Klatretur til Hauktjern

On a frost-covered carpet of grass, just besides the Ulsrud station, our group was sitting and waiting for those of us who couldn’t resist a good Saturday sleep. Contrary to the expectations, the group was not completely Norwegian: there were some representatives from Sweden, USA, Spain, Latvia and even Iceland. Some of us met only three days earlier on a Fjell-meeting and got notorious for being better at gulping up cookies than answering quiz questions. Some met right on the day of the hike and were shaking hands with a dizzy expression. The destination was Lake Hauktjern, Oslo’s most famous climbing area.

We took the road up to the Hauktjern, meaning “hawk-lake”, a swaying path full of wonderful vistas in autumnal colours. The road led us uphill, passing some small streams, a parking lot and a monument to Scout movement. Conversations were bubbling all the way up, in all possible languages, when we arrived at the camping spot. Anders, the leader, was facing the challenge of pushing fairly known people into a dull, but necessary activity of putting up the tent. However, there were some members who volunteered. It was surely more relaxing to climb knowing that the lavvu is put up and the backpacks are tucked into a spare tent.

When we arrived at the cliffs, well equipped with harnesses, climbing shoes and karabiners, the field was swarming with other tourists. The cliffs had comfortable permanent bolts to put the ropes through; however, the first person had to take the risk of climbing with little security. While Vegard was doing this exemplary climb, we were jocularly discussing the reliability of the nuts stuffed into the cracks and the possibility of him dashing down and landing on his head – all with respect to him being able to hear it. Despite our attempts, Vegard made a safe rescue.

Then we all started climbing and belaying. Anders reinforced his statement that despite having the licence of an indoor instructor, he didn’t have the right to instruct outdoors. However, although some were climbing for the first time, no formal instruction seemed to be needed: everything went instinctively. And although our hands went numb in the chilly and windy air, and the cliffs got at times so steep and forbidding, the view on top was worth every bit of sweat and every little bruise. A tree had climbed its way through the cold and barren rock – why couldn’t we reach the top exactly the same way? Although formally instruction was forbidden, people shared knowledge and skills about different techniques of climbing and invented their own from scratch.

When we came back to the camp we could hear an axe swinging somewhere in the forest – the owner let us borrow it. Unfortunately, most of the firewood was humid, so was the newly chopped tree. To deliver it to the camp we had to chop it into pieces, when Anders came up with the idea to use a V-shaped tree as a lever. We dragged the chopped tree stem through the V- opening and leaned all our weight to its longer part, which proved to be a good team-building training. The sunset put mellow pink tones on the sprigs, and the heap of firewood looked promising along with the gas stoves and coal. Some more international people joined us. Sweets and nuts travelled around the bonfire, diminishing in size, sausages and meat were fried, despite the treacherousness of the fire that would go out now end then and had to be restored by some artificial respiration.

At some point we all decided to go for the lavvo, and it was perfect timing: when we all gathered inside, the first drops of rain were pattering on the walls. Before going to bed, Anette proposed to play a game. We were divided in groups and each person had to write a name of a famous personality. The aim of the game was to guess which personality each of the other group members have written. Only one question could be asked at each turn and many psychological tricks were tested out. The intrigue of this evening was “Who the hell is Jesus?” To our surprise it turned out to Marte. The sounds of the rain caressed us into a long sleep.

Next morning everything was clad in gray. We had a quick breakfast in the tent. Upon greeting the outside world, Snaedis, the Icelandic girl, challenged some of us into spinning around 15 times while looking intently at the edge of a long stick positioned towards the sky. This early morning entertainment made the partakers look quite drunk and the onlookers hold their sides with laughter. We decided to check out the cliffs, but they answered a wet and slippery “No.”Accidentaly, we met a group of DNT tourists that transferring their members across the lake by means of a cableway. They were kind and bored enough to let us try it too, so the luckiest of us got to enjoy the breathtaking passage only some meters above the icy cold water.

The final packing, which involved stuffing some soaked-through equipment with numb hands, was challenging for the morale, but we made it. On the way back we put some of our equipment in the car and dashed to the train station. The train arrived just when we were approaching and there was plenty of time and cosy warmth to exchange our impressions of the hike.