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TROLL WALL – An Unforgiving Climb up Europe’s Highest Wall

Author(s): Wide Boyz
Video Release Date: October 17, 2021
Video Source: YouTube

Troll Wall, the tallest rock face in Europe, and possibly one of the most dangerous. The danger of the wall doesn’t come from difficulty, steepness or height, but from the quality of the rock itself; It’s loose. Not loose in a way that you might break a hand or foot hold, more terrifyingly loose that the whole feature you are pulling on could peel away. It feels solid until something goes wrong, then when it goes wrong…it can really go wrong. With the continuous freeze thaw cycles between seasons, plus the rocks architecture and steepness, It’s not surprising that the cliff is falling down. It’s a standing pile of rubble that is glued together with moss, permafrost and hope.

There has been a long history on the Troll Wall of success, failure, rock fall and deaths from avalanche, dating back to the mid 1960s. In 1965 two teams, 1 British, 1 Norwegian, raced to make the first ascent of the wall, topping out just one day apart from each other. For both teams this must have been one of the most significant feats of big wall climbing in the world at the time.  1981 brought the first free ascent of the wall, by a joint Norwegian/British team. Their ascent was documented in ‘The Vertical Mile’. A film which excellently shows the dangers and toil that go into free climbing a piece of rock like this. In 1998 a significant portion of the 1965 British route fell down. The rock fall was so large it measured 2.5 on the Richter scale. There have been many further impressive first ascents both in winter and summer, aid and free, but fast forward to more recent years and its local climber Sindre Saether who has really left a significant mark on the wall, being the first to free aid lines which were previously thought unfreeable.

From researching what I could and watching the documentaries, I knew the wall wasn’t to be taken lightly. No matter what standard of climber you are, it’s impossible to out run a house sized block detaching itself from the wall and spraying itself on the approach scree. To climb it, patience would be key.

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