Norwegian Mountains, Sogn og Fjordane
Kattanakken, 1450m (ca.)
|Fylke/Kommune :||Sogn og Fjordane county/Stryn municipality|
|Maps :||1318-II Brigsdalsbreen (Statens Kartverk, Norge 1:50 000)|
|Primary factor :||40m|
|Hiked :||Aug 2010|
|See also :||
|See also :||Other Sogn og Fjordane mountains on westcoastpeaks.com|
Kattanakken (Cat's neck) is - undisputedly - one of the finest gateways to Jostedalsbreen - Norway's largest glacier. The entry point is Briksdalen in Oldedalen, and above 1000 meters, this old trade route between Oldedalen and Jostedalen follows a spectacular ridge up to the glacier. Although the Briksdalsbreen glacier is one of Norway's most popular tourist attractions, only a fraction find their way up Kattanakken.
Viewed from a certain angle in Oldedalen, a part of the ridge has two features that resembles a cat's ears. This is how the ridge earned its name. But the locals only refers to Kattanakken as "Nakkjen". The hike requires experience from hiking in exposed, steep terrain. Most of the route follows a nice path, but you can not reach the top without using your hands. Here and there, Kattanakken offers exposed, but easy scrambling.
Those who are not into scrambling, but still would like some of the magnificent views the route has to offer, can settle for Sauskårholten (a local name) at 960 meters. That is - if you don't see any particular difficulties with the slab section down in Briksdalen. Although not exposed, this section can be awkward when wet.
Although the ridge is incredibly fun in itself, it is the dramatic terrain all around that makes Kattanakken an unforgettable hike. On your way up the ridge, you have the beautiful Oldedalen to the north, Briksdalsbreen glacier and Tjøtafossen waterfall to the east, Volefossen waterfall to the west and above you - the Tjøtabreen and Melkevollbreen glaciers, "thumbling" down from the main glacier. And not to mention all of the characteristic peaks - Middagsnibba, Hanekammen and Ceciliekruna - just to name a few...
Provided there is vacancy, you can choose between many accommodations in Oldedalen. Melkevoll Bretun is the camping site (they also have cabins) closest to the Kattanakken trailhead. If the surrounding mountains aren't challenging enough, you can take on a number of a number of bouldering problems on the camping ground. There is also a climbing guide available on the internet (Norwegian text only).
A final (and mandatory) advice - do not attempt to walk on the glaciers without proper equipment and knowledge. And - do follow the advice found on the path towards the Briksdalsbreen glacier. They are there for your safety.
The Kattanakken route is also described in the book Opptur Sogn og Fjordane (ISBN 978-82-91722-47-4).
Kattanakken (Norge 1:50,000: highest contour 1440m, Økonomisk Kartverk: -, UTM 32 V 385773 6836491) has a primary factor of 40m towards the higher parent Jostedalsbreen glacier. The defining saddle (approx. 32 V 385949 6836336) is found just 230 meters southeast of Kattanakken high point. Ref. Norge 1:50,000 (20m contours), the saddle is within the range 1400-1420m, interpolated to 1410m.
GPS measurement read 1452m (on the ground), averaged over a 10-minute period (error margin 2,4m). The suggested height of 1450m is a mere interpolation from the 1440m contour.
Google's interactive map. You can zoom, pan and click on the markers.
Route 1: Oldedalen - Kattanakken (summer/autumn)
This route description is valid per Aug 2010
(all distances are approx. distances)
The nearest larger town/village is Stryn by the Nordfjord. Follow highway RV60 south to Olden (approx. 17km). You pass the the village of Loen (home of the famous Hotel Alexandra) along the way. At Olden, turn left towards Briksdalsbreen (signposted). Follow this road as far as it goes (approx. 21km) and find parking near Briksdalen Fjellstove. There is a parking fee (self served).
Follow the road from the parking into Briksdalen valley. Be aware of modern "horses" carrying tourists. As an alternative to the road, you can follow a trail that has a shorter approach into the valley. When you get to the bridge (N61.66452 E6.83671 - 300 MSL (meters above sea level)), cross it and follow the path in the direction which the Kattanakken signpost points you.
Follow this path 850m to the east, along the Tjøtaelva river. If the river has flooded the path, then go parallel to the path (off-trail) until you're back on a dry path. Pay attention to when the path turns south and crosses a slab section. This section can be slightly awkward when wet.
The route gradually turns to the west and climbs up to the Sauskårholten viewpoint (N61.65705 E6.83428 - not marked) at approx. 960 MSL. The path is well worn and also marked by small cairns or red paint. Sauskårholten offers a tremendous view towards the surrounding glaciers and mountains. Those who are not comfortable with steep and exposed terrain may choose to turn around here.
Those who are determined to reach the high point, must continue up the ridge - in the south-southeast direction. The first notable scrambling point begins at 1150 MSL (N61.65463 E6.83670). This section can also be quite awkward when wet. Proceed up the ridge and find yet another fine viewpoint at 1380 MSL (N61.64839 E6.84047). In 2010, there was a wooden box with some paper sheets (the visitor register) that you could sign into. Apparently, this point is the "unofficial" Kattanakken high point. Note that just below this point, you will find the hardest "technical" point along the entire route. The short climb is easy, but a narrow ledge can be cumbersome - especially if you're wearing a backpack. Consider taking it off before climbing up or down.
The true high point (N61.64469 E6.84393) is found 450 meters further to the southeast - marked by a bolt and a tiny cairn. If you want to "touch" the glacier, then go left when you're just above the glacier front. The terrain to your right is a bit steep, and scree makes things more difficult.