A team of four climbers led by Dave MacLeod has just returned from a successful trip to Kvaloya in northern Norway as part of the Gore-Tex Experience Tour. The team included competition winners Helena Robinson and Julia Snihur, as well as Donald King and filmmaker Paul Diffley.
Inspired by a newly-produced guidebook to the area, the team set themselves an objective of opening a new big wall free route on the north face of Blamann, one of the best big walls in Europe. After repeating many of the classic granite trad and sport climbs at Hollenderan, Ersfjord, MacLeod bolted and climbed Centre Court (8b/+) at Ersfjord, a new start to the existing route Piercing (8b/+) which is currently the hardest route in northern Norway. Between sport climbing days, the team spent several days attempting to free climb the aid route Bongo Bar on Blamann, which has already seen free attempts by some strong teams.
After climbing the lower pitches ground up, Donald King aided the overhanging crux pitch (A3) to fix a line for Dave to see if the route was possible to free climb. After cleaning and working this and the 4th pitch, Julia and Dave made a single push redpoint with no falls, onsighting the upper pitches. Dave MacLeod led all but one of the 8 pitches which break down as 400m 7b+, 7b+, 8a, 7c, 7b, 6c, 7a+, 6b. The crux pitch is the equivalent of E8 6c, and the whole route is climbed on traditional gear with some in-situ pegs and peckers from the aid ascent on pitches three and four.