The Nærøydalen valley is a tourist attraction in western Norway. This spectacular valley cuts through a grand mountain region with tops as Giljabotnnipa, Ramsøynuten, Solbjørgonipa, Skjerpisnuten and the very characteristic Jordalsnuten, rising more than 1500m above the valley floor (and more than 1700m above the fjord). At the end of Nærøydalen, you find the place Gudvangen and Nærøyfjorden - a fjord that merges with Aurlandsfjorden and become one with the greater Sognefjorden - the longest fjord in Norway.
This web-page will describe a round-trip across the mountains Jordalsnuten, Vardanosi, Solbjørgonipa and Giljabotnnipa, located on the west side of Nærøydalen. The trip begins in Jordalen, a scenic side valley to Nærøydalen. Jordalsnuten is the most visited of these mountains, both due to the modest height (in comparision) and the fact that it is an amazing mountain to look at. However, few tourists end up on these mountains.
The Hordaland/Sogn og Fjordane county ("Fylke" in Norwegian) run across the western mountains, and most of the Nærøydalen valley is located in Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Aurland kommune. Giljabotnnipa (1501m - see comments on the height below) is the 4th highest mountain in Voss kommune (Hordaland county) after Olsskavlen (1576m), Blåfjellet (1548m) and Seldalsnuten (1548m). There are only 4 mountains exceeding 1500m elevation, whose summit is located in Voss kommune (or on the county border).
The best starting point for visiting the Nærøyfjorden and Aurlandsfjorden region,
is the city of Bergen - Norway's
second largest city. From Bergen, you can travel by train or bus eastbound to Voss and Flåm.
A number of web-sites for this region can be found on the internet.
Jordalsnuten (M711: 937m, Ø.K: 936,95m) has a primary factor of 109m towards the higher Vardanosi (1294m) The saddle is found on the ridge between the two tops (Hyllandskaret). Ref. Økonomisk Kartverk (5m contours), you cross the 830m contours on the high route, but not 825m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 828m.
My GPS reported 941m on the high point. I am not convinced that the 937m point on the map is the high point, given the location. There are 3 cairns on Jordalsnuten. The northernmost is the high point. The largest of the cairns is not on the high point. The southernmost cairn is a much lower viewpoint. I would estimate the difference between GPS point 941m and the main cairn (which I think is map point 937m) as 1-2m. I normally subtract 2-3m from the GPS reading, so it all comes together.
Vardanosi (M711: 1294m, Ø.K: -) has a primary factor of 56m towards the higher Solbjørgonipa (1264m). The saddle is found on the ridge between the two tops, S of point 1311m. Ref. the M711 map (20m contours), you cross the 1240m contours on the high route, but not 1230m. The saddle height has been set to 1238m as the 1240m contours almost meet.
Solbjørgonipa (M711: 1464m, Ø.K: 1465,34m ~ 1465m) has a primary factor of 90m towards the higher Giljabotnnipa (1501m). The saddle is found on the ridge between the two tops. Ref. the M711 map (20m contours), you cross the 1380m contours on the high route, but not 1360m. The saddle height has been set to 1375m as the 1380m contours are close.
On the 1977 edition of the Gudvangen map, Solbjørgonipa's height was set to 1407m, which was clearly an error. My GPS measured 1467m, and through subtracting the usual 2-3m, the GPS is in line with the Ø.K. height. The GPS suggested also that the saddle to Giljabotnnipa was 1379m (after subtracting error margin), but as the GPS is less reliable in saddles, I am using the 1375m. However, it is fully possible that Solbjørgonipa's true primary factor is as low as 85m (1465-1379).
Giljabotnnipa (M711: 1501m, Ø.K: -, GPS: 1505m; see below) has a primary factor of 335m towards the higher Smørbotnnuten (1524m). The saddle is found S of Smørbotnnuten (Vassetskaret). Ref. the M711 map (20m contours), you cross the 1180m contours on the high route, but not 1160m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 1170m.
"Giljabotnnipa" is the local name of this mountain, but has never appeared on any official maps. In the 1977 edition of the Gudvangen map, the height was 1501m, but this has been changed to 1499m in the latest edition. I am fully convinced that neither is correct. My GPS measured 1510m steadily over a 10 minute period. Subtracting 5m (error margin reported by GPS, plus the fact that I measured on top of the cairn - 1m high) gives 1505m, which I think should be safe.
This also means that Giljabotnnipa is believed to be higher than Vassetnipa (1501m), thus the parent mountain is Smørbotnnuten (1524m) and the saddle is found in Vassetskaret pass (1161m-1179m), rather than Lyngskaret (1281m-1299m).
Notes: Class ratings are in reference to YDS. Click here for more information.
The trails described below are not necessarily the *easiest* trails to this mountain.
Jordalen - all tops round trip (summer/autumn)
From Bergen, follow highway E16 towards Oslo. From the E16/RV13 junction in Voss (not the traffic light), follow E16 36,2Km to the "Jordalen" exit early in Nærøydalen. Drive 3,2Km into Jordalen. You should now be close to a bridge across the Jordalselvi river. There is a parking area on your left-hand side before the bridge. Park here.
Cross the bridge and locate an open field on your right-hand side. There is an opening in the fence. Cross the field and locate a gate on the south-east end of the field. A narrow path begins here, and hopefully you will be able to follow it all the way to Jordalsnuten. Plastic ribbons can be seen here and there, letting you know that you are on the right track. Note that the path doesn't start to climb until you are level with the northern end of the northernmost of the two Jordalen tunnels. The path then climbs gradually and passes below (not above) steep crags in the forest. Expect to be wet after rain (high grass) or dress appropriately.
You will see three cairns on Jordalsnuten. The first marks the high point. The second cairn probably marks the trig. point, while the third marks an excellent viewpoint.
Follow the highest route across Vardanosi, Solbjørgonipa and up Giljabotnnipa. You can bypass point 1311m on the right hand side on your way from Vardanosi to Solbjørgonipa. The terrain is quite gentle even if Solbjørgonipa's west ridge may appear steep from distance. Solbjørgonipa and Giljabotnnipa have small cairns that marks the high point.
Either proceed on the high route across Fetanipa and visit the famous viewpoint Bakkanosi (this and many other wonderful photos on Sveind Ulvund's web-site) before you descend into Slettdalen or descend now;
Head north down to the Giljabotnnipa - Høgberget saddle. Continue north (not along the high route) a bit and then descend the broad ridge that forms the north side of Vetlebotnen. Move gradually closer towards Vetlebotnen if you think the terrain gets steeper. Note that the easiest of routes (and it isn't difficult finding it) offers absolutely no challenges.
The Jordalselvi river can be difficult to cross. If the river looks white from distance, you need to head UP Slettedalen valley until you find a place to cross. Under these circumstances, consider hiking across Fetanipa and get on the correct side of the river in Lyngskaret. Note that you can also descend down Sandbotnen, west of Fetanipa.
Once down by the Slettedalen cabins, walk on (private) road down to Jordalen. The road has been developed by the cabin owners, and they do not allow general traffic on this road, which has two gates.
The Slettedalen - Fetanipa - Bakkanosi route is a popular (and long) ski-trip. The start of the route is the where the Slettedalen road begins in Jordalen.
These mountains had been on the agenda for a long time, but I definetily wanted good weather once there. The forecast for this Saturday was good and I decided to take the long drive to Jordalen early Saturday morning. As I headed out from Bergen early morning, the fog hung low down the mountains. Only 400m of the local mountains could be seen, and this concerned me. I started thinking about changing the plan, but decided to wait until I got to Voss.
Arriving Voss, there was no trace of Horndalsnuten (1461m), which was even lower than Giljabotnnipa. I decided to drive to Ulvik and go after some lower mountains instead. After having driven a few kilometers towards Ulvik, I noticed the fog was about to burn off on the top of Lønahorgi (1410m). That was my sign and I turned around.
Locating the path
I had never been in Jordalen before, and I was mighty impressed by both Jordalsnuten and the lower end of the valley. I drove slowly past Jordalsnuten, looking for any signs of a path. I found none, and drove up to the Jordalen farms. As it happens, I had spoken to Inge Einar Jordalen on the phone a while back, during my research on nearby tops that had no names. He remembered me and we had a long and nice chat before he pointed out the path for me. This was very useful information, as going off-trail in the wet forest would have been a terrible start of the hike.
I began the hike 11:10AM and found the path right away. It was narrow and the terrain wasn't the best for my little dachshund "Troll", so I put him in the backpack. I carried him until we reached the birch forest where the path was fairly dry. Reaching the Vardanosi - Jordalsnuten ridge was a blast. The fog rose from the Nærøydalen valley with great speed, and I got a few glimpses of the valley floor. The ridge was narrow (not airy) which made the appearance of Jordalsnuten even more distinct. After a quick walk up the remaining section, we were standing on the top 12:30PM.
The fog had almost totally burnt off by now, and the amazing mountains above Nærøydalen presented themselves in all their greatness and glory. I have driven through Nærøydalen so many times, and my eyes have not always been on the road. How terrific it was to be standing so high above this valley. And the hike had only just begun!
We moved on and the hill to Vardanosi was a long one. We took a break at 1200m elev., by a stream. It was a steep spot. I had to secure the backpack with the ice-axe (which came in very handy down in the forest, pushing the bracken away from the narrow path), and it became a problem finding a spot where Troll could eat from his lunch-box. I'm not very good at bringing food for myself. I had brought along 3 bananas, and ate them all at once. one for the energy spent, one for the energy TO BE spent, and one because I just like bananas. I don't even know if bananas provide energy. I made a mental note to buy the book "food for dummies" sometime in the future.
After eating, Troll indicated that he wanted to be carried for a while. We passed the top of Vardanosi 14:10PM and watched Solbjørgonipa appear in front of us. I heard the sound of sheep and took some time to see where they were. I had promised Inge to report about the sheep. After bypassing the small hump between Vardanosi and Solbjørgonipa, we were standing on top of Solbjørgonipa 15:00PM.
I was quite surprised that the GPS reported 1467m while the map (not the latest edition) stated 1407m. Then I seemed to remember that someone had mentioned this to me earlier. I spent some time checking the map details, making sure I didn't miss out on further details. Troll had insisted on walking up Solbjørgonipa, and went right to sleep, once on top.
Solbjørgonipa was the highlight of the trip. Not because of the the views, but because the trip wasn't over yet. The views were awesome and I still had Giljabotnnipa to do. It was a good place to be. I had all the significant Voss mountains in view, plus a heap of nice Sogn og Fjordane mountains. It was time to move on. I put Troll in the backpack and headed towards Giljabotnnipa.
Down in the Solbjørgonipa - Giljabotnnipa pass, I concluded that Solbjørgonipa would not make it to my list of independent Hordaland mountains. But the top I was about to ascend, certainly was. We reached the top of Giljabotnnipa 15:40PM and I had the rest of the ridge in view. I strongly considered hiking across Fetanipa, but chose not to after a) verifying that Fetanipa was not an independent mountain, b) realizing it would be late enough before I got back home, and c) concluding I should take it a bit easy. I had already started to feel the increased mountain activity in my feet.
As the mountain height varies between 1499m and 1501m, depending on which map you look at, I decided to let the GPS stay put for at least 10 minutes. I watched the GPS report 1510m, steadily for 10 minutes. It was no doubt in my mind that this mountain had to be - at least - 1505m. I found it strange that this mountain had dropped from 1501m to 1499m on the latest Gudvangen map. However, it didn't matter much for my mountain lists. This was still the 4th highest mountain in Voss kommune.
Inge had told me that I could descend down to Slettedalen in several places, but it was too spooky directly from Giljabotnnipa. I crossed the saddle to Fetanipa and descended down a convenient slope, sliding on foot wherever I found snow. It didn't take me long to reach the valley floor.
The final task was to cross the river. I wondered if I really had to. After all, I was on the correct side of the river (ref. the trailhead), but the road from the Slettedalen cabins looked tempting. From distance, the crossing looked difficult. Should I head UP the valley right away, or head straight to the river and give it a try? I chose to head right towards the river.
I found a potential place to cross, providing I could get one strategic rock in place. I found the largest rock around (I could barely carry it) and dumped it into the river. Swooop - and the rock was gone with the current. I decided to head up the river...
After walking for a few minutes, I decided to cross where the river was at its widest. The current would be less strong there. I didn't mind getting my feet wet, as I was almost back in civilisation. I ran across and made it to the other side - still fairly dry. This *almost* prove my theory: if you never clean your boots - they will become water resistent (this theory is part of a list of ground-breaking mountaineering theories should hit my web-site in the future).
Troll was now in the walking mood again, and after crossing the boggy Slettedalen meadow, we could enjoy walking on road from the Slettedalen cabins. We were back at the trailhead 17:40PM, 6.5 hours after we left. Inge saw me arrive and we had yet another long chat. Finally, it was time to head back to Bergen. After this wonderful hike, a 2 hour drive is nothing. I noticed that the clouds hung low on the mountains as I approached Bergen. I wondered if it had been like this all day, or if the fog came creeping back in the evening. It didn't matter much now.
Move cursor to read notes, and click on the images to see full version.
Some of the thumbnails may have been cropped to fit the format.
To Jordalen and Jordalsnuten
Views from Jordalsnuten
To Vardanosi and Solbjørgonipa
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Other hordaland mountains Other Voss K. mountains westcoastpeaks.com