“Once you get the moves up the slab there’s another rest.” Said Henning, a tall Norwegian climber with quite the knack for throwing in kneebars where they shouldn’t exist.
The German gave him a quizzical look. “Slab?” He questioned. “Its, ‘technical wall climbing’!”. He was right of course, but it seems anything in Hanshelleren cave that’s less than about 30 degrees overhanging is referred to as a slab. The main wall of Hanshelleren Is a towering wave of ever steepening granite, decorated with giant flakes, tiny crimps, flared cracks and unlikely pockets. As you follow the wave round to the right, it crashes and tumbles – creating the super-steep roof climbing required for the worlds hardest sport routes. Everything here is 3 stars, no doubt about it, the location alone makes you feel like a hero. “You cant really climb a bad route in the cave”.
For 80 Krone a night (around £6.50 at the moment) you get a camping spot with a picnic table, showers, toilet, a kitchen and best of all – the barn, a sort of farmyard common room with sofas, tables, fridges, a toaster, microwave and WiFi. The barn is pretty special.
Olav and his wife have set the place up to pretty accommodating for climbers. Simply turn up and pitch your tent wherever, and around 7:30pm a Norwegian man in a blue t-shirt will come wave a guestbook at you, tell you about the weather, sell you a guidebook (just under £20 and fairly essential for newcomers) and give you the WiFi password.
The climbing in Flatanger is characterized by large rounded flakes and fissures on steep walls, often 30m or longer. The main wall and the roof are intimidating at first, but the holds are mainly pretty good (although sometimes very spaced), and routes are broken up by resting on monster jug rails, kneebars or even bat hangs. Its a very physical and somewhat gymnastic style of climbing, with big moves on great friction!
We soon got into the Flatanger rhythm – wake up early for a hearty breakfast, slog up to the cave in the rain, climb till your arms explode, return to the barn for some pasta-pesto-parmesan and – if you’ve earnt it – a can of very expensive beer, then proceed to black out in the tent clutching your biceps in pain. Rinse and repeat.
We both agreed that Flatanger was hands-down, unquestionably the best sport climbing area we’d ever visited (so far) and for anyone claimbing in the Mid f7’s and above, the cave is an unmissable destination. The routes are world class, the rock is an absolute dream and the positions are wild.