Midtfjell seen from Osa
Midtfjell (center mountain) lives up to its name through the spectacular 360 degrees view. From the summit, one clearly see the Folgefonna peninsula, Oksen, Ingebjørgfjellet, Karaldenuten, Herdabreida, Raundalsegga, Vassfjøra, Onen, Storeflåtten and Hardangerjøkulen. Midtfjell (also sometimes referred to as Midtnuten) is located on the NE side Oksenhalvøya (Oksen peninsula), where a long ridgewalk towards SW also take you over Ingebjørgfjellet (1210m) and Oksen (1241m) before you reach the Hardangerfjord.
Those who have taken the Bruravik-Brimnes ferry across Eidfjorden have probably noticed Midtfjell, rising over 1200m above Bruravik. Those who have not, have missed the view to a grand mountain. Midtfjell's primary factor - or rise compared to a higher mountain - is among the absolute highest in Hordaland Fylke.
Midtfjell's factor towards the higher Raundalsegga mountains is 912m just west of lake Espedalsvatnet. Last 5m contour line is 345m, giving an interpolated saddle of 343m.
Note: Class ratings are in reference to YDS (Yosemite Decimal System).
Several trails lead up to Midtfjell. The trail described below runs from Hallanger, more than 1100m below Midtfjell summit, on the south side. The route was hiked in winter, but we managed to follow the trail almost all the way to the summit ridge. This is probably a easy trail in summer, but is graded to class 2 due to a boulder section which probably doesn't offer a trail. In winter conditions, this is a very strenuous hike. If the summit ridge is suspected icy, crampons and axe should be brought.
Hallanger - Midtfjell (winter)
Either you come from Norheimsund or Voss, you must drive through the Vallavik tunnel (approx 7km long) towards Bruravik. Immediately after you drive out of the tunnel, exit right onto a smaller, paved road. Follow this road for 200-300m and exit right at the sign "Hallanger 1,5". Follow the road to Hallanger upwards. Pass the first group of houses. Just before the last group of buildings, notice a small forest road going up to the left. This is where the trail starts. Find a place to park with good judgement.
The forest road runs NW and pass a couple of gates. After a while, the forest road makes a sharp turn NE. On the way, you will see a trailsign towards "Dalsete". Ignore this one, and continue to the end of the road. Next to a stream, another "Dalsete" sign points up to the left. Follow this trail upwards.
Above you, from left to right, you see Disk (a false summit), Midtfjell and Grimsnuten. Grimsnuten is very characteristic, with a steep drop towards Midtfjell. The trail will take you to the far end (SW) of Disk, mainly traversing the hillside. The general direction is NW. Be aware of a plateau early on where the trail turns NE for a short section before it once again resumes the NW direction.
The trail is easy to follow all the way to a boulder section below Disk that resembles an avalance area. If the trail is covered by snow, look for corridors in the terrain. On the other side of the wide boulder section, the trail runs close to the mountain and you should ascend through birch bushes once the steep cliff section above you ends. The summer trail continues NW and joins the ridge further away.
Once on the ridge, the trail is easy all the way to the summit. First, the ridge takes you up to Disk. A short section of the trail up to disk require crampons/axe when icy. One slip and you can fall a long way down. However, you're never exposed on this ridge. From Disk, you have Midtfjell in clear sight. You descend slightly before the ridge takes you up on the west side of the summit. On this ridge, you can study the magnificent drop towards Hallanger. When you reach the Midtfjell cairn, you see the true summit cairn 5 minutes further in on the summit plateau.
The title for this trip is "A wonderful nightmare". It began when my friend Petter Bjørstad called me and said that his son - Pål Jørgen (PJ) was eager to do a hike. The weather forecast promised rain or snow, and due to the amount of snow in the mountains, it was clear that we couldn't go too high. After some analysis, Midtfjell turned out as the #1 candidate.
We got a good start. The trailhead was easy to find, and 10:45AM we were on our way. Petter, PJ, Troll-the-dog and I. The weather wasn't too bad. Cloudy, but no winds or rain. And Troll was running in circles. But soon after we hit the forest trail, the snow forced Troll into the backpack. The trail was however easy to follow, even if we saw no trace of it up the forest. After a while, the hike became awfully strenuous. Around 600m, we encountered deep loose snow. We took turns in building a corridor, and as long as we were traversing below the south face, it was quite manageable. But as we began the ascent from 700m, the snowdepth was at least 100cm. And as we left the trail to hit the ridge straight on, the terrain got seriously steep. With snow up above our waist, the struggle was overwhelming. I made some frantic calculations on when we would reach the summit with 1m/minute progress. Petter expressed his opinion of the route through "I would be quite surprised if we met someone coming down this way.." I enjoy his form of understatements.
I was also quite amused by PJ's ability to handle obstacles. Due to his much lighter weight, he "scrambled" the snow without sinking to much. Except for one place, where we heard "Dad! I've fallen into a *really deep* hole". There was no anxiety in his voice. He was amused by the fact that only his head was above the hole. After pulling him out of there, we entered dense bush terrain. Of course, the snow is (if possible) even more rotten around bushes. Troll was seriously complaining, taking one whip after the other.
Long at last, we arrived the ridge, and the progress got much better. I felt the strength disappear on the way up the ridge to Disk. And Troll had been whining in my ear for the last hour. If it was because he was fed up or cold, I don't know. Moral was low. But on Disk, we finally got Midtfjell in view, and I felt the strength came back. I was lagging behind, but caught up with the group quickly. The goal was in sight! I was more happy than usual to reach the summit, excactly 4 hours from the trailhead.
On the summit, we were blessed with sunshine and hilarious views. It's a place where one should stay at least an hour. But as I hadn't been able to keep the snow out of my boots, I was seriously freezing. After 15 minutes, we headed down. The descent was obviously much more fun than the ascent. And thanks to our wide corridor in the snow, we reached the trailhead 1,5 hours after leaving the summit. We saw a stroke of sunlight on Midtfjell as we headed home, and agreed that we had been ridiculously fortunate with the weather on this very special hike.
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