The story of Flatanger's pioneers

EDITORIAL

27 September 2022

Flatanger is a municipality in Norway with 1 100 inhabitants and also the name of one of the most impressive climbing caves in the world which the locals call, Hansehelleren. The first time it appeared in the 8a news was in July 2010 and then through a blog request in august. The first 8a interview with Adam Ondra at the site was done in 2012. Gudmund Grønhaug, who did his a Ph.D. studies on chronic injuries in climbing and has written two books on injuries and training, played a big part in putting Flatanger on the map and has written the story of Flatanger's pioneers. (c) Firnenburgbrothers

"The first routes in the cave were established in 1996 by a group from Trondheim with Thomas Vekve and Pål Reiten as driving forces in the development. From the beginning and until early 2000 there was a steady development of routes on both sides of the cave and around the valley. Someone psyched and visionary had bolted what would later become Nordic Flower L1 (8b+). The original start was further down in the cave and I'm not sure if anyone has done it yet. Otherwise, there was nothing inside the cave itself. At this time there was an annual gathering in Flatanger organized by the climbing club at the university of Trondheim. The information about routes and bouldering in the valley was lost during a storm which swept away the one lone book with the drawings of the routes.

I came to the cave for the first time myself around the year 2001 and immediately saw that it would be possible to climb in the cave and not only on the sidewalls. Several of the lines were completely obvious. I didn't want to ruin possible lines by putting bolts in the wrong places. I tried to persuade others with better bolting skills than I had at the time to come and help with the bolting. I tried for several years to get other Norwegian climbers to join me in developing the cave, but no one had any faith that it was possible to do something in the cave. They said it was too hard, too far away from other people, too much of this too little of that…. I also tried to get the Petzl Rock trip, but was refused by them as well!

In 2010 I convinced Runar Carlsen to sponsor someone to start bolting in the cave. We applied for money from surrounding municipalities and got enough to get started. Magnus Midtbø and Laurent Laporte bolted the first lines with this money.

In 2011 I received an email from Petr Pavlicek in which he wanted information about hard routes and projects for Adam Ondra on the occasion of a film he was working on. Petr got some pictures and showed them to Adam alongside information on the recent bolting. It was these images that convinced Adam to come to Norway (as Adam himself says in the first film from Flatanger). I helped Adam and Petr with everything from places and accommodation, to cheap flights, and bolts and tried to get them more money from the surrounding municipalities (without success). I actually ordered 150 or so bolts from a supplier without having the money to pay for them, but figured that if Adam needs more bolts he should have more bolts… The bill luckily got paid by the Norwegian climbing federation. After this, the rest of the story became history!"

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