Hardangerjokulen seen from Finse
Hardangerjøkulen is the 6th largest glacier in Norway, located far east in Hordaland Fylke. The glacier covers 73 sq. Km. Quite smaller than Jostedalsbreen, 487 sq. Km. The plateau provides magnificient views over the surrounding landscape, including the mighty Hardangervidda plateau.
The highest point on the glacier is also the highest point in Hordaland. The high point vary from map to map. The height 1863m was chosen here because this is the height on the 1416-II map from Statens Kartverk. The same map indicates that the true high point belongs to Ulvik kommune, just meters away from the Eidfjord/Ulvik kommune border. The Hordaland kommune web site defines the high point to be 1861m. (The high point including snow, may rise to just below 1880m, based on own GPS readings)
Ramnabergnuten is a large spur on the north-west side of the glacier, and is ranked. Ramnabergnuten is the highest point in Eidfjord kommune.
Traversing the glacier on skis is a popular project. The normal access point is Finse (1222m). People come by train from east and west and typically stay for a few days, as lodging facilities are good.
In winter/spring, the round-trip trail from Finse over Hardangerjøkulen is well marked. The regular route goes from Finse, passes the huts Appelsinhytten and Jøkulhytten before ascending to the high point. The trail advances further in north-west direction, before descending north-east towards lake Finsevatnet.
This page will only document the trail from Finse to Ramnabergnuten.
Finse - Hardangerjøkulen - Ramnabergnuten & back (winter/spring)
Take the Bergensbanen railway from Oslo or Bergen. Exit on Finse (and make sure the train stops at Finse before you get on). You can not get to Finse by car (the train ride in itself is a beautiful experience if the weather permits).
From the railway station, locate the marked trail south over lake Finsevatnet. Wooden sticks serve as marking all the way. Cross the lake and move gently upwards to the Appelsinhytten hut. (Appelsin = Orange). You might see a lot of people eating oranges, gathering strength for the steep climb to come.
The trail continues alongside the Middalsbreen glacier arm, passes the northern Kongsnuten (1616m) on the west side and climbs steeply up to Jøkulhytten hut (1765m). Follow the trail up to the plateau. The trail runs over the highest point, but the high point is not marked. If you have view towards the surrounding mountains, use the view to determine if you are at the high point. The summit plateau of Hardangerjøkulen stretches over 400-500m before it falls gently on either side.
Maintain a general north-west direction, following the trail halfway over the plateau. The trail follows a "ridge" that falls off to the west and to the east. When you notice a gradual decrease in the terrain (your skis run faster), leave the marked trail and adjust the course more to the west (compared to the trail). If the view is good, you will soon have Ramnabergnuten in view on the north-west side of the glacier.
Descending into the pass between the glacier and Ramnabergnuten is easy. If you choose to head straight down, your skis will run fast! Switchbacking down the slope may be a better alternative. Head for the Ramneredet hut 80-100m up the mountain, and consume a few more oranges before the ski climb up to 1729m.
From Ramnabergsnuten, you may either head back down the same way, or make a shortcut back to the trail and continue on the round-trip trail down to lake Finsevatnet, and then to Finse.
Trip report May 9 2002:
One more public holiday in May was coming up, and my friend Petter Bjørstad suggested we should try Hardangerjøkulen and Ramnabergnuten as a one-day project. As I am collecting high points in Hordaland kommuner, I was not hard to persuade. We left Bergen by train 07:58AM, and arrived Finse 10:14AM. The weather prognosis was good, and we had terrific weather all the way to Finse. At Finse, we observed that the glacier was fogged in. We had some hope that the fog would eventually burn off. After preparing the skis, we were on our way 10:35AM.
We maintained a good speed across lake Finsevatnet, setting the standard for the rest of the trip. We reached Appelsinhytten within 30 minutes, and after a quick photo session, we were on our way again. We didn't see much while climbing the hill up to Jøkulhytten. Just as well, as this is a hard climb. After some discussion about the true high point, we settled for a point and moved on towards Ramnabergnuten. Time to the summit was 1 hour, 45 minutes. Most likely a respectable time.
Petter had set compass course, eager to prove he would reach the mountain head-on. An amusing fusion of disappointment and joy came over Petter as the fog suddenly burned off. The blue sky above was certainly welcome, but there was no longer the need for conveying compass skills. Now everything about the trip was pure joy, and after a short break at Ramneredet, we reached the summit 4 hours after we left Finse. We had the mountain all to ourselves, and based on the (lack of) trakcs, few people bother to visit this spur, it seems.
We left the Ramnabergnuten 14:30PM. As the train didn't leave until 20:19PM, Petter had no intention of spending hours at the railway station, and suggested we went back the same way. We had crossed the glacier partly fogged in. Now we could cross the glacier in sunshine! I abanoned my vision about a nice long downhill towards lake Finsevatnet and nodded politely to the suggestion. The climb from the Ramnabergnuten pass at approx. 1500m back to the high point (somewhere between 1861m and 1880m) was plain awful. After bringing some energy to the body (a warm drink and some oranges!!), everything looked much better, and we arrived Finse 3 hours after we left Ramnabergnuten.
After a 7 hour hike over 35Km, the evening dinner at the Finse DNT hut (The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association) tasted terrific. A long day was getting close to the end as the train arrived Bergen 22:30PM.
Pictures from the May 9 2002 hike:
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
Other hordaland mountains Other Eidfjord K. mountains Other Ulvik K. mountains westcoastpeaks.com