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Lofoten Rock ? Rockfax

22nd Jul 2011

Quite some time ago my Dad bought me a guidebook which had piqued his interest. It was Ed Websters celebrated guide to ‘Climbing in the Magic Isles’. The Magic Isles being the Lofoten Islands off the west coast of Norway, a long way north of the Arctic Circle. It was enough to entice me and my girlfriend to take a 7 week road trip up through Norway in the summer of 2005. We packed my little yellow Maestro van with a worrying amount of baked beans (remember the bean war?), climbing kit and a borrowed open-top canoe and set off. Our first road trip. It started badly as we wrote the canoe off on the second day paddling it in water too rough for us. However the rest of the trip went well. The long drive was taken at a steady 55mph to conserve fuel and we arrived at Svolvaer literally salivating at the sight of the soaring, jagged peaks that jut straight up out of the sea. We arrived expecint rain, but had two and a half weeks of sunny weather and fell in love with the place. We based ourselves at Paradise (Paradiset), a basic, but beautiful free campsite with pit toilet and stand pipe. We climbed at whatever time of the day we fancied in the midnight sun. We put up new routes. We had a ball.

This is not a review of the detail of the guidebook. I am sure that Chris Craggs and Thorbjorn Envold have maintained Rockfax’s usual standards. It is too long since I was there to be able to comment on the accuracy of the route descriptions etc. It is more a review of the inspirational nature of the guide. If Ed’s guide was an inspiration to us, then the Rockfax equivalent should be the same for others. With its larger format it is packed full of inspiring looking photos of sweeping granite slabs, white sand beaches and turquoise sea. What more could one ask for? At the end of the day photos are what inspire most of us to go to new places. Photos and reputation. Lofoten has a long and very rich history – illustrated by the unusually large amount of interesting pre-amble at the beginning of the book. The history is one of trad climbing, and thus very close to the hearts of we Brits. If you’ve not been, or not considered going, I would strongly urge you to buy this guide and plan a trip there as soon as you can!

The guide won the prestigious Mountain Exposition Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Festival in 2008.

I was so inspired that when I returned from Lofoten I wrote an article called Norwegian Priest.

You can buy the guide, and download a FREE 2010 update, here.

320 pages. £24.95