The unique nature of the Rjukan Valley provides maximum conditions for ice climbing. During autumn and winter, you will find more than 150 ice climbing trails that offer a range of difficulty levels – and all within a 15 km radius from Gausta.
In winter, the sun disappears from the valley of Rjukan. Instead, thousands of ice climbers come from all over Europe. Along the slopes, their headlamps shine in the dark and the shouts between climbers echo through the valley.
Water cascades over the mountain edge and into the valley of Rjukan creating 200 spectacular waterfalls in the spring. However, in autumn the water freezes to ice, creating perfect conditions for world-class ice climbing. With over 150 ice climbing trails, Rjukan and Gausta offers climbing for both novice and experienced climbers.
“The special thing about the ice in Rjukan is that the sun disappears in winter. It does not reach the valley. This makes the quality of the ice very good. Then there is a huge variation here. Within 15 km you can reach 200 frozen waterfalls. And you don’t have to go anywhere. Just climb from the village. The ice begins all the way down at the town center, says André Trondsen, passionate ice climber and formerly a hostel owner, course leader and ice-climbing guide.
“Ice is never constant. It is a living, ever-changing material. A waterfall you climb one week can be completely transformed two weeks later. That’s why it’s more demanding as sport. ”
The special conditions have made Rjukan well known way beyond Norway’s borders. Today ice climbers come from all over the world visit to climb the frozen falls around Gausta.
“Ice climbing really makes its mark on Rjukan in the winter,” says André Trondsen. The village is like a mini Chamonix. You will encounter Spaniards with ice-axes and equipment in the grocery store. And the English are always out to climb after a snowfall. The English people coming here can climb more ice in four days than they can in their entire climbing career in England.
Most ice climbers have started with regular climbing on climbing walls and mountains. To then take the step to climbing outdoors in winter doesn’t have to be that far, according to André Trondsen.
– One area can be difficult on one side and simple on the other. Therefore, beginners and advanced climbers can climb side by side. So if you have ordinary climbing equipment with a rope and harness, you only need to complement with crampons, ice-axes and winter clothes,” says André Trondsen.