Norwegian Mountains, Sogn og Fjordane
Snønipa is the highest point on the Myklebustbreen glacier - Norway's 7th largest glacier - 57km² (source: wikipedia). Myklebustbreen connects to Jostedalsbreen (Norway's largest glacier) through the Oldeskaret pass (approx. 1100m). Blåfjellskilden by Myklebustbreen is also the source of the famous Olden natural spring water.
Snønipa has a characteristic form and is easy to identify from a long distance. Especially when viewed from Sunnmørsalpene in the north. Point 1739m is located in Stryn, Point 1710m is a tri-municipality point (Stryn, Jølster, Gloppen) while Snønipa is divided between Jølster and Gloppen. As such, Snønipa is also the highest mountain in the Sunnfjord region.
There are several routes to Snønipa, but this page will focus on a ski-trip from Sanddal (northwest of Myklebustbreen and near Byrkjelo) to Stardalen in the south (via Haugabreen). This route is approx. 27km and - as such - strenuous. But as there are no difficult sections, the route is quite popular. The route up Haugabreen is one of the normal routes for those who only want to visit Snønipa.
Snønipa (Norge 1:50,000: 1827m, Økonomisk Kartverk: -, UTM 32 V 377770 6840496) has a primary factor of 737m towards the higher parent mountain Jostedalsbreen glacier. The defining saddle (approx. 32 V 382020 6838538) is found in Oldeskaret. Ref. Norge 1:50,000 (20m contours), the saddle is within the range 1080-1100m, interpolated to 1090m.
Point 1739m on Myklebustbreen (Norge 1:50,000: 1739m, Økonomisk Kartverk: 1739,11m, UTM 32 V 379508 6846155) has a primary factor of 127m towards the higher parent Snønipa. The defining saddle (approx. 32 V 379464 6844278) is found in between points 1654m and 1710m. Ref. Norge 1:50,000 (20m contours), the saddle is defined through a fixed point - 1612m.
Point 1710m on Myklebustbreen (Norge 1:50,000: 1710m, Økonomisk Kartverk: 1710,01m, UTM 32 V 379508 6846155) has a primary factor of 94m towards the higher parent Snønipa. The defining saddle (approx. 32 V 378587 6842404) is found in between points 1710m and Snønipa. Ref. Norge 1:50,000 (20m contours), the saddle is defined through a fixed point - 1616m.
Google's interactive map. You can zoom, pan and click on the markers.
Route 1: Sanddal - Høyset (Stardalen) - Spring ski-trip
This route description is valid per May 2012
(all distances are approx. distances)
This route description starts at the place Sanddal by near Byrkjelo and ends at Høyset in Stardalen. You need to organize the trip so that you have a way to return to your starting point. If Snønipa is your primary goal, then both places could be your starting point. Study the route description to fit your own route.
From Byrkjelo (N61.73291 E6.50524), follow RV60 in the direction of Stryn and Utvikfjellet. After 0,85km (N61.73960 E6.50880), turn right towards Myklebust (signposted). Follow this road for 4km to the Sandalsstøylen trailhead (N61.74514 E6.57664). Find parking here.
Follow the forest road signposted Sandalstøylen (the signpost has only one 'd'...). Follow this road for 2,8km upwards until it ends at Fossheimsætra (N61.75158 E6.60579). Hopefully, you're already skiing, and you don't have to ski all the way to the cabins...
On your way up the glacier, you're going to face 4 choices; a) ski to point 1736m because in winter and spring, this is probably the highest point on this side of the glacier, b) ski to point 1739m because this is the highest point (of the two) on the map, c) visit both of these points or d) continue straight between the two if you're only interested in Snønipa.
Point 1739m (N61.72939 E6.71938) is solid rock just beneath the snow. Upon our visit, we couldn't see across point 1736m (N61.73141 E6.68509), which suggests that the snow dome was higher.
Continue south towards point 1710m - a 3,4km trip from point 1739m. From the summit (N61.70167 E6.71928), you have a good view towards Snønipa. Descend on the southwest side of 1710m, cross the glacier and aim for Snønipa's west ridge. Follow the ridge up to the Snønipa cairn (N61.67815 E6.69034) and enjoy one of the finest viewpoints in western Norway.
Descend towards point 1670m and then east down to Haugabreen glacier. Make sure that you know that the glacier is safe enough for skiing before you go this way. That said, Haugabreen is perhaps the most popular skiing route to Snønipa. Once on glacier, stay in center until you're off. There are crevasses on the sides.
Continue south to Haugastøylen (N61.63206 E6.72724) where you follow the forest road down to Høyset in Stardalen and - hopefully - your transport back to Sanddal. Be aware of avalanches in Haugadalen.