An ice climbing course in Norway was added to the CCAT programme in March 2012 as an initiative to expand the range of winter courses available to ACF & CCF CFAVs and Senior Cadets. It was designed to offer an opportunity to further develop the skills and experience of CFAVs and Senior Cadets in the winter mountain environment with a specific emphasis towards preparing candidates for higher-level Joint Service Adventurous Training (JSAT) qualifications.
Why choose Ryukan? Quite simply Rjukan is well known as a destination of choice in Europe as a mecca for ice climbers. Situated in the centre of Southern Norway it is easily accessible from UK with a regular scheduled flight service into Torp airport. The town of Rykan is located at the bottom of a deep valley over shadowed by the Hardangervidda plateau on one side and the Gaustertoppen plateau on the other. The valley runs east to west which means, during the winter, the valley receives little or no sun. As a result the valley temperature remains cold throughout the season which helps produce the excellent ice climbing conditions. Added to this Rjukan has an abundance of fantastic routes ranging in difficulty and length underlining its reputation.
Seven Adult Cadets and one female Senior Cadet from 7 ACF counties across UK were selected to attend the first ever CADETICE course. We were based at the Rjukan Gjestegard which is best described as a low cost self catering hostel.
The depth of experience within the students varied greatly with two Adult Instructors building up their logbook portfolio towards attending JSAT Winter Climbing Leader/Instructor courses next season with the remainder completing the Winter Climbing Foundation (WCF) qualification.
The conditions by normal Ryukan standards could hardly be described as favourable with the prevailing mild weather. However having chatted to a few international climbers, we were directed to the best areas that remained fat with ice.
We were indeed fortunate throughout the week that we could climb at a different venue each day thus giving the students the very best experience possible. In fact the conditions well suited the students as the ice was like toffee thus giving easy ice climbing tool and crampon placements. The ice screws also slotted in with no difficulty.
The first few days were spent coaching technique and further developing new skills. The technical difficulty of route choice was steadily increased to the point when the students felt comfortable to learn the art of lead climbing on ice. This was topped off with the experience of a multi pitch route. As an average each student completed a minimum of 12-15 ice climbs ranging in difficulty from WI2 to WI5. It was a tremendous achievement cementing the success of this first Norway ice climbing course. It had certainly exceeded the expectations of all the students.
The team members wish to extend their sincere appreciation to the Ulysses Trust for their generous financial support. We hope CADETICE will become a firm favourite in the CCAT winter programme.