I've just spent two weeks shooting stills and video for the Gore Tex Experiace Tour - Norway. The 'tour' gave two winner of a competition, Julia Snihur and Helena Robinson, the chance to climb and explore Arctic Norway with Dave MacLeod.
Dave MacLeod, Helena Robinson, Julia Snihur below Blåmann
We were based at Ersfjorden (or as I like to call it Erik's Fjord) just 15min drive from Norway's northern city of Tromso. Tromso reminds me of a little of Inverness, its population is comparable, it's in the far north and it has a big bridge!
Ersfjorden (Sport crags and boulders)
Fishing boat on Ersfjorden
It is an awesome area, beautifully wild with tons of rock and amazing light.
Dave was obviously very keen to get on to the 400m wall at Blåmann. In fact with in about an hour of picking up the hire car we had gone food shopping, dropped all our kit at our hut and we were walking in to crag. The walk in to the base is fairly short but stiff. I guess it's like the walk in to Orion's Face from the North face car park, or at least to the CIC hut.
The North Face of Blåmann
The wall felt quite alpine, you had to cross some short snow fields and a bergschrund before scrabbling up to its base. Dave then spent the next 3 days looking at freeing an existing aid route, Bongo Bar. I like to call it "Um Bongo" after the 1980's fruit drink:-
"Um Bongo, they drink it in the Congo"
After 3 days effort and working out all the moves on the hard lower pitches (upto F8a) Dave concluded that it wasn't a safe objective for the trip.
The team then focused on sports climbing for a few days.
Helena Robinson, climbing at "Erik's Fjord"
Dave MacLeod hanging out at "Erik's Fjord"
Dave MacLeod hanging off 'Fidel' at Gullknausen
Julia Snihur on Ramadan at "Erik's Fjord"
Helena Robinson on at "Erik's Fjord"
Then Dave started to talk about Bongo Bar again, maybe there was a way it could be done. I remember asking Dave, "Is it niggling you"? He just laughed and said "Its more than a niggle!".
'Ghost Clouds over Blåmann'
So with only 4 days of the trip left we all hiked back into Blåmann again for Dave to attempt to lead the route free in a day with Julia seconding and sharing the lead on some of the easier top pitches.
Dave eyes up the route
With limited static rope, there was no way I could follow the ascent on the wall, so I got a position on a flank of rock overlooking the wall and shot video and stills from there. All the stills from this position have the theme of "Lost in a sea of granite"!
Dave and Julia swimming in the sea of granite
As Dave and Julia approached the top pitches I lowered down the last 50m of the cliff to film the final climbing. After 11 hours on the wall they topped out at sunset.
Dave and Julia top out at sunset. This picture was taken in the dark! ISO 800, 50mm f1.4, 1/30. It was lit by a head torch... I think it would have looked OK, but Julia was more interested in eating than posing for a picture after 11 hours on the wall.
Two days later, Dave and I were back on the wall for some reshoots of the hard lower pitches and to grab some close up stills.
So take the live footage from long shots and the top pitches, mix in the reshoot of the lower pitches, add some handicam footage taken on the wall by the climbers, cut with interviews from Dave and Julia and I think we have a film!
For now, here's a wee taster:-
Thanks to GoreTex for supporting this trip and to Donald King providing safety and rigging support.
More pictures and video from the trip are on:
GORE-TEX Facebook site
GORE-TEX Facebook site