The below trip started from Skaftå on Osterøy, went up Skaftådalen valley, across Utegardsnipa and then to Brøknipa. The route is described as "route 3" on the Main Brøknipa page. A map is also provided there.
This ski-trip turned to be a "keeper". Jørgen Moen - a comrade from the great Meneseggen ski-trip - and me, decided to visit Brøknipa/Brukviknipa on this Sunday in January. Jørgen would bring his friend Lionel - from the south of France, but living in Norway for the past 10 years. I left my dog "Troll" back home. I remembered my very first hike to Brøknipa - Jan 13 2001. It was much less snow back then, but nevertheless very hard. Back to the present, it had been snowing for days. There was no way I wanted to carry this little fellow all the way up from Skaftå. The weather situation was also a bit unclear. It was supposed to be cloudy, and I expected it to be windy on the exposed (not airy) ridge towards Brøknipa. The ski-trip would happen in any circumstance.
We got together just after Arnanipatunnelen, and drove towards Skaftå. Everybody put skins under the skis. I had no faith in that vax would work in 50cm powder snow. We left the trailhead 10:40AM, and followed the forest road up Skaftådalen. Someone had been so kind to walk up this road with snow shoes, leaving us with a perfect track. High in Skaftådalen, it was time to leave the valley, and enter a side valley. The tracks led to a cabin, and we met the fellow who had left the tracks. I thanked him for the kind gesture. He thought we were pretty tough guys, going for Brøknipa in these snow conditions. I didn't feel tough. As the weather grew gradually better by the minute, not even wild horses could have prevented me from going all the way. It was just that kind of winter's day.
11:40AM, we left the cabin, and headed up the side valley leading to the high ridge. We looked forward to getting some views. Breaking trail was less hard than we might have anticipated. From the Meneseggen trip, I knew that Jørgen was a tough nut. And Lionel seemed to do just fine as well. We were making steady progress, and I looked forward to reach my #2 favorite mountain in Hordaland.
Getting through the forest was not the thrill of the day, but eventually, we could focus on the ridge up to Utegardsnipa. After numerous switchbacks, we reached the summit 13:25PM. The wind picked up quite noticeable on Utegardsnipa, and the snow rushed across the ground. I tried to capture it on disc, but did not succeed. On the way up to Brøknipa, we met another skier, coming from Trollskardet via Flatafjellet. We reached the summit 13:55PM, and the other skier said that a day like this only comes twice per year. The wind and the temperature made us abandon the summit fairly quick. My hands were without gloves for a couple of minutes, while taking some pictures. It was just amazing how incredibly painful these two minutes were.
I had promised myself to only be away from the dog for 6 hours. Time was running out. As the others planned to have some lunch on the way down, we agreed to split up. I really wanted to stick with the guys all the way down, but decided to give my attention to my little friend back at the house. We agreed that Jørgen would give me a call once down.
I was back at the car 15:05PM. The ski-trip had been 12Km (up and down), taken 4h:20m with a vertical gain of 850m (total) Good exercise. I started driving towards Bergen once I had changed shoes. The road was very icy, and I was driving a bit faster than recommended. In a sharp left turn, I met another car. I had to brake slightly hard. I noticed a GPS and a camera fly across the hood, and slide in front of the car. I HAVE TO STOP PUTTING STUFF ON THE ROOF! After quick diagnostics, both the GPS and the camera seemed to be in good shape. The shock-test suggested that these were quality devices... Jørgen later called, reporting that they were down from the mountain.
Back home, the dog ignored me completely. He looked like just as if he had lost a million bones. I asked him carefully if a trip would help. VOV VOV (capital) confirmed my suspicion. As I'm allergic to the lowlands, it had to be Mt. Ulriken tower (605m) Troll was in go-go mode. I struggled to catch up. I was hungry, thirsty and tired. We reached the top 16:50PM, and found a group of women (10-15) singing a song. I was too tired to identify the song, but accepted to volunteer as the photographer. Facing the long downhill, all signs of fatigue disappeared, and Troll and me competed about getting down first. The track was just brilliant. Hard and narrow, and outside the track, there was 50cm of powder snow. Seeing this 11+ years old dog trying to run down the snow slopes faster than his feet would go, was simply big fun. He just loves to run down on firm snow. Back home, 17.30PM, we hit the sofa, and stayed there for a GOOD hour.
Errata: Picture 1 shows Stemmeseggi and Hoklane to the left, not Erstadfjellet
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