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Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Norway

Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Norway


Postby jacob » Sat Oct 16, 2021 12:17 pm

Date walked: 05/10/2021

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There's several ways to start a writing report that really grabs people's attention. Having the word "completion" in the title helps, but if that is outside both reach and truth, normally humor helps. A witty remark to start the writing. I will not venture into that territory for the obvious reason that I lack any sense of humor. The same goes for something philosophical, either of own making or by quote. To either come up with something myself or to quote someone wise, would require having some wisdom or knowledge myself and is therefore another no-go. Almost dying is another winner, but somewhat dramatical, although not much besides the truth. And perfect, balanced HQ photography is ofcourse the last "best practise".

I, and therefore you as well, will just have to do with: "I can't believe it's been over two years I've written my last walkreport! Damn you coronavirus!"

March 2020 saw my March-ferry-ticket to Scotland changed into a ticket for September that same year (the pandemic will be over by then), that in it's turn saw itself changed into a ticket for March 2021 (the pandemic will be over by then), which again saw itself changed into a deposit that I hoped to be able to use in September 2021 (the pandemic will be over by then).
When in September the Dutch government prolonged the negative traveladvise for the UK, I knew I'd have to re-orientate away from Scotland, look at other horizons, and a ferryticket for Norway was bought.

On previous travels to and through Norway, I'd always been fascinated with the roadviews you get from the Folgefonna glacier, while driving the E134 towards Odda. I never got around though to climbing the surrounding mountains and taking a closer look as this fascinating glacier, so this would be the opportunity and a plan was made. I'd be trekking and/or sectionhiking the central-northern tip of this glacier. The glacier is divided in three parts, that together form over 200 km2 of ice with an estimated maximum depth of 500 meters. Although it is the most southern glacier of Norway, it is still the third in size. And the fascinating thing about is is the fact that it formed áfter the last ice-age.

It's me, and wih my planning skills ofcourse things go wrong. Mondaynight at 00:15 my ferry would leave northern Denmark. But mondaynight 00:15 is ofcourse the start of the monday, not the night that is at the end of the monday. So when during the night I was phoned by a number from Denmark, I realised my mistake, got out of bed and swore and cursed while rebooking and paying a ticket for tuesdaynight 00:15. One day later on paper, but still according to my original plan
:oops: :wtf:

The E 134 is a great road to drive along (once you're away from the bigger cities), but the going is slow as there's always a lot of roadwork and tunnelmaintenance to be done. The google-route estimate of 5 hours driving was a not-so realistic one, so 2 hours later than planned, I had arrived in Odda, found out my approachroute was cut off, mentally accepted that the new approachroute would be the touristic route into the Buarbreen valley, parked my car, arranged my bag, locked the car, realised I forgot my sunglasses, returned to the car, discovered I had left one door wide open, shut that door, locked the car again and walked into Buardalen, Without sunglasses.

Deep into this beautiful valley there's a Sti, a marked footpath (the quality of the paths and of their waymarking differs enormously b.t.w) up to Reinanuten, a 1297 m summit overlooking some of the eastern parts of the glacier. After having climbed some 200 or 300 meters, darkness was starting to fall and I looked for, and found a place to pitch my tent for my first night in Folgefonna National Park.

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From carpark to valley


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Inside the valley, on the tourist road, looking back.


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First pitch, first night


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view from tent to glacier


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Next day, climbing up further in great weather. This is looking forward....


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and this is looking back. Great autumn colours.


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First glimpse on the left of the shoulder


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And on the right of the shoulder


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And into the valley below


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And although it's early and I could go on for miles, I decide to pitch here. It is so beautiful and quiet. Well,...quiet....there's wind, icefall, rockfall...all noisy happenings. And yet it is deadquiet.


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An early evening visit to the glacier


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Happy chap


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But then night starts to fall and I retreat in my tent.


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During the night the weather changed, with strong winds and ice-rain coming of the glacier. Next day, lesser weather, I descent into the valley again.


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Taking a different route down


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Next day up again via Tokheim


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This day treated me with a waterfall above an inversion......truly magical and stunning


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The inversion temporarily dissappears out of sight as I reach the beautiful Stoladalen


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Summit of this day is Tokheimsnuten, at 1346 m. Great clouds above both glacier....


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..and the valley


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Climbing above the summit of Tokheimsnuten, on the other side of a col, treats me to new closer views on the glacier


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World of ice and rock


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and glacial lakes


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Melting patterns


Not finding any suitable campingspot, I retreat my steps and head down to sleep on a campsite. The next day I take the car from the campsite to bring me to the other side of the glacier, by diving into Folgefonna tunnel, an 11 kilometer long and dark cave, that takes me to Sundall. From Sundall I head up to reach Fonnabu, a mountainhut at 1450 m at the edge of the glacier.

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This is Bondhusdalen. Again a very touristic broad path, towards several destionations, one of them being the start of my route up


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At about half way up, 745 m, there's the mountain huts of Gardshammar


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And above that, at 833 m, the beautiful Botnavatnet


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Higher in the alpine zone, there's Breidablik, at 1322 m. Again a mountainhut. I decide to camp not too far away from it, as it's getting dark, but also windy.


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Woodstorage, toiletpaper storage, toilet. Multifunctional on about 3 m2.


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Absolutely impressive


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Again a world of rock and ice.


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My home for the night (or at least that's what I thought)



The weatherreports had predicted temperatures of about 1 Celcius, mild rainfall and winds of about 20 to 30 km/h.The night and the weather, how come they always team up by the way, had other plans though. As soon as I went to bed, after my lovely freezedried dahlsoup and fried rice with cashew, it started snowing a lot. It took less than half an hour for my tent to gather up to 5 cm of snow on it's three-season roof, and up to 10 centimeters along it's sides. Call it a hunch, but although I doublepegged al corners and guylines, and coverd the pegs under heavy rocks, I was not feeling confident at all. The wind had really picked up and the snowing intensified.

I wasn't panicking, but I very hastily stuffed all my belonings in my backpack, and carried my tent, sleeping mats and sleeping bag under my arm, into the darkness of the night, towards the Breidablik mountainhut. Already the ground was covered in slippery snow, a true ankletwister if you can't see the rocks. The doors were open and I was grateful for that. I hardly slept that night, as the wind was blowing a hoolie around the hut. The constantly updating weatherreports were indicating gusts of just under 80 km/h on the summit of the glacier. And although I was happy with the shelter I had found, I was quite worried for the descent of tomorrow (it was sure I wasn't going to reach the higher hut of Fonnabu, as the weather was predicted to worsen for the coming days).

Having informed family and friends of situation and position, I did fall asleep for a few hours, hunted by weird but non-mountainrelated dreams. The next day II left the hut just before sunrise, as the world was white and covered in clouds anyway. White-outs before true daylight are not any darker than white-outs in true daylight. And waiting another half hour for "the sun to come out" would have been a waste of precious time with predicted worsening conditions, fog, and feelslike temperatures dropping to minus 10.

So I am sorry, there's no romantic pictures of a cabine covered in snow, a nice white world and a good photographic base for this year's Christmascards. There's only my memory of a streneous, frightening, slippery, confusing, hardgoing descent on treacherous terrain. The snowy picture below was made 300 altimeters below from where I started, and therefore less white and more friendly. It does indicate a bit though how difficult the navigation was. All cairns had been covered in snow and where therefor hardly visible, all red spraypaint T's (the indication for Sti) where fully invisible.

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Best view in the world


Well, that's it for now. Be safe everyone, be thoughtful of others, and hopefully see you in Scotland again.
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Re: Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Nor

Postby Pointless Parasite » Sat Oct 16, 2021 4:40 pm

Superb! :clap: What altitude were those glaciers at? I'm assuming they're pretty low down compared to the Alps.
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Re: Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Nor

Postby jacob » Sun Oct 17, 2021 9:18 am

Pointless Parasite wrote:Superb! :clap: What altitude were those glaciers at? I'm assuming they're pretty low down compared to the Alps.


Thanks PP! The altitude of the bulk of this glacier is between plusminus 1000 m and 1600 m altitude. The glacier terminusses go lower than that, to (rough guess) 700 m altitude.
In Norway I've ever only visited the Hardanger Jokulen glacier, which has about the same statistics, and several glaciers in the Jotunheimen, which are quite a bit higher, up to the top of Galdhoppigen at 2469 m alt.
So yeah, nothing compared to the Alps, but at a higher latitude, which explains their lower altimeters.
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Re: Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Nor

Postby uk-scrambler » Sun Oct 17, 2021 9:30 am

Wow, the glacier looks incredible.
What is the terrain like on the path you took up there? It looks like there might be a bit of scrambling required?
It sounds like there was some serious weather going on whilst you were in that hut! :shock:
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Re: Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Nor

Postby jacob » Sun Oct 17, 2021 8:03 pm

uk-scrambler wrote:Wow, the glacier looks incredible.
What is the terrain like on the path you took up there? It looks like there might be a bit of scrambling required?
It sounds like there was some serious weather going on whilst you were in that hut! :shock:


It is absolutely lovely terrain. Rocks are granite, as far as I am aware, really sticky when dry, quite slippery when wet. However, none of the routes and approaches were scrambling terrain. Steep as hell, sweat lilke an otter, but not scrambly. Let's call it grade 0,5.
The weather was quite serious, but the scary thing was that I wasn't prepared. I used a really detailed and elaborate weather app, that updates by the hour and mentions temperature, feelslike temp, windspeed, windgusts, dewpoint temperature, air pressure, etc, and an hour before the weather really started, the app didn't warn for it. In retroperspective I think the element of surprise was scarier than the weather itself. And I did survive.
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Re: Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Nor

Postby Mal Grey » Sun Oct 17, 2021 8:21 pm

Fascinating, what an amazing landscape.

Norway has to be one of my real favourite countries, I've been lucky to visit a few areas, but not that are. Magnificent glaciers!

Glad you made it safely down, that sounded like a bit of an epic!
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Re: Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Nor

Postby jacob » Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:53 am

Mal Grey wrote:Fascinating, what an amazing landscape.

Norway has to be one of my real favourite countries, I've been lucky to visit a few areas, but not that are. Magnificent glaciers!

Glad you made it safely down, that sounded like a bit of an epic!


Thanks Mal, Norway is absolutely stunning, no argument there. I remember your songsofthepaddle reports on Sweden, same Scandinavian rough terrain, lovely reports as well.
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Re: Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Nor

Postby Alteknacker » Tue Oct 19, 2021 10:12 pm

Heck, after all those beautiful pics I wasn't expecting that sudden turn for the worse at the end. Very fortunate, I guess, that you'd decided to camp close to the hut. When I saw the cables holding the buildings, it did occur to me that it could probably get pretty windy!!! And the descent must have been pretty scary - it's tough enough in Scottish white outs when one has good maps and a compass.

Still, you survived, and your report made great reading :thumbup:
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Re: Trekking + sectionhiking around northern Folgefonna, Nor

Postby jacob » Wed Oct 20, 2021 10:01 pm

Thanks AK for your kind words. Whiteouts are always kind of scary. During this descent I slipped on a 45 degrees angled rock and broke my compass in two (compass from mirror). This is 30 meters after leaving the hut. Wasn't a good omen. but hey...all is well that ends well.
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