Hjørundfjorden cuts deep in between two large peninsulas that hold the most rugged and wild mountains on Sunnmøre - the southern part of Møre and Romsdal Fylke (county). Kolåstinden is located on the westernmost peninsula, where the valleys Standalddalen/Follestaddalen and Bondalen form three major mountain regions. Kolåstinden is the highest peak north of Standaldalen/Follestaddalen, and this region is also known as "Kolåshalvøya" (the Kolås peninsula). Dalegubben (1344m) dominate the Standaldalen - Bondalen region while Skårasalen (1542m) dominate the region south of Bondalen.
A popular peak
Skårasalen is mostly visited in the spring (when the avalanches has gone) and in summer. Despite the wild surroundings and the mountain height, this is an easy mountain to climb on skis. Thus, it has become one of the most popular skiing mountains on Sunnmøre. Only when the snow up to the very summit (which is not steep) is frozen, crampons may be useful.
The normal ascent route runs from the Kvistaddalen valley, a branch of Bondalen valley that connects the place Sæbø by Hjørundfjorden to the Ørsta region. While most skiers descend the ascent route, some ski down the Lisje Skåradalen (via a couloir in the upper part) down to the place Skår by Hjørundfjorden. A ferry brings you to Sæbø (via Leknes on the other side of Hjørundfjorden);.
A rugged ridge
Skårasalen extends to the southwest via a very rugged and spectacular arete called Kvistadkjerringane. On the far side of the arete, you find the peak Søre Skårtind which marks the beginning of a broader ridge containing the tops Maratind, Kjerringøyra and Utolhornet. Utolhornet has tremendous views towards Hjørundfjorden. These tops are accessible from Skår, but the approach is difficult. The normal route runs from Kvistaddalen via the lakes Fjellvatna. You can find route descriptions in the popular book "Skiturar i Sunnmørsalpane".
It was once said about Kvistadkjerringane; "it would take about a week to do the entire ridge, even if it were found possible". Some of the pinnacles have names, such as Skårekongen (1.st asc. Flem/Hagen, 1933) and Jeksla (1st. asc. Hagen/E. Heen, 1933). Arbuthnot and Johannes Vigdal ascended Skårasalen, or Skårtind as it was called then, July 29, 1897. The book "Sunnmøre" by Kristoffer Randers states the ascent was done on a ridge from Skår, while the booklet "Rock climbs in Sunnmøre" states that the 1st ascent was done via the south ridge. If they started at Skår, they had to traverse the pinnacles. This does not collaborate with the 1st asc. records of the pinnacles, and I ask the question if they started from Kvistaddalen.
The booklet states; "Skårtind by S. ridge. 1st. asc. 29.7.2897 G. Arbuthnot and J. Vigdal. Good sport. One can have as much or as little as one likes, since it is always possible to turn difficult parts on the W. face, which is broken up into easy ledges of grass and scree
Skårasalen has the highest primary factor in Møre and Romsdal county, documented on this page by Petter Bjørstad. As a high primary factor is always a good candidate for tremendous views, Skårasalen is certainly a good viewpoint candidate. And given the central location in Sunnmøre, it should be safe to claim that this is one of the VERY finest viewpoints in Sunnmøre (if not the finest). Take a look at the panoramas further down on this page, and judge for yourself. Bear in mind that the pictures were taken on a very hazy day.
... is point 1377m, 1,8Km northwest of Skårasalen. More precisely, Storhornet is point 1358m 580m north of point 1377m, but since 1377m is the highest point of this ridge, it should also "earn" a name. Storhornet is an easy top to reach from the Storhornet - Skårasalen col, where you descend to either Kvistaddalen or Skår.
Sources for the above information has been "Rock Climbs in Sunnmøre" (Norway Travel Association, 1953) and "Sunnmøre", 5th edition (Kristoffer Randers).
Skårasalen (M711: 1542m, Ø.K.: -, UTM 32 V 369051 6895171) has a primary factor of 1384m towards the higher parent mountain Storhornet (1600m, and not the same Storhornet as mentioned above). The defining saddle (approx. UTM 32 V 365697 6882246) is found near Bueide in Skjåstaddalen. The saddle is located between Lake Bueidstjønna (draining south) and Lake Buvatnet (draining north). Ref. Økonomisk Kartverk (5m contours), the saddle is within the range 156-160m, interpolated to 158m.
Storhornet has a primary factor of 167m. The Skårasalen - Storhornet col is within the range 1201-1220m, interpolated to 1210m.
1. My GPS measured 1546m as average elevation over 20 minutes.
2. Ref. my GPS; the summit is 53m SE of point 1542m on the Garmin GPS map (the actual summit is actually outside the 1500m contour).
3. My GPS measured 1380m on Storhornet as average elevation over 10 minutes.
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.
Kvistaddalen - Skårasalen (on skis in spring)
From Ålesund, follow highway E39 towards Bergen/Volda to the ferry at Solavågen. Take the ferry over to Festøya. Turn right in the direction of Volda. Follow highway E39 approx. 35,5Km to a junction in Ørsta. Turn left onto road RV655 (towards Sæbø). Drive approx. 21,1Km to the place Kvistad and turn right to the road towards Kvistaddalen. A sign that confirms you are on the right way is found on your left after 150m. The road turns from paved to gravel after 400m, and after 1,1Km, you have to pay toll. Per May 2006, the fee for passenger cars was NOK 30,-.
The road is closed in winter, and the snowmelt will determine how far up you can drive. In early May, you should expect to reach approx. 400m elevation (not quite all the way to Kvistadsætra). Most likely, the tongue of an avalanche blocks the road, so you need to prepare for a short hike before you can start skiing.
See also Petter Bjørstad's Skårasalen page.
On the M711 map, you will see two streams just east of Årsetsætra. The summer path runs up between these two streams. The winter route follows more or less the summer path, but adjusts for a cumbersome forest. The skiing route runs north of - and alongside - a "regular" avalanche from Skårasalen. In May, the avalanches have normally ended, and the route is considered safe.
The route continues into a gully between Skårasalen and Blåhornet, and is less steep than you may think after looking at the map. From the upper part of this gully, you enter the main (long) hill that leads to Skårasalen summit. As mentioned, the summit *may* require crampons if the snow is frozen, although it can not be said to be airy.
Descend your ascent route, but do stop by Storhornet (point 1377m) which is just a short detour. There is also an outcrop below Skårasalen (marked by 4 standing rocks) which will give great views towards Skårasalen's east face. You may also descend Lisje Skåradalen, but you should check out the ferry departures and time your visit accordingly.
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