Lisa following another stupendous pitch on Odins B...
The Lofoten Islands are a rugged chain of mountainous islands off the west coast of northern Norway, rising abruptly from the sparkling blue waters of the Norwegian Sea. It really is one of the more unique and beautiful climbing areas you will ever visit.
Located north of the Arctic Circle, during the height of the summer climbing season you can climb all day without a headlamp, sometimes in the direct rays of the midnight sun. The islands do catch a lot of storms from different directions and some rain should be expected on any extended visit. That said, the weather can also be sunny and warm for extended periods of time, and most of the rock dries very quickly after rain. Still air seems to be rare - there is almost always anything ranging from a slight breeze to fairly solid wind - this also helps to dry the rock after rain.
The rock is granite, but don't expect the sort of granite that you might find in Yosemite. If I had to pick a place in the U.S., I'd say the rock reminded me most of the more solid rock in Rocky Mountain National Park (which I know, is not granite). It is generally very solid, but even though it is at sea level, it is an alpine environment and you will encounter some occasional looseness. However, most of the popular routes are very clean. There are also pretty big alpine climbs which will offer a completely different experience. The climbing in Lofoten ranges from single pitch routes, to short multi pitch climbs (2-4 short pitches - a lot of the climbs fall into this category), long free routes like those on Presten, to moderate alpine ridges, to serious alpine walls.
For such a remote location, the routes can get crowded. Expect lines on popular classics like "Vestpillaren" and "Bare Blabaer". The guidebook uses a quality rating system from no stars to 3 stars, and also uses a "Top 50" category for 50 routes routes that the authors consider the classics. If you get away from the Top 50 routes, it is very easy to avoid queuing up for routes.
The guidebook, "Lofoten Rock" by Chris Craggs and Thorbjorn Enevold, is published by Rockfax (UK) and is very well organized and written entirely in English. It is hard to come by in the U.S. and expensive. It can be purchased in Lofoten from the shop in Henningsvaer.
Lofoten is a long way from most places, which is part of its charm. In some locations on the islands, you really get the feeling that you're at the end of the Earth.
The truth is, although it takes time and can be expensive, it really isn't that hard to get to Lofoten. The islands are accessible by road, ferry, or plane. The hardest part may be choosing a travel option that suits your budget and plan. The main town that you are trying to reach is Svolvaer. Although not completely necessary, having a car is very helpful in Lofoten. A lot of the climbing is a short walk from the main camping area near Hennigsvaer. But if you want to explore the rest of the islands, get groceries, or climb in some of the areas outside of Henningsvaer, you will want a car.
Everything in Norway is expensive. Fortunately in Lofoten, the camping is the one part of your trip that will not put a strain on your wallet - its free. Most climbers camp in the area off of the road beneath the Gandalf Wall near Henningsvaer. Clean drinking water is available at the site, however toilets and trash cans are not. The camping is beautiful though - roadside camping right along the water, a stones throw from the crags.
Groceries are available in Henningsvaer (which although it appears close, is still about a 40 minute walk from the camping area). The best bet for groceries is to drive into Svolvaer where there are bigger stores. Beer can be purchased in grocery stores during limited hours. Anything else (wine, etc.) needs to be purchased from the state run store in Svolvaer. For camping stoves, you will not find white gas or the little green Coleman propane canisters. Bring a stove that uses butane/propane canisters.
Weather station 20.1 miles from here
14 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',10],['2 Stars',2],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Lofoten
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Lofoten
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Lofoten :
Featured Route For Lofoten
Forsida 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Europe
: ... : Svolvaergeita
P1: (5.7, 30m) Start up the well traveled face/crack to the left of the small tree at the base. Climb up and slightly left, eventually coming to steep hand crack through a bulge. Climb up this (or bypass it to the right) and gain a ramp which leads up and left. With good runnering, it is best to continue on and link this pitch with P2 - its an easy and logical link. If you are already battling rope drag, belay here.P2: (5.7, 20m) Continue up the ramp, climbing around a large boulder at its...[more] Browse More Classics in International
Henningsvær, the center of climbing in the Lofote...
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viking ships at the museum
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Arriving by ferry to the Lofoten Islands, approach...
By Carol Kotchek
From: Louisville, Colorado
Aug 28, 2010
There is also free camping near Kalle, a small village located between Svolvaer and Henninsgvaer. The camping here seemed much more sheltered then the camping near Hennigsvaer. There is a toilet at this camping area but I have heard it is overused. A car is a must if you camp here.
Free camping at Kalle with Storpillaren and Alkoholveggen in the background
By Carol Kotchek
From: Louisville, Colorado
Aug 28, 2010
We stayed in a small cabin at the campground Orsvagvaer. About $80 per night split between 2 of us. The cabin had 4 bunks, a small table and chairs, fridge, hot plate, and heater. There was a larger communal kitchen to use if we wanted more elaborate meals. Showers at the main building were included along with Wi Fi and a communal computer. To learn more go to www.orsvag.no
Small cozy cabin at Orsvagaer
Typical scene, checking the weather report on the i phone
Aug 18, 2016
To all who like crack climbing comparable to the famous areas at the US-Westcoast, I can highly recommend the Lofotes. So far, the best crack climbing I know in Europe, together with with Bohusländ in Sweden for single-pitch routes. The Lofotes are probably best comparable to Squamish.
Concerning the camping:
We stayed in Henningsvaer and Kalle. Both are nice and for free, but Kalle has definitely the advantage of being more sheltered and providing toilets and trash cans. There is also quite some climbing around, hence definitely worth staying there. You also can drive in 15 minutes to Henningsvaer from there.
Its definitely better to have a car to climb on Lofotes, however is certainly not necessary since the approaches are so short.Most of the top 50 routes are around Henningsvaer and Kalle (where also supermarkets are available). For nearly all routes you park at the main road super close to the the campgrounds and if you do not like to walk along the street to get to the approaches, just hitch hike. Many tourists are coming along and are happy to give you a ride.
Most climbers use double ropes. Nevertheless, you do not necessarily need them for many of the famous and frequently travelled routes in the mid-tens, as Vestpillaren. You have to walk-off and do not need to rapell. Also, there is not much more loose rock or sharp edges on the frequently travelled routes than on comparable routes in Yosemite or Squamish and the protection is also of similar quality. Hence, single ropes would certainly do the job as in the US but double ropes of cause have their safety advantages.
A normal double rack is also sufficient. We did not need a #4(BD) for any route in the mid-tens. Furthermore, one #3, one .4 and one smaller cam like the blue TCU is sufficient, though sometimes doubles for these small sizes would have been handy.
From: San Diego
Dec 11, 2016
I hitchhiked everywhere in Lofoten- great way to meet people and share stories!