Ethan Pringle recently posted this video in which he climbs the first ascent of a new 5.14c called The Eye of Odin in Norway’s massive Flatanger cave (aka Hanshelleren, according to this Swedish blog). You can read Pringle’s very extensive blog about his time in Norway here.
This granite (?) cave has been getting a lot of attention in the past year or so. In fall of 2011, Jorg Verhoeven put up a 5.14d there called Nordic Flower, which he writes about in this blog. I recall talking to a Swedish climber about Hanshelleren back in 2008, so it’s certainly been on the radar for a while, but I think the sea-carved formation is just so big and steep that it has intimidated local climbers until recently. In an interview with Björn Pohl, Magnus Midtbø guesses the cave is 1,000 feet wide, and 500 feet tall, adding, “It makes Santa Linya look tiny!” One blogger describes climbing in the area as “like being close to a nasty animal or a dangerous place.” Perhaps Chris Sharma’s 2008 ascent of Jumbo Love helped break down the perfectly reasonable mental barrier associated with neck-sappingly steep, 250-foot long super-routes.
More eye candy: in December of last year, this cool little video went up, showing Magnus Midtbø and Dani Andrada trying Nordic Flower.
Despite the fact that I’d probably be projecting the warmups in the big cave, I’d love to visit Flatanger. It’s basically a small fishing village — beautiful, idyllic, serene — with a futuristic crag in its midst. Plus, Norway has the highest per-capita coffee consumption levels in the world, which makes it my kind of place. It also sounds like there is more climbing nearby, and a glance at Google Maps (see screenshot, below) shows a region made up almost entirely of rock.
I can only imagine this isn’t the only such formation in Norway. In the interview linked to above, Midtbø mentions seven similar caves in the area. Assuming you climb 5.13 or harder, formations like these could make Norway a more palatable climbing destination for those who have previously shied away because of the wet climate.