Monday, 30 July 2012

Went up another Ultra

Store Lenangstind from Breivikeidet - the previous day

Morning view of Jiehkkevarri (Ultra, 1833m, P1741)


The picture above was taken at about 5.00am, whilst I was still literally lying on my bed and just opened the van door to have a look. Fantastic, isn't it? And look the sky is still almost clear (but maybe I should have noticed the cirrus). Now here is the chance to go for another Ultra - Store Lenangstind (1624, P1556) - but not Jiehkkevarri as I think it might be beyond my reach.
Parked at Koppangan
Started from Koppangan. Once a fishing village that looks like it has been overtaken by tourism, but not a lot. You will see in the pictures most of the houses are a dark red. It seems to me that two out of three houses in Norway are that colour - most of the rest being yellow or cream. Almost as if someone accidentally added rather a lot of zeroes on the end of the number of litres when ordering that colour and the Norwegians are despearately trying to get through the vast reservoir created. It is not as if it is the same colour as the red on the Norwegian flag.

Koppangan village
Koppangan from above

I started by walking along the shore, then following the glacial stream through, yes, you have guessed right, birch trees. And then the first stretch of boulders and rocks, up a steep slope and on to a seemingly endless boulder field. You get a real sense of geology in the making - no vegetation to mask things. Then up another steep slope to the Koppangsvatnet glacial lake - where unfortunately the fine day disappeared and the rain came in and stayed.

Endless boulder field

Store Lenangstind and the Koppangsbreen glacier

Moraines on the glacier snout
Then I had to get up the steep ice on the snout of the Koppangsbreen glacier - time to put on crampons and wield the ice axe. The ice was crystallised so there was quite a good grip really - not that I was too happy coming down here later and I used the rocks and grit in the moraines to help keep from slipping.

Store Lenangstind across the crevassed glacier

A long walk up the glacier looking out for crevasses - some looked deep but most were not too wide to jump over.
A crevasse to avoid
A steep snow covered section of the glacier lead to the Strupbreen glacier - it was obvious this was a different glacier that moved in a different direction, because the crevasses were now running alongside my route rather than across it. There were pools of melted ice and slush to go round, too. As I got nearer to the circle of tops there was evidence of past avalanches. The penultimate part was definitely the hardest, the snow became quite steep - thankfully it wasn't ice. There was no visibility because of the cloud cover and there was a bergschrund to avoid. The last part is just a rocky scramble and I had no idea of the exposure as there was no visibility. I did not hang around by the summit cairn.
Coming back was tough going, I was wet through and those boulder fields. I did enjoy the controlled bumslides down the steep snow slopes.
However, it was also wonderfully eerie and primeval. Geology in the making and it makes it easy to understand the more familiar hills of upland Britain seeing the processes before my own eyes.

The summit in clouds

It was close to 11.00 pm when I got back. Thanks for the 24 hour daylight. If not the weather.

Koppangsvatnet glacial lake in the mist

Another view from Breivikeidet

Went up for a 'bimble'

Enough quartz to make a few watches

Karltinden summit with an ultra background
Karltinden from near Svensby
Karltinden summit

It looked relatively easy on the map. I just wanted to find a hill that wasn't going to be an epic struggle in the rain. The morning was fine, the birch trees didn't seem to go on for too long - although the marked path through them was non-existent. Then there was the usual boulder field, maybe this wasn't going to be as easy as I  thought. Then it got steep.

However, the top was a huge plateau and that meant hands in pocket walking, doesn't it? Well, yes, if it was vegetation and not endless boulders, rocks and scree. Still it wasn't too bad - except it started to rain. The top was reached in cloud. Not the top of the overall massif but a nice 1206m with a prominence I reckon of about P350-400. In other words, bigger than anything in England and Wales. And not a bimble.

A Nakkedalen view from Karltinden

Snow face

And then wonders will never cease, the weather turned, the skies cleared and I even found a meadow half way down to wander through the yellow poppies.


Needs must, when midges abound
 Shame about the midges - my face is covered in bites as I did not put on the hat straight away.

Caught the ferry from Breivikeidet to Svensby on the Lyngen peninsula. And stopped for the night looking across to Norway's third most prominent Ultra, Jiehkkevarri and behind me the fourth one, Store Lenangstinden. Would the weather hold? Was this a ridge of high pressure or just a break between two weather fronts?

Went up the sixth most prominent hill in Norway

Hamperokken - the top is the little pointy one.
When I say this is the sixth most prominent hill in Norway, that does not mean it is the sixth highest. It is about relative height, not absolute height. However, although this area is not the highest part of Norway, it definitely has kurtosis. There are two ultras not far away from today's objective, Hamperokken (1404m, P1394).

Well it looked like the rain was here to stay so I had to continue regardless. This does mean that I have no photographic evidence that I got to the top. The above picture of the hill was taken the next day.
The route up starts, as ever it seems, with negotiating through the ubiquitous birch trees. Then it was a steep climb to a long airy and scrambly ridge with rather loose stones that came away as I pulled myself over the rocks. Occasionally there were escape 'paths', but not often.  The last section was quite awkward in the mist - how on earth do I get round this tower and on to the summit? In a sense, the mist made it easier in that I could not see just how much exposure there was. The summit is quite small in area.
The map shows an alternative route off, however, I did not want to risk losing my way over a boulder field and reversed my ascent route to eventually drop below the cloud level and those birch trees. I did find an easier way down through the forest than the path marked on the map, though.
Bring back the birch

Above the birch trees, below the cloud level

Went up to Tromso

Breidtinden from Svarthola on the Mefjorden
Then it rained and so I went for a drive to Tromso. It wasn't a straight forward drive, mind you. For example, I spent quite a long time on the isle of Senja hoping for a break in the weather so that I could tackle its highest top of Breidtinden.

Tromso looks like a frontier town.
It has a Polar Museum though. Not sure, as a vegetarian, I appreciated the way it hero-worshipped men and a woman who had slaughtered hundreds of polar bears and seals. However, there was a section devoted to the truly heroic Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen and Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen.
Fridtjof Nansen
I have been aboard the legendary Fram (in Oslo) on a previous visit to Norway and was genuinely pleased to find it was possible to do so. So I enjoyed this part of the museum greatly - especially as it gave me a chance to see another musk ox.


Went up to pick Snotinden

Hurtigruten cruise boat in the Raftsund
Yesterday it rained and I decided to move on. Today, it is still rained but there were moments between the showers when it didn't. I started from a very busy little village, Digermulen by the side of the Raftsundet on the island of Hinnoya. I didn't have a map so even finding the start of the path took a while and I took a wrong turn later that meant quite a retreat chased by a lot of flies through the birch trees.

Keiservarden summit

The first summit was only a mere 384m. However, it had two plaques on the top in 'honour' of the fact that it had been visited twice by Kaiser Bill (Wilhelm II) before WW1. Hence the name of the hill is Keiservarden.

Then there was a drop down to a col with a pretty lake.

Looks like rain, dear.

Next I had a stiff climb up a long slope, where I saw my first ever herd of wild reindeer. To the top of Snotinden. (637m, P300ish). Great views of mountains, the sea and small islands. But the weather meant the photos don't really merit inclusion here. I might put some on Facebook one day.

Snotinden summit

Went up an island top and came down


What is that blue stuff with a yellow glowing thing in it? And Lofoten is really Skye +.
Obviously time to get a proper hill done. So let's go for the highest point on the island of Moskenesoya, Hermannsdalstinden (1029m, P1029)

Hermannsdalstinden from near the Munkebu hut


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Went up a misty ridge on Moskenesoya

Roseroot - Rhodilia rosea


There is a limit to the amount of time I can sit in the van reading the Guardian and Harry Hole detective stories on my Kindle, without going stir-crazy. So despite the continuing rain I set off from the road end at Selfjord around the very boggy shore of Stormarkpollen, through the birch trees, up past Fageravatnet to the summits of Markan (574m) and Branntuva (702m). Came back over Markan and then over three very steep sided tops:  unnamed top (492m), Nonstinden (490m) and Tverfjellet (490m).

And then it was back down to the birch trees and the wet boggy ground – and midges. Not a lot of views to be seen.

Tverrfjell summit - note the similarity between the Norwegian 'fjell' and the English 'fell'
I wonder how many trees there must be in Norway – gadzillions of them. Contrary to my expectations, they are not all spruce trees, indeed from my experience birch trees seem to prevail. Maybe all the spruce trees have been exported to the UK by the Forestry Commission.
What is also noticeable is the wide range of flowers that grow everywhere. Many of them are similar to ones that grow on Scottish hills. However, not all of them and not in so much profusion.
Dwarf Cornel

 Slept alongside Selfjorden

Went up the Norwegian coast

Glacier melts into the sea -

Drove to Mo I Rana and left the E6 and headed for the famed coast road, the Kystrikssveien allegedly the ‘world’s most beautiful journey. Difficult to confirm this as the weather meant that the visibility was quite poor.  However there were at times great views of mountains, glaciers and the sea, which I am sure would be even better in fine weather.  Crossed the Arctic circle on the ferry boat between Kilboghamn and Jektvik . The sign on the coast for the A circle not in the right place anymore as apparently it moves over time.   

Also caught a ferry from Agskardet to Foroy.
Slept in the Bodo harbour area.

Caught the 6.00 am ferry to Moskenes, Lofoten. Very rough four hour crossing, a number of people were noisily sea-sick, whilst a picture of Stetind, Norway’s so-called  ‘national mountain’ swung wildly on the wall. Disappointingly did not get the dramatic view of the Lofoten mountains rising out of the sea on this approach because of the weather.
Hung around the isle of Moskenesoya hoping for a break in the weather.

Went up the E6 via Trondheim

A long drive, broken by a brief visit to Trondheim. Picked up three French people who were in the early stage of a year long journey to Australia via Scandinavia, Russia, China and the far east. They had not previously known each other and had planned the trip via the internet. At least I helped contribute a few hundred kilometres to their journey. Rained a lot

Once again, slept somewhere on the E6.

Went up Snohetta without a snow hat:

Musk oxen - could not get nearer, they are dangerous, apparently
Snohetta viewpoint

A heavy downpour of rain made me decide it was time to move further north. So off I went to Dombas which looked like the motorhome capital of the world! Chance to update my blog in Frich’s kafeteria.
Slept on the E6 near Hjerkinn
The plan to drive to Snoheim thwarted by the road being closed as the army are clearing unexploded ordnance from the area. Spent an hour visiting the pine Snohetta viewpoint and chasing a herd of musk oxen. Then caught the lunchtime Skyttelbuss to the hut  at Snoheim – the only way to get there, at least, for this season – see

Worried that whole bus load would all set off for Snohetta together. As it turned out there were only six of us. The route is a mixture of well trodden track, snow slopes and very rough boulder fields – clearly waymarked all the way. The weather started fine, however within a couple of hours it was hail and snow. The summit of Snohetta (2286m, P1675, Norway’s fourth highest summit) is dominated by a military installation, including a helicopter landing deck. And it was cold in the snowstorm. No time to hang around and anyway, there was the bus to catch.
Slept somewhere further up the E6.
Snowing on Snohetta summit - Snohetta means 'snow hat'

Wish I could work out how to rotate pictures, here. Snohetta summit