Earlier this month, Norwiegan climber Jorg Verhoeven made the first ascent of a project called Nordic Flower in Flatanger Cave, a new sport climbing area an hour and a half from the city of Trondheim. The 5.14d route was one of Scandanavia's hardest, a severely-overhanging, 180-foot-long line that fights its way up a near-horizontal roof. The real star of the story, though, is Flatanger itself.
Flatanger, also known as Hanshelleren, represents the modern vogue for overhung, bouldery sport routes taken to its logical conclusion. At about 500 feet tall and 1,000 feet wide, the cave's combined size and steepness set it apart from any other sport climbing area in the world. In recent months, it has seen a spate of development from a crew of Norwiegan and French climbers, including Magnus Midtboe and Laurent Laporte. If the lines they've bolted in that time are any indication, the crag is on its way to becoming the newest battleground for the sport's ultra-elite."The Americans would come up with a 'Next Level something'," Verhoeven wrote on his blog, "but all I can think of is the next level of astonishment." He speculates that an extension of Nordic Flower to the lip of the cave would merit a grade of at least 5.15b, tying it for the world's hardest route.For his part, Midtboe is busy bolting a route that traverses the cave's entire roof. The line, when complete, will be a candidate for the steepest multi-pitch in the world, and likely the hardest as well. Nor is Flatanger the only crag of its kind: according to UK Climbing, there are seven other similar caves near Trondheim waiting to be developed.
Midtboe and the rest of the crew are planning a to hold a pro climber rally at Flatanger in 2012, with prize money for whoever can complete various projects in the cave. Check out the clip below to get a sense of what they'll be contending with.