Norwegian Mountains, Sogn og Fjordane
Storehaugfjellet (Storehogen) on skis, Nov 17 2002
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This hike has a prologue. Petter, Jacko Koster (a colleague of Petter, from Holland) and I was planning a trip to Daurmål (1444m) in Jølster and Fedalsnibba (1609m) near Stryn this weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to leave Bergen until mid-day Saturday. The plan was then to meet Petter and Jacko at Klakegg, where they would park in order to climb Daurmål. This would be Jacko's first trips on skis in Norway. Petter had found him quite an adult introduction to skiing, I remember thinking. Daurmål was chosen, as it is according to Petter's research, the 22th most prominent mountain in Norway, in terms of primary factor (one has to descend 1225m before anything higher can be climbed)
I arrived Klakegg at 15:15PM, and assumed the others were not too far away. I called Petter on his cell phone, and I heard him yell that they were on the middle of the high plateau, planned to descend on the other side, and wouldn't make it down before it got dark. They were in a white-out and the wind sounded awful. I asked if they had problems, and got a firm "NO!" in return. I was very grateful that we had this conversation, otherwise I would have turned significantly worried when no one showed up by the car. Petter had actually tried to call me several times, but had no coverage. Throughout their trip, they never had coverage again, so I guess we were quite fortunate in that respect.
I drove around the mountain, to a place called Frøystad. The road was narrow and icy, and I was uncomfortable driving up. I rang the doorbell on a house almost at the end of the road, and asked a man where people coming down Daurmål would end up. He got a mighty concerned look on his face, but told me they would most likely arrive at the end of the road. For the next few hours, I was patrolling the road, back and forth, in case they would take a different route down the mountain. I drove over 80Km on this road, altogether. I had to go halfway back to the highway to get cell phone coverage. But there were never any messages. I got fairly confident with the road, and had to help some youngsters who had driven off the road. I dropped them off at the first house which had a farm building next to it. Chances of a tractor being inside should be good. An hour later, on my next "patrol", the car was gone.
I was somewhat concerned about the situation. I knew that they would find their way down, but I had no idea how long it would take. After all, Jacko was an inexperienced skier. I also knew there was a narrow ridge near the summit, that could offer potential problems. The man that explained where they would end up, came out on the road and suggested we should call the rescue service. I told him this was not an option. Not yet, at least.
I had to think hard about when they were likely to come down, and guessed they would be down no later than 19:15PM - 4 hours after the phone call. That would make sense, but I also knew that I most likely would give them the whole night, if necessary. I wandered into the forest, trying to understand what they were seeing up there. There was enough light from the snow, even in the forest. I was convinced that they would be down soon. If someone had been injured, at least the other would show up. It was just a matter of waiting. It became quite apparent that these situations should have been discussed up front.
They arrived at the end of the road just after 19:00PM. And I believed them when they told me they were happy to see me. Or my car.. I was perhaps even more happy to see them. A ten hours hike was now over, and Petter talked about the rough and narrow ridge. And the cumbersome trip down the mountain. I felt sorry for Jacko, but he looked quite OK. What an introduction to skiing...
After picking up Petter's car, we drove to Skei and had a nice dinner at Skei Hotel, entertained by a house band from Bulgaria. It was decided that Fedalsnibba was not an option for the following day. Instead, we decided on Storehaugfjellet near Sogndal. Its primary factor would be among the 100 highest in Norway. More important, the height of 1179m sounded more reasonable, taking the hard hike across Daurmål into consideration.
The early morning drive from Skei to Sogndal was awful. I kept a steady 50Km/h speed on a icy and wet road. I was a bit annoyed with the NOK 150,- fee that I had to pay in order to experience this form of driving. As Petter has what I would call - a much better car, he quickly disappeared out of sight. He did provide driving instructions over the phone, and finally we met at Sogndal airport.
The airport was closed due to fog. We had no map, but assumed the best thing would be to head straight up. Petter insisted I should break the trail. He always gives me the important jobs. The snow depth varied from insignificant to notable, but we kept a steady pace up Glennefjellet, which the mountain was called on this side. We were amazed how high the forest went. At about 800m, the terrain allowed for skiing, and we switch-backed our way up to the mountain plateau.
The interesting question was now - where's the summit? It was a total white-out up there. I found it somewhat amusing when Petter tried to make a route up something that turned out to be almost vertical. It was hard to tell, but we got a clue when he made no progress. After adjusting his course, Petter went ahead while I waited for Jacko. Within a few minutes, he shouted that he had found the summit. I followed his tracks, and was significantly spooked when I had a large black shadow rising up in front of me. We had no clue there was a giant tower up there, but at least it would be reasonable to assume that we had found the highest point. Our GPS readings also agreed to that conclusion. It had taken us 3 hours to the summit, and it was only 12:15PM. Besides the fog, we were quite fortunate about the weather. It was mild and wet, and we didn't suffer from raging winds on the summit plateau. I found the situation a little amusing, and told Jacko - "In case your Dutch friends ask you what Norwegians do in their leisure time..." "Now I know", he responded. I assumed he understood my joke.
Jacko got some practice in skiing downhill in a very cumbersome terrain, where fog and snow became one. Not the optimal conditions, and after a little while he decided to walk down the mountain. Petter and I skied down to 800m, where the forest became dense. It took us only 1,5 hours down to the airport, and soon we were on our way back to Bergen. We took the ferry to Fodnes near Lærdal. From Fodnes, one has to drive through 50Km of tunnels within the first hour, and I was quite dizzy when I arrived Gudvangen. I arrived Bergen around 18:00PM.
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Prior to the Storehaugfjellet hike