The Tour Continues

Well that went quick! Quicker than a 26 year old Land Rover, overlanding through Sweden probably should at least!

I now find myself in Gavle, after an eventful few days of Swedish exploration. At the end of my last post, we were just about to leave Kjugekull and indeed, after a brief stop off in the nearby town of Bromolla, we headed north. Not that i really know where we were or where we went! Simon was, and is, a phenomenal navigator, making precious few mistakes and giving clear (if a little wordy) directions and as such, with him doing such a sterling effort and no need for me to look at a map, all i know is the colour of the tarmac in front of me!

Not that his hardest part was getting out of Kjuge! It’s worth noting there is VERY little in the area, with a couple of towns with worthwhile amenities but nothing much to speak of. My search for stickers for the Land Rover a miserable failure.

Something in the region of three or four hours got us up to Vastervik, which to our surprise (or mine at least) was significantly larger. After meandering the sprawl of the city, we drifted down to the shoreline and the campsite – a miniature village in it’s own right!

Simon had been debating whether we should camp or opt for one of their huts. In the end, i think the rain and possibly my mild pleading persuaded him and we went for it. After a nice conversation with a pretty girl behind the counter dubbed Flirty Mc Flirt Face, we found our cabin, complete with two bunks, a fridge, a table and chairs and true to form for Europe in my experience, a coffee maker but no kettle…

[This seems a common quirk in my experience, all across Europe. It appears that, at least in the places i have visited, being able to make coffee is crucial but boiling water on it’s own isn’t…]

It turned out we needn’t really have bothered getting the hut, with the nature of the site (and i will discuss this more on the Destinations page to come shortly). Along with the personal accommodation, there are also large “lounges” to share between the inhabitants, including a better cooker, better tables with chairs and a TV. If we had ended up in a wet tent, this would’ve been ample shelter – something worth noting if you’re heading here.

More crucially for this trip, there is also established bouldering right on the campsite. While we had no guidebook – more on that later – we were able to use 27crags and found some average and some excellent climbing right on the site! And so, on the Friday (i think) morning, we rose early, with afternoon rain looming on the weather forecast and headed straight out.

Vastervik is, no pun intended, vast. There are dozens of crags to go at and while they may not have the concentration of Kjugekull and be much more spread out, there is a hell of a lot to go at. We had some recommendations from Fredrik but even then, with our limited time constraints, we were forced to pick one and hope for the best. Our choice: Roda Vaggen.

It was a good shout: a long, slightly overhanging wall with plenty of straight ups on good, seemingly quarried granite. We started slow with some warm ups and then soon got stuck in, with me nailing off Full Contact 7b, all except the top out. I am, as those who know me, a proper wimp when it comes to being even vaguely high from the ground and this pushed my limits a little. Still, the crux was certainly behind me and the top out fickle, just high.

Again, with the forecast playing on our minds, we opted to sack it off from this little gem and head back to the site, to check out what was there with a potentially quick getaway back to the sanctuary of the hut. It turned out we needn’t have bothered!

The rain didn’t come until long after we had exhausted ourselves and the camp ground climbing was surprisingly good! It’s often the case with popular crags that quality of climbing is sacrificed for convenience of approach but in this case, the fact it was nearby was purely coincidental.

Granted the first blocs we came to were average at best but then, we dropped over the top and found Gollum 7a and ET 7a and the various other hard variations and link ups. While i’m not of the opinion that the grade makes the climbing, these are quality lines and worth checking out on a visit.

ET fell to us both with VERY different beta – Simon exclaiming we’d climbed different problems! and i don’t think he was wrong. But both were excellent moves and we were both very pleased with our exploits. Now exhausted, we headed back to the hut.

And sadly, that was the extent of our climbing in Vastervik. As above, the area is vast and there is surely more than enough to keep you occupied for at least a week/fortnight. Moreover, the rock quality is far closer to what you would expect from “granite” if that makes any sense, resembling more the rough textured blocs of the Alps. While Kjuge is still granite, it has a high sheen, probably washed smooth by the sea millennia ago, meaning the friction is really not great. If you were to offer me a boulder from either, I would opt for Vastervik every time.

[On a brief side note, i mentioned this to Fredrik and he was surprised. Swedish boulderers often consider, from what i can gather, Kjugekull to be their countries crowning crag and while i can’t deny it’s excellence in some regards, i honestly thought Vastervik and Goteborg are both better. Even Uppsala would hold it’s own, from the briefest of glances i had yesterday! and i suspect Swedes are sacrificing rock quality for easy walk in and concentration of problems.]

Needless to say, i was hooked on Vastervik and in a couple of years time, when it’s my turn for a visit again, i will most likely suggest we take a trip South for a week instead of here; i’d love to see more. Sadly, there wasn’t time and on Saturday morning, we woke, packed and cleaned and hurried off the site before being charged a further night. Destination: Stockholm.

 

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