Norwegian Mountains

David C. Pugh

Let me introduce David C. Pugh, a man I heard about years before I met him.

David and my dog "Troll" on Gravdalsfjellet (Click for larger image)

When I travel Hordaland, looking for a trail or route to yet another mountain, I enjoy talking to the local people. On more than one occasion I've heard about "a British chap who had been here some years ago, asking the same questions". The very first time I heard about this "British chap" - I couldn't believe that another fellow was on the same quest as I.

Sverre Langhelle in Straume remembered the name of the British chap, and I made a note of the name. I had a feeling that I should talk to this guy. A while later, I checked if there was someone with that name living in Bergen. There was. I gave him a call and introduced myself and my mission. David seemed taken by surprise. Some other guy collecting mountain tops here in Hordaland?

We've kept in contact since then and did our first walks together on Gravdalsfjellet in May 2005. Gravdalsfjellet is to David what Ulriken is to me, and I'm happy to have an expert guide in this large forest (not that I think I would be lost without him, but still..) It's fun to share experiences from the same mountains, visited years apart. Unfortunately, David is having some muscular problems and has - for the time being - retired from his mountain top collection project.

I was interested in David's approach for collecting mountains, and asked if he could describe this in his own words:

I suffer from the same kind of systematising and collection disease as does Arnt, although I am about a quarter as fit and have about a twentieth of his drive and willingness to go out and suffer in disgusting weather. For the latter reason my own collection progressed at about a twentieth of his speed.

Fortunately I had started many years before, so when he first contacted me our collections were very roughly comparable. My own main obsession, however, was one he does not share. The original point of my System was to walk everywhere in a continuous network, so that wherever I reached, I could say that I had walked there from Bergen.

My rule was that I had to begin all walks at a spot where I had previously been on foot. Then, next time, I could begin a new walk at the spot I reached last time. It provides a fantastic sense of anticipation and achievement if you are not allowed to motor straight to an interesting peak but have to walk all the way there. Watch it coming nearer and nearer over a season, or perhaps over many years.

Some hikes were a big leap from a 'conquered' point into new territory, whereas others were consolidation so to speak 'behind the lines'. My chief tool was a motoring map on which I drew in my routes, creating a tangle of black lines reaching further and further out from the city. The outermost points attained are Rutledal, Oppedal, Vikafjellet, Haugsvik, Mjølfjell, almost to Ulvik, and Leirvik on Stord.

David's route network (Nov 2 2003, Click for larger image)

Later I decided to begin collecting summits as well. This comes very naturally to a Briton, accustomed to the company of Munro-baggers. Everyone knows that Munro himself had no objective criteria for what was a separate mountain, and his system is wildly uneven as between regions; it was Corbett who brought some sense to the Scottish scene. Initially I tried to define separate mountains by free height on all sides - what Arnt has taught me to call primary factor - as a proportion of the mountain's height, but that works out as unfair to the higher summits.

Finally I settled on a hierarchy of summits with primary factors of 160 metres (approximating Corbett's 500 feet), 100 metres and 40 metres. I called these Dukes, Counts and Knights respectively. The ruling peak of a range was then the King.

My lower limit is a bit untidy: where Arnt has 300 metres across the board, I have 500 metres in most areas, with 400 or even 300 metres in the more interesting coastal regions. This means I can include Lyderhorn without bothering about too many forested humps hiding in the skirts of real mountains. All the tops between 300 and 500 metres in these outer areas with a primary factor of 40 metres I called Peasants.

My tables are organised by natural mountain region - I have never shared Arnt's concern with municipal boundaries - and within that region, by the feudal hierarchy, so that I list the Duke with his subordinate Counts and Knights, and in outer areas, a few Peasants as well. I also made separate tables listing Dukes and Counts in two mega-regions in order of height, as Arnt does, but I have no integrated ranking for all my tops; my tables are thus location-oriented rather than height-oriented.

Another major difference between Arnt's tables and mine is that I have no interest in county boundaries either, and defined my area of interest as between the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord, thus excluding the Folgefonna peninsula in Hordaland county but including Gulen and the northern slopes of Stølsheimen, which are in the county of Sogn og Fjordane. I set my eastern line as Flåmsdalen but never reached it, as in 2004 I became terminally sick of the long drives and retired the whole system, at least temporarily and probably forever. However, before giving up I did manage to collect 75% of the Counts (pf 100 m) and 85% of the Dukes (pf 160 m) west of the road from Vik to Voss to Granvin.

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