July 23, 2014
The Troll Wall (Norwegian: Trollveggen) is part of the mountain massif Trolltindene (Troll Peaks) in the Romsdalen valley, near Åndalsnes and Molde, on the Norwegian west coast. Trollveggen is part of the Reinheimen National Park in the municipality of Rauma in Møre og Romsdal county. The Troll Wall is the tallest vertical rock face in Europe, about 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) from its base to the summit of its highest point. At its steepest, the summit ridge overhangs the base of the wall by nearly 50 metres (160 ft). The Rauma River and the European Route E136 runs just to the east of the wall.
The rock is gneiss, formed into a broken rock wall of huge corners, concave roofs, and crack systems, topped with a series of spires and pinnacles on the summit rim. The rock is generally loose, and rockfall is the norm on this north-facing big wall. There was a series of large rockfalls on the wall in September 1998, radically changing the character of several climbing routes.
The Troll Wall has been a prestigious goal for climbers and base jumpers alike. Carl Boenish, the "father" of base jumping, was killed on the Troll Wall in 1984 shortly after setting the world record for the highest base jump in history. Base jumping from Troll Wall has been illegal since 1986.
The Troll Wall was first climbed in 1965 by a Norwegian team. The Norwegian team, consisting of Ole Daniel Enersen, Leif Norman Patterson, Odd Eliassen, and Jon Teigland, finished one day ahead of the British climbers Tony Howard, John Amatt and Bill Tweedale, who established the most popular climbing route on the wall, the Rimmon Route. As of 2003, this route was reported unclimbable because a rockfall in September 1998 destroyed five of its pitches.
The wall saw its first winter ascent in March 1974, when Wojciech "Voytek" Kurtyka from Poland spent 13 days repeating the 1967 French Route. In 1979, the wall was free climbed for the first time by local climber Hans Christian Doseth and Ragnhild Amundsen.
Today, there are many routes on the wall, ranging in length and difficulty. The classic Rimmon and Swedish routes were normally free climbed in a day or two until being heavily damaged by the 1998 rock falls. The longer and more engaging aid routes, such as the 1972 test piece Arch Wall (climbed by Ed and Hugh Drummond in 20 days), or the 1986 Death to All/Pretty Blond Vikings, which cuts through the steepest part of the wall, require advanced knowledge of big wall climbing and several days on the wall.
Due to the serious character of the wall, in addition to a cold and damp climate, new routes on Troll Wall are rare. The most recent contribution is the Krasnoyarsk Route, established by a Russian team during 19 days in February 2002. The 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) long Krasnoyarsk, graded f6c+/A4+, is generally thought to be the hardest aid route on the wall and was awarded first prize in the 2002 All Russia Winter Mountaineering Championships.
In July 2010, Arch Wall, previously a serious aid route of difficulty up to A4+, saw its first all-free ascent by local climber Sindre Sæther and his father, Ole Johan. Arch Wall is about 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) of climbing over 37 pitches, and it took the two a total of 36 hours of climbing to reach the summit.
In July 2012, Sindre and Ole Johan Sæther repeated the feat by free climbing the Krasnoyarsk Route.
In 1980 a new sport debuted when the Finn Jorma Öster made the first parachute jump from the Troll Wall.
The Troll Wall gained further notoriety as one of the pioneering sites for European BASE jumping during the first half of the 1980s.
The use of parachute equipment not adapted for cliff jumping, the need for jumpers to find exit points by trial and error and difficulties associated with retrieving injured jumpers led to a relatively high number of fatalities. This resulted in Norwegian authorities making BASE jumping from the Troll Wall illegal on July 25, 1986.
Despite BASE jumpers facing heavy fines, the loss of their equipment (and potentially their lives), the Troll Wall remains popular with both local jumpers and tourists as BASE jumpers have been able to use wingsuits to jump from the Troll Wall's highest point and make a safe landing.
Eight BASE jumpers are known to have lost their lives at the Troll Wall. The first recorded fatality was Carl Boenish in 1984 while the most recent was in 2012.