2009 – Marathons and midnight suns, catching up on lost time?

Feeling sorry for myself

Next year I turn 30, and with that I look back at my 20s and wonder about all the promises, hopes and goals I had set myself. What were they? Did I achieve any of them? Are they too late to salvage?

All in all, I’m in a good place now – despite the Irritible Bowel Syndrome which has set new eating challenges for me, and cooking challenges for my better half, I am fit and healthy. I am in a well paid job that I enjoy, I live in a beautiful country with new and exciting adventures, I have embraced new sports (volleyball, skiing, snowboarding) and my technical development is on a rapid upward slope.

However, and here’s the thing… What happened to all the dreams about climbing E10s, winning orienteering competitions, completing marathons in under 3 hours, being as fit and strong as I can be? The truth is, I slacked off. My strongest climbing years were over 5 years ago – at the time I thought I was on the up, but really I was hitting the peak (excuse the pun).  My best running was over 2 years ago – again, I thought it was the start of my climb to triathlons, marathons, ultra-marathons, iron man! In reality it was the best I could do without much effort – and my lack of effort since has of course meant that if anything I’ve become worse.

The year of the runner

It’s time to “catch up”.

After 6 years of trying, I have my guaranteed place for the Flora London Marathon, and if I’m training for that, why not a few more? So here’s the list so far:

I’ll come right out now and say that I’m hoping for good results – I don’t just want to get round these races, I would like to be hitting 1:45 or less for the half marathons and 3:40 for the full ones – although with the crowds and atmosphere at the FLM I think I’ll be happy with anything under 4:00. Silverstone will be the marker – it will decide my pace for the races to come. Depending how the training goes in the next couple of months, I hope these targets get even lower.

So if you see a very tall, thin shape pounding the streets of Oslo in the near future wearing some ridiculous streamlined, dayglo running gear – that will hopefully be me. If you don’t, please feel free to kick me, spam me, throw things at me and remind me that if I don’t train, I’m a loser.

Climbing at Grefsenaasen / klatring på Grefsenåsen (Oslo) 10/07/08

Grefsen BroccoliFirst of all, the main reason I’m writing this is so that first time visitors to this interesting crag, just minutes away from where I work (Storo in Oslo), will not go through the same hunting process as we did! First of all, the guide book (Klatrefører for Oslo og omegn – 2003) is pretty out of date, 5 years is a long time in a city that likes to keep building – I don’t think you’ll ever see Oslo without a crane or 6 on the skyline. Secondly, the crag is pretty well hidden – so unless you know the exact paths to take, you could well spend a few hours in the forest of dark green broccoli…

We approached along the road, as described by page 53, looking for a locked car park 150m from our path up the steep hill. It was ok to park along side this car park, so we were told… except it doesn’t exist any more – obliterated in what we now realise was probably the new apartment building built into the side of the hill.

After driving up and down the road, between the two solid way-points on the map that we knew we should be between, we settled on a small car park with what looked suspiciously like climbers’ cars. Next to these cars, was a very small, steep path which wound up the hillside. Perfect. About an hour later, and a few litres of sweat, we headed back to the car.

Grefsenåsen viewpointLuckily for us, it was a beautiful day, 6pm in Oslo at this time of year can be pretty warm, and it didn’t disappoint us today. We drove up to the top car park at Grefsenkollen, and after little help from some grumpy truckers, and avoiding the couple who looked like they were doing something they shouldn’t be, we (just Torkjel and I this time) headed into the forest for another look, this time attacking from above.

More sweat later, after zig-zagging across the hill, we eventually hit the lower road again. Still no climbing in sight! After a short jog along the road, we found what looked like a promising path up into the broccoli, so we went for it, only to end up at a solid platform with several discarded “engangsgrill” disposible barbequeues – we had found the viewpoint. Now according to our trusty guidebook, the crag was a little “up and to the left” of the viewpoint, but that turned out to be a lie… So we fetched the girls, parked up at the top car park again and led them to the viewpoint, where we enjoyed our own barbequeue and soaked up the sun and the view, and I got to play a bit with my camera.

During our feast, we spotted a guy who looked like he knew his way around, and Torkjel approached him to ask the ultimate question “dude, where the hell have you hidden the rocks?” (well, I wasn’t there but I imagine that’s what he said…) and he said “they are just down there, to the right“. So Torkjel took off on a little recce, and sure enough he came back with a big grin on his face, we had found the crag, and it had only taken us about 2 hours!

Climbing as the sun sets

All in all it was a great evening. We got a good workout in the forest – I love orienteering so running through trees was no chore, we had a barbequeue with a stunning view of Oslo, and we climbed 3 good routes, all before 10pm.

  • Beinbrudd – Bolted, Russ led Cecilie second, Torkjel third
  • Svaet I – Traditional protection, Russ led Torkjel second, Cec third
  • Svaet II – Toproped central line variant

More pictures are available in the gallery at gallery.walkandclimb.co.uk and via Facebook for those of you looky enough to be friends 😉 Cecilie has also blogged a bit about this here.

The crag can be easily seen on gulesider.no – refer to the picture below. The yellow x is the viewpoint, the blue line is the crag, and the red circle is the approximate location of the hole in the fence that you have to crawl under to gain access to the crag! It’s easy to spot from the road if you are driving past – it’s the only part of the huge wire fence you could imagine crawling under, and has obvious erosion where many a climber has trodden before you.

Gulesider view of important points

I didn’t bother to take GPS coordinates while I was there, but my guesses from Google Earth, based on the Gulesider arial photo are as follows:

59°57’23.94″N  10°48’0.04″E
59°57’22.03″N  10°47’57.34″E
Hole in the fence:
59°57’24.44″N  10°47’54.06″E

If anyone wants to correct me on those, please feel free! I’ll be sure to verify them myself the next time we are there – but if you do spend 2 hours trying to find the crag, I hope you have as much fun as we did in the process!

Another point to note – which I’ll expand on next time we visit with a bit more time, is that a lot of the routes seem to be bolted now with new Petzl Limbolts. The guide book indicates that all the routes are trad… I’ll take a better look next time, and maybe save someone the trouble of taking along a lot of gear for their first visit!


Russ has a rest, and smiles for the camera