Monday, 29 August 2011

Bongo Bar, Norway.... or as I like to call it 'Um Bongo'!

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.

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 Granitveien 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.

Dave MacLeod on Pitch 2 of Bongo Bar

Dave MacLeod on Pitch 2 of Bongo Bar

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 

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

E8 Onsight for MacHaffie

Yesterday Matt headed over to Raven Crag in Langdale to film James MacHaffie's attempt at onsighting Dawes Rides a Shovelhead. The route, originally climbed by Dave Birkett, comes in at E8 6c and has not seen an onsight attempt before. Caff made the most of the glorious sunshine and warmed up on a couple of the easier routes before deciding to give Dawes a go.

The route follows the thin crack line up the centre of the main face and is protected by a couple of relatively unreliable nuts and some old bolts. Caff mentioned that if the route had wires in the place of those bolts it would probably be E6. He is fresh off of his impressive 9a ascent of The Big Bang (which he climbed twice), and is feeling 'sport fit' at the minute. He said that the moves felt pretty easy, although there is a distinct lack of good foot holds in the crux section.

Caff is back in the Lakes for a few days, and is planning on heading down to Malham to spend a few days climbing some hard sport.

Thanks to Dan McCann for some of the images.