about a 30 minute drive south from Gothenburg, is probably one of the best bouldering sites winter time. Around a dozen of problems in the 7-grade spectrum, many of the also being fast drying. One particular problems is recommended to do when the cold weather holds a grip on Sweden is Oscarsgalan (swedish for Oscar Academy Award). It’s a tall wall on very solid rock that sits along the side of a small swamp, and when the swamp freezes it’s a lot easier to access the rock.
Can running in fresh powder snow be as thrilling as skiing?
My good friend Anders Andersson owns almost every outdoor gear you can imagine. It seems like he can squeeze in way more than 24 hours in day. Running, kayaking, multisporting, mountainbiking, hiking, climbing, cycling…
When I asked him if he wanted to be a “powder model” for a few hours he thought about it for about one millisecond before turning his face into a big friendly YES. Thanks Anders.
So, back to the question. Is it as fun as skiing in knee deep powder? No, not really but nevertheless a fun thing to do.
A winter wedding in Sweden can be a real gamble if you want to do the shooting outdoors. Per and Lina Granlund got married on the beautiful island of Marstrand just outside of Gothenburg, and plan A was to do most of the shooting outdoors. The weather in Sweden can be very unpredictable; you need to be prepared for anything between very cold with lots of snow to very wet with heavy rain. And sometimes you feel very lucky and can actually spot the thing we call sun…
The weather turned out to be mostly on our side even though it was cold and occasionally windy.
Here are some photos from the shoot:
Using flashes and big softboxes on windy days and close to water makes the job impossible without a good trustworthy assistent. My nephew Alex made a terrific job making sure the Elinchrom Ranger flash stayed dry on land.
The moped wasn’t only used for props, it also served for effective transportation between shooting sites.
Another job together with writer Magnus Wistrom at Fishcube Media in Oppdal, Norway. We planned the trip to Oppdal in the fall to shoot for the Swedish outdoor magazine Brant, clothing company O’Neill, and backpack manufacturer Ortovox. However, we had a really hard time to find a week that suited our schedule and offered good snow conditions. The winter here in Scandinavia has been weird and very unpredictable.
Norway usually gets loads of snow but the heavy snowfalls have been rare and far between. At the same time, the southwest coast in Sweden offered ice climbers and skiers one of the best winter seasons in a very long time.
We waited as long as we could to get a chance to get good powder conditions but the time seemed to run out on us. The season was coming to an end and we couldn’t wait any longer, so on the 18th of March we packed the car and headed north. We got a few good days up in the norweigan mountains but the snow conditions made us wish for a heavy drop of powder every night. Never the less, we did what we came for. Stay tuned, the article will be in print in a fall issue of Brant.
Oppdal turned out to be a very good place for offpist skiing, at least if you are willing to walk to a little while.
Our guide Torje even called in the local talent team in freestyle skiing to jump in front of my camera for a few hours. Great fun!! These youngsters were so energetic and very talented, really easy to work with.
What’s wrong with a classic 8? Is it really soooo 1980-isch? Joakim Lundberg turning the 8 into a dollar sign…
The life as a climbing photographer is usually very glamorous. Three course dinners. Oysters and champagne. Going to grand opening parties on the red carpet in your Armani shoes…
Well, not really. Most often there’s a lot of hard work involved in getting into a good shooting position. Usually a lot more time consuming than most people think. Fixing ropes, rappeling, ascending ropes. I thought about this after my last weekend in Norway shooting on Vettisfossen. It might be interesting to share some nerdy statistics of what a typical climbing-photography weekend costs in terms of sweat, lactic acid, and adrenalin.
Twelwe hours in the car in hard weather takes a toll on you, especially when the alarm goes off at 4 AM. Since the pillar on Vettisfossen isn’t wide enough for two rope teams, we just had to be first. Not many people climb this route at all, but we didn’t want to take any chances. A quick breakfast on the stove, and then off to hit the approach up to Vettis.
And now to the really nerdy stuff. Below is a photo of all the gear I carried up to Vettisfossen, which is almost every piece of gear I packed in the car. But remember, this was for one single day of climbing.
A detailed list of all the gear:
*Camera incl small lenses and camera bag: 5,5 kg
*Tele zoom lens: 2,4 kg
Tripod: 1,7 kg
*Photo chair: 1,2 kg
*Gorilla tripod: 0,25 kg
*Harness: 0,5 kg
*Jumar and carabiners: 1,5 kg
*Crampons: 1 kg
Ice axes: 1,1 kg
*Grigri: 0,3 kg
*Quickdraws: 0,5 kg
*Slings: 0,1 kg
*Static Rope ca 110m: 6 kg
*Backpack: 3,3 kg
*Down jacket: 1 kg
Down pants: 0,8 kg
Thermos: 0,6 kg
*Extra long sleave function sweater: 0,25 kg
*Water: 1 kg
*Gloves: 0,3 kg
*Helmet: 0,4 kg
Small backpack: 1,5 kg
Sandwiches: 0,3 kg
*Walki talkies: 0,2 kg
*Phone: 0,2 kg
*Goretex jacket: 0,8 kg
*Headlamps: 0,12 kg
*Hand heaters: 0,08 kg
*Knive: 0,08 kg
*First aid kit: 0,2 kg
*Extra gloves: 0,06 kg
*Kneepads: 0,05 kg
Total weight: 33,3 kg (* = 27,3 kg)
I carried all this on the two hour approach to the base of the climb. Items marked with * is what I carried from the base of the canyon to the top of the fjell, which was a very hard walk of about 300 vertical meters in kneedeep powder. Since I was in a hurry to get up to the top of the ice fall in good time to rig my static rope, this turned out to be one of the most physically hardest things I have ever done.
Was it worth it? Yes, it definetely was. While sweating, swearing and getting pumped with lactic acid I had a great time, and enjoyed every second of it!!!
Over & out.
Vettisfossen is the highest free falling waterfall in northern Europe with its 275 meters, and in the winter it forms a mighty ice climb. The surrounding is spectacular, and you feel very small standing at the bottom of the ice. I was invited to come along Gothenburg’s own hardmen Ragnar Crona and Johan Sundell documenting the ascent. Perfect, since I was recently asked to shoot some ice climbing for the German backpack and avalanche manufacturer Ortovox.
Since the top pillar was connected to the huge bottom cone, Ragnar and Johan could climb the direct start, i.e. straight up from the cone. Most of the time the top pillar is reached via a travers from the right higher up.
This is right before Johan reaches the third belay:
Ragnar on his way up to the third belay:
Ragnar on the fourth and last pitch:
The two climbers stretched every single pitch as far as they could, and on the last pitch Ragnar aimed for the trees at the top but came up about ten meters short.
“To do the direct start on Vettisfossen, and do it in four fully stretched pitches was definetely the highlight of my ice climbing career”, says a happy but tired
Ragnar Crona after topping out and reaching the sunlight at the top of the canyon.
Gullmarsfjorden is one of the most typical threshold fjords in Sweden, and in a good winter (i.e. below 0 Celcius for a consistent time) a few nice ice falls forms. This past winter has been very good in that aspect. I went up to the fjordlands to check out the ice falls. The falls are not very high but the surrounding is beautiful.
Some people just can’t stay out of your way, can they?
Another popular activity on the fjords is ice fisching. These guys could sit still on their foldable chairs for hours in freezing cold. And I thought that ice climbers were tought, hard men made of steel. Today, it felt more like the ice climbers were fragile papermen that
could easily break, and the fischermen were the real hardmen.
The ice climbing is over for today, but the fisch is still there, lurking in the dark beneath your floor…