Central Norway is essentially a giant plateau draped with waterfalls that crash to the valleys below, which makes it ideal for two things: hydroelectric power and ice climbing. “There’s unlimited potential for cool lines in Norway and they’re relatively accessible,” says Will Gadd, who has ticked off a menu of first ascents for the last half dozen years. “I don’t know anyplace in the world that’s that accessible.”
Set up base camp in Rjukan, Norway’s ice climbing mecca with more than 150 frozen waterfalls and a long, cold, stable season that makes for reliable conditions. There are few places with such a diversity of climbs: Within mere miles of each other, beginners learn on easy one-pitch routes while pros like Gadd sweat up multipitch WI6s. Come evening, local restaurants serve stick-to-your-bones lamb dishes, and, naturally, belly-warming akevitt to wash it all down.
Rjukan Adventure offers ice-climbing clinics and private guiding. For more information about the area, visit Rjukan’s official tourism website.
Next: See Will Gadd's Dream Trip: Ice Climb Baffin Island and Greenland
Canadian ice climber Will Gadd has established some of the hardest mixed rock-and-ice climbing routes in the world, and he has won the ice climbing World Cup, three golds at the X Games, and four golds at the Canadian National Sport-Climbing Championships. He has also kayaked dozens of first descents in North America and won the U.S. and Canadian Paragliding Nationals.