Rulten, the west side story.
According to the book "Mountain climbs in Arctic Norway" from 1953, Rulten is the most beautiful summit in Lofoten. It is actually two summits (east Rulten 1062m, west Rulten 1035m) split by a narrow and steep ridge. I could easily agree as as the mountain is quite impressive, highly visible from the motorway but still inaccessible as a boat is essential to get there.
Emma approaching the upper gully.
I have climbed Rulten quite a few times, via the east ridge, the north face and the southern gully. Up for grabs was a go from the west and after some research I found out that the FA route of E. Rulten (by W. Slingsby back in 1902) had not been repeated in winter, and possibly not at all.
We had spent lots of time in the caravan looking at that particular route from our dinner table and finally we had a day of fair weather, no wind and no guiding duties. Hurrah! A friend of a friend of a friend took us over to Reknes from Digermulen with his boat and we pointed our skis in the direction of Snøskar where the route begins. Cloudy weather with snow showers on the approach did not affect our high spirits. It was supposed to clear up and as we approached the col the clouds lifted from Rulten.
The route description from 1902 is rather vague, describing many features that probably was hidden in snow and ice. We started with a 40 meter superb mixed pitch up the north ridge, then downclimbed a few hundred meters and approached a ledge system leading up to a large gully. This was correct according to the "guidebook" and Emma took the sharp end of the rope and we simulclimbed the next 4-5 pitches up to the start of the gully. A short lunch and off we went again. Emma was still in the sharp end and we continued simulclimbing up rocks, hard snow and ice (with only three ice screws...) before a belay under a steep icefall. According to Slingsby the last few mixed pitches included a cave pitch and steep snow. Under the hanging ice I could see into a small cave so we were probably spot on.
I did the next pitch, a full 60m with only two ice screws as we used one for belay. Luckily the climbing was not very difficult but still quite steep and exposed in places. Set up a belay on a narrow snow arete before Emma climbed the last and quite exiting pitch to the very summit. While belaying, the wind suddenly came alive again. Chunks of ice blew off the rocks above and whistled around me like gunshots. After a half hour of "duck and cover" Emma summited and set up a quick belay. I have never climbed a pitch so fast as this one.... We did a short celebration at the summit before we decided that is was no where near safe to downclimb/abseil the Slingsby route as originally planned. Instead we opted for the south gully which took us safe down to Eiterådalen. Found a spot with mobile service and contacted our taxiboat, but he was already in place as he had seen two small spots walk down the valley with his binoculars.
As the clouds once again rolled over Rulten, we arrived in Digermulen, looked across Raftsundet and sighted with relief. One of our main goals during these months was completed, climbing a mountain fortress that is really special to us.
Earlybirds in Digermulen. Trakta and Trolltind 1036 enjoys the morning sun.
Snøskar hiding in the clouds..
The first pitch. Easy but fun climbing.
The impressive north-west face of Rulten.
Emma entering the gully leading to the summit
Brilliant conditions as usual on Rulten.
Steady climbing from Emma on the last pitch.
The last pitch left me rather short-breathed.
Smiles all over the place :)
Downclimbing the south gully into Eiterådalen.
The boatman and his tired crew.