Senja Island Winter Climbing

Fitness level
Tech level
Number of guiding days
6
Guiding ratio
1:2

A Senja Island winter climbing week is one of those trips that you never forget. The island is a world class ice and mixed climbing venue, covered in great climbs and potential new objectives across the grade range. Senja lies at 69 degrees north – some 300km north of the arctic circle on the north west coast of Norway. It’s a very remote spot with amazing mountain and fjord scenery and the winter climbing potential on this spectacular island is endless. The climbing is best described as being ‘like scotland on steroids’- with everything from european style roadside icefalls, to Cuillin like ridge traverses, to huge 500m high ice and mixed faces. This is a week for experienced winter climbers, who want to climb high standard ice and mixed routes, including the possiblity of making first ascents.

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£2200

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I have had many fantastic adventures with Alpine Guides from new routing in Arctic Norway, Alpine couloirs in Chamonix, classic Alpine rock routes, to questing up super classic ice routes like Repentance Super in Cogne. Rich has always guided with calm professional skill, friendliness, style and pure class. The team at Alpine Guides are of the highest caliber and I have no hesitation in recommending them. Thanks guys for some of my best ever mountain days.

Jim Bird

Trip overview

A Senja Island winter climbing week is one of those trips that you never forget. The island is a world class ice and mixed climbing venue, covered in great climbs and potential new objectives across the grade range. Senja lies at 69 degrees north – some 300km north of the arctic circle on the north west coast of Norway. It’s a very remote spot with amazing mountain and fjord scenery and the winter climbing potential on this spectacular island is endless. The climbing is best described as being ‘like scotland on steroids’- with everything from european style roadside icefalls, to Cuillin like ridge traverses, to huge 500m high ice and mixed faces. This is a week for experienced winter climbers, who want to climb high standard ice and mixed routes, including the possiblity of making first ascents.

Recent Trip Reports:

Need further information? enquire about this trip.


Dates and Price

This trip is available on demand through the winter season with the best window (for daylight hours/conditions) being mid February to mid March. You may book as a group of 2 along with your regular climbing partner, climbing at 1:2 ratio with the guide, at a cost is £2200 per person.

You may also book as individual if you would prefer climbing 1:1 with your guide – please contact us for a quote.


Suitability

This is an advanced level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3 and Tech Level 4-5 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines). To get the most from this week, you need to be comfortable seconding Scottish grade 5 on both ice and mixed terrain (WI4+/M4-M5). A typical day will feel very much like a Scottish day out: up to an hour and a half’s walking (but sometimes only 10 mins) often requiring snowshoes, 8 hours of climbing and finishing with either a walk off descent, or more often by abseil back down the line, or a technical mountaineering descent. All in all, the mountains are relatively small – mainly 700-900m in hight, but they make up for this in technicality and their wild atmosphere!


Guiding ratio

One UIAGM guide climbing with 2 clients.


Included in price

  • 6 days of guiding
  • All guides expenses
  • 7 nights full board self catering accommodation at Senja Lodge
  • Travel during the trip in shared hire vehicle

Excluded from price (see factsheet for cost estimates)

  • Drinks and hill snacks
  • Flights
  • Insurance

Accommodation

Our accommodation on Senja is the Senja Lodge located in a tiny fishing village on the far north side of the island, surrounded by stunning mountains and just a stones throw from the Arctic ocean. It is owned and run by local mountain guide Bent Vidar Eilertsen as a self catering skiers and climbers lodge – formerly a fishermans cottage, it now makes a stunning base from which to explore the island, and is a very comfortable place to hang out.

At the Lodge you will find shared bedrooms (2-4 bunks in each room), a toilet and bathroom with shower, drying room, equipment and work room for servicing gear, a fully equipped kitchen and two living rooms – one with a wide screen TV and a large collection of ski/climb/expedition films, and one with a huge library of mountaineering books. The bunks have duvets and pillows, but not linen/covers so you need to take your own linen/covers or a light sleeping bag or liner. We will self cater and buy food supplies locally. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements. Lodge details can be found on our Accommodation page.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1

Fly from London Gatwick via Oslo to Bardufoss in Northern Norway, pick up hire car and travel to Senja Island (2 hrs drive). Evening Briefing – your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, before going on to discuss the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our plans.


Days 2 – 7

Senja Island winter climbing. There are a wide variety of established routes on the island at all grades, some examples of which are shown below.

First Ascents – a big draw for climbing on Senja, is it’s huge potential for exploration. We’ve been climbing on the island for several years now, and been privileged to play an active role in the development of this amazing place, with 20 or so new routes of all grades. As a result, we have an excellent knowledge of the mountains and a long list of ideas for as yet unclimbed lines and new adventures!

Ice routes:

  • Chockstone Gully – WI3+. A nice 4 pitch ice route by the sea, threading a big chockstone
  • Knoll and Tot – WI4. Nice ice flows overlooking the sea
  • Big Blue – WI4-5. Excellent steep ice column by the sea
  • Hesten South face – WI4+. An amazing 9 pitch ice smear on an impressive face
  • Finkonna – WI6, the islands mega classic hard ice route

Gully climbs:

  • Kyles Keyhole – AI3, short but atmospheric Scottish gully, 45 mins from the lodge
  • Band of Brothers – AI 3-4, a long and impressive gully/face route
  • Loki – AI5/M5. Superb steep gully with a mixed finish

Mixed routes:

  • Fjolhaugen South Face – AI5/M3. Icy face climbing to a mixed ramp line, finishing on a superb pointy summit.
  • Stormbringers – M4. 4 pitches of excellent turfy corners and chimneys.
  • The Trolls, the Trolls – M5. 6 pitches of turfy grooves leading to a deep chimney, then a superb ice gully to finish.
  • The Great Corner – WI4+/M6. One of the best mixed routes on the island. 5 pitches of ice and mixed up a huge corner/chimney line. Simply awesome.

Day 8

Early start, in order to drive back to Bardufoss Airport for flights home.

Location and Travel

Your meeting point for this trip is Bardufoss airport (BDU), situated on the NW coast of Arctic Norway, in between Narvik and Tromso.


Arrival/Departure

The most convenient way to reach Senja is fly to Oslo, with connecting flights on to Bardufoss airport or Tromso (using the same airline). Your guide will collect you from the airport on the evening of Day 1, and drop you off on the morning of Day 8, in time for return flights. For transfer to Senja and travel during the trip, your guide will transport the team in a hire vehicle. Please contact us to discuss the most suitable flights for your chosen dates, and for any other help with your travel plans.


Flights

Norwegian and SAS airlines offer flights from several UK airports including London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Check Sky Scanner flight comparison site for your best option.

Further information and travel links can be found on our Travel Planning page.

Fitness and Experience

Training

If you need to top up your fitness for this trip, please see our training guidelines.


Tech Levels

Please make a self assessment against these levels, and refer to the trip suitability requirements.

Tech Level 1
Hillwalker/scrambler. You have UK hillwalking and perhaps summer UK scrambling, or European via ferrata experience – but no rock or ice climbing, or previous alpine climbing experience.

Tech Level 2
Novice climber. Indoor or outdoor sport climbing experience / seconding traditionally protected climbs at V Diff – Severe standard / winter hillwalking, trekking or mountaineering using an ice axe and crampons.

Tech Level 3
Intermediate climber. Leading single or multi pitch trad rock climbs at Severe – VS / ice climbing experience seconding routes to Scottish grade 2 – 3 or equivalent alpine terrain / familiar with multipitch abseil descents.

Tech Level 4
Experienced climber. Leading multi pitch trad rock climbs at VS – HVS / multi pitch winter climbs to Scottish grade 4 or equivalent alpine terrain. If you mainly climb with guides or seldom lead climb, you have extensive experience seconding at this standard.

Tech Level 5
Very experienced climber. Regularly lead multipitch E1+ trad rock /  ice and mixed routes at Scottish 5+/WI5 or equivalent alpine terrain. If you mainly climb with guides or seldom lead climb, you have very extensive experience climbing at this level.


Fitness Levels

Please make a self assessment against these levels, and refer to the trip requirements. These are cardiovascular (CV) fitness and activity levels eg. running, cycling, hillwalking or competitive sports that get your heart and lungs working for extended periods of time (not strength training in the gym!).

Fitness Level 1
You do 1-2 hours of training/cardiovascular sport per week. Eg: you should be able to climb Snowdon from Pen y Pas in around 2 hrs carrying a day sack, or Bow Fell starting from Langdale in the Lake District in about 2 1/2 hrs.

Fitness Level 2
You do 2-3 hours CV training/sport per week. At this level you should be happy doing either a 3-4 hour hillwalk, cycling 30 miles or mountain biking 2-3 hours without being exhausted. Eg: you should be able to walk from Ogwen Cottage in North Wales up Glyder Fach – Glyder Fawr – Y Garn – Ogwen in ~5hrs. Or in the Lake District Langdale – Bowfell – Esk Pike – Angle Tarn – Langdale in ~ 6hrs.

Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours CV training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hour hillwalk, 50 mile cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. Eg: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted.

Fitness Level 4
You do 4+ hours CV training/sport per week. A 70+ mile cycle ride, or 20+ mile hillwalk on a weekend would hold no fears. If so inclined, you might be the kind of person who has done longer road sportives/challenge rides, a ~3.30hr marathon or other similar endurance events. Keen hillwalkers who happily knock off 3-4+ munros in a day also have this kind of fitness and endurance.

Fitness Level 5
You do 5-6+ hours training for competitive sport per week, have a background in the same, or you are annoyingly talented! Either way, doing a 100 ml bike ride or about a 3hr marathon wouldn’t be unreasonable.

Equipment

Alpine Ice Kit List

Equipment can take a real hammering in winter-time, so a substantial hardshell is preferred, rather than lightweight summer waterproofs.

Technical Clothing

  • Waterproof Jacket – full weight breathable model preferred
  • Waterproof trousers – durable model with 3/4 or full length side zips
  • Socks – warm ‘Smartwool’ type, plus thin liner socks and spares
  • Gaiters – made from breathable material
  • Wicking thermal baselayer tops – synthetic not cotton!
  • 2 fleeces – or equivalent insulating mid-layers
  • Belay jacket – down or synthetic insulation
  • Powerstretch tights or warm mountain trousers – should fit comfortably under your waterproof trousers
  • Thin inner gloves
  • Warm mountain gloves – Goretex or equivalent water/windproof model
  • Second pair of mountain gloves as above – one pair will often get wet
  • Hat or balaclava – must fit under a helmet.
  • Spare mittens – especially if you suffer from cold hands

Personal Items

  • Water Container – at least 1 litre
  • Headtorch and batteries
  • Map, compass and whistle (optional, but a good idea)
  • Personal medications and blister kit – zinc oxide tape, compeed, painkillers etc
  • Sun Glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
  • Goggles – for windy/snowy conditions
  • Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
  • Wallet and passport
  • Alpine Club/BMC card (if you are a member) and insurance docs

Technical Equipment

  • Rucsac 40-50l – to handle extra winter kit
  • Rucsac – superlight 15/20l model, for taking on long multi-pitch icefall routes (optional)
  • *Rigid 4 season mountaineering bootsAxe, Boot and Crampon advice
  • Harness, locking karabiner and belay device
  • 120cm sling and locking karabiner
  • Climbing helmet
  • Technical ice axe and ice hammer
  • Crampons – vertically orientated front points are best, or sharp new mountaineering crampons are also fine
  • Snowshoes or ski mountaineering equipment for Winter Couloirs/Norwegian ice climbing trips – please contact us for advice

Your guide will have ropes, climbing rack, first aid and survival equipment.

*Boots: These are VERY important to the success of your trip! Its best to have your own boots and break them in well before the start of the trip – see advice below.


Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website or our blog for equipment advice. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!

Purchasing Equipment
Backcountry UK in Ilkley offer an excellent mountain boot fitting service and general equipment advice.

Hiring Equipment
Please see our Equipment Hire page for more details.


Insurance

For this trip you must have specialist travel insurance providing medical, emergency search/rescue and repatriation cover for the following activities: rock climbing and mountaineering in glaciated areas requiring the use of ropes, up to 5000m altitude. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury.

Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.


Insurance for UK residents

British Mountaineering Council. The gold standard in insurance for UK residents. Very competitive single trip or annual cover for all climbing activities. Use this link to book your BMC insurance.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This gives you reciprocal health care in European countries. You can apply for an EHIC card online here or from most Post Offices. You need an EHIC in addition to your travel insurance.


European residents (non-UK)
Austrian Alpine Club. Available to all European residents. AAC insurance is cheap and works ok for minor accidents and rescues, but is not as comprehensive as many other insurance providers. The medical cover included would not be enough for complex treatment or a prolonged stay in hospital. It also doesn’t include cancellation cover. If you choose to use AAC we recommend you take out extra medical cover with another provider, to ‘top up’ the AAC medical limit, as well as a separate cancellation policy.


USA residents

Travelex. For US citizens – a range of policies with comprehensive cover.


For any nationality

Global Rescue. Cover offered to all nationalities via a combination of GR membership and their separate insurance policy.


If you choose an alternative provider, or if there is any doubt about the scope of your chosen policy we recommend that you send your insurer the link to the relevant Alpine Guides trip webpage, and ask them if cover extends to those activities and has the required components (search/rescue, medical, repatriation and cancellation). It’s worth mentioning that rescue and medical expenses in Switzerland can be significantly more expensive than in other countries, so a decent level of cover is required for Swiss tours.

We recommend that you send us your insurance details before the trip commences, and they must be brought to the course briefing at the start of your trip. However, we cannot check the detail of every individual policy, and it is your own responsibility to ensure you are adequately insured.

FAQ's

What happens to my deposit if I book a trip, but it isn’t confirmed to run due to insufficient bookings?

You may transfer your booking to different dates, a different course, or choose a full refund.

See our terms and conditions


Does Alpine Guides climb with customers from overseas, including the USA and Canada?

Yes!

See our info for overseas customers


How do I book a climbing trip?

For scheduled climbing trips it’s easy to book online, directly from your course page. For hire a guide/bespoke courses please get in touch for a quote.

More booking information


Can I book a single room on my climbing trip?

Yes – this can be done during the online booking process. Please add the single room option to your order, and we will confirm availability asap.

More hotel information


How do I rent mountaineering equipment?

You can rent certain items of specialist equipment from us, and the rest can usually be hired in resort.

Climbing equipment rental info


What happens to our plans if the weather is bad, or climbing conditions are poor?

We will make every effort to stick to the itinerary, but sometimes its necessary to change plans and select different objectives more suited to the prevailing conditions, or travel to a neighbouring area or sometimes even further afield.

A sound mountaineering decision - running away....!


Who goes on our trips?

We climb and ski with a broad range of ages and experience levels, and a large number of our customers come back year after year. We’ve guided 10 year old Ollie up the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland – now the youngest person to climb it. And 70 year old David has climbed the Matterhorn with us, as well as out-skiing people half his age!

The Matterhorn at 70 yrs young


What happens if I need to cancel my course?

If you wish to cancel you must notify us in writing, where upon the following charges will be applied from the date we receive your notice of cancellation:

  • More than 8 weeks (56 days) before start date – loss of deposit.
  • Between 4 and 8 weeks (28-56 days) before start date – 50% of course fee or loss of deposit, whichever amount is greater.
  • Less than 4 weeks (28 days) before start date – full course fee.

See our terms and conditions


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