Norwegian Mountains

Gygrastolen, 1345m

Mountain area : Folgefonnhalvøya
Fylke/Kommune : Hordaland/Kvinnherad
Map : 1215-II Varaldsøyna; (Statens Kartverk, Norge 1:50 000)
Primary Factor: 247m
Hiked : May 2002, Aug 2005
See also : Petter's Gygrastolen page
See also : Laurdalstind
See also : Bjørndalstindane
See also : Juklavasskruna
See also : Melderskin
Gygrastolen seen from Melderskin

Gygrastolen seen from Melderskin
My dog Troll has a private moment on a rock

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Gygrastolen is located just northeast of the mighty "Rosendal alps" in Kvinnherad, with the Folgefonna glacier nearby towards the east. Two ridges lead up to the mountain from above Ænes by the Hardangerfjord, forming a basin below the summit on the west side. The ridges connect to the summit via two narrow and exposed aretes. From the eastern ridge, one can advance further east onto the Lægdakruna plateau, and subsequently the Folgefonna glacier. Alternatively, descend via Ænesdalen valley.

Due to the narrow and exposed aretes, the summit can only be reached by hikers being comfortable with exposure, or as part of a roped team. The majority of visitors will settle for the trig. point (1339m) on the eastern ridge or just before the arete on the western ridge. Skrunten (1046m) is a viewpoint on the western ridge that is a popular target, and you can follow a marked trail all the way to this point. From Skrunten and to the top, boulder is the dominating feature.

The arete that connects the western ridge to the summit is approx. 30-40m long and very airy. The arete has two short pitches that require scrambling/climbing. The first is rated class 3 and the second class 4. Both pitches are extremely airy, but the climbing itself is fairly easy. See more details in the route description below. I have not yet climbed the arete connecting the eastern ridge to the summit, but I believe it is correct to state that this route is more challenging.

The name Gygrastolen comes from the legend of Gygren (mythical figure) who lived on the mountain. Gygren tried to pull the Varaldsøyna island across the Hardangerfjord. Gygren slipped, fell backwards and created the basin below the summit. "Stolen" (as in Gygrastolen) means "the chair".

Height and Primary Factor

Gygrastolen (1215-II: -, Ø.K.: -, Norgesglasset: 1345m (3Km) has a primary factor of approx. 247m towards the higher Kråkenibba (1348m). The saddle is found on the ridge between the two tops. Ref. the 1215-II map (20m contours), you cross the 1100m contours on the high route, but not 1080m. The adjacent 1100m contours are close, so the saddle height has been interpolated to 1098m.

Gygrastolen's height on the 1215-II map is 1339m, but this is clearly the trig. point on the eastern ridge. On Norgesglasset (zoom->3Km) the height 1345m is seen. My GPS reading on the summit (32 V 341920 6661435) was in the range 1348-1350m.

Trail descriptions:

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.

Ænes - Gygrastolen via western ridge (summer/autumn)

Difficulty : Class 4 (short pitch)
Comments : Extremely airy aretes
Distance : Approx. 6Km to the top
Time : 7-9 hours to the summit
(less if ropes are not used)
Starting Elev.: Approx. 45m
Vertical Gain : Approx. 1300m

Map of the area
Map of the area
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Detailed map
Detailed map
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From Bergen, follow highway E16 (Oslo). At the Trengereid junction (approx. 25 minutes from Bergen), turn right onto highway RV7. When you arrive Bjørkheim by the Samnangerfjord, drive through two tunnels, and turn right onto highway RV48 (Tysse/Mundheim/Rosendal) shortly after the second tunnel.

Follow highway RV48 to Mundheim by Hardangerfjorden and turn right towards Gjermundshamn (RV49). Take the Gjermundshamn - Løfallstrand ferry. Sometimes this ferry makes a stop at Varaldsøyni island. Allow 2 hours for driving from Bergen to Gjermundshamn, and dialing 177 (Norwegian short-dial for traffic information) for ferry departures might be a good idea. Onboard the ferry, obtain ferry route in the cafeteria.

From Løfallstrand, turn left onto the road towards Odda (RV551). Drive approx. 12Km and turn right towards "Ænes kirke" (a white sign with a church symbol). Drive up the hill (stay right in a road fork) and park in front of the church. Don't block for traffic on a side road by the barn.

The route

Through the forest and up to the summit ridge

The road forks by the church. A rack of mailboxes are seen between the two roads. Follow the road to the right. After a while you cross a bridge over the stream from Lake Gygrastølsvatnet. On top of the next hill (approx. 1,15Km from the trailhead), turn left onto a forest road that takes you back to the stream at approx. 230m elevation (stay left in the forest road fork at 210m elevation). Just before the stream, turn right onto a muddy tractor road. You will see "Skrunten" painted on a rock. Follow this muddy road for approx. 100m and then turn right onto a narrow (but visible) forest path that is marked by red paint on the trees.

You are now on the path to Skrunten. Above the tree-line, the red paint is found on rocks. Between 320m and 380m elevation, it is easy to lose sight of the path, as the path also continues up slabs along a stream. Take the necessary time to make sure you are on the path. Look for the red marks. Above this point, the path runs on the far west side of the eastern ridge to Gygrastolen. You have good views down to Ænesdalen.

From Skrunten, continue towards Gygrastolen. Any route is a good route. The terrain is boulder and handholds for support may be needed the higher you get. In winter, ice-axe and crampons may be necessary on this route.

The arete before the summit

Before you can touch the summit cairn, you need to cross a 30-40m narrow and *extremely* exposed arete. Some will say this route is "impossible", while others say the route is trivial. As such, some facts are necessary. The arete has two points which require climbing moves. The moves are short and easy, but the exposure is tremendous. Leave your backpack behind, unless you plan to traverse Gygrastolen.

Point 1:

Descend to the arete by lying on your chest on a large, firm rock and slide yourself backwards down to a rock where you can stand. An adult can place her/his hands on top of this rock when standing on the rock below. If you are unroped, you have to make sure that you can perform this move in a very controlled manner. The rock you stand on is not bigger than your two boots. Turn 180 degrees and carefully proceed 2-3 meters until you are on the safer part of the ridge.

When you return to this point, use a distinct crack to your left and use jam and stem techniques to get to the top of the rock. Once you are in this crack, there is nothing below you. If you can't fit inside the crack (backpack, etc.), push (stem) yourself directly up.

The class 3 move on the arete

The class 3 move on the arete

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The pitch solution is obvious and you don't need to look hard for hand- and footholds. This (short) move qualifies as a class 3 move.

Point 2:

After crossing the arete (trivial, but show caution) you need to get off the arete and onto the summit. Place your right foot at in an obvious crack. Put your right arm inside the same crack and find handholds deep inside the crack. As you partly move in loose air, it is important that you have a good hold. Next, push yourself up to the top of this rock. Advance one more level by using a *loose* rock as aid. Do not rely on this rock, but it can be used as "help" along the way.

This point (loose rock) can also be descended face out, while you need to downclimb the lower point face in (as you climbed it up).

The class 4 move on the arete

The class 4 move on the arete

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The pitch solution is less obvious, as your handhold is deep inside a crack. This move qualifies as a class 4 move.

The summit

The high point is just above the narrow arete, marked by a summit. If you walk across the summit plateau, you will see parts of the arete that connects to the eastern ridge. This route will hopefully be documented in 2006.

Trip report Aug 27 2005


This hike had been planned for some time. My colleague Agnete told me that she would like to visit one of the more challenging mountains in the Uskedalen-Rosendal region, and I suggested Gygrastolen. Together with Petter and Pål Jørgen Bjørstad, I had been to Gygrastolen back in May 2002. It was a wonderful hike, and I wanted to visit this mountain again. Parts of my motivation was to test my head for height by traversing unroped the arete just before the summit. My friend Torbjørn also wanted to come along for this hike and he would along bring his girlfriend. We had set the date to Aug. 27 and would stick to the plan unless severe weather would make us change plans. So there would be five of us, as I had to bring along my small dachshund "Troll", recently returned from a 1-month vacation in northern Norway.

The weather is always an issue, all year around. As the days before the hike were getting fewer, more and more time was spent checking the forecasts. The weather had been very unstable the last week. Mixed rain and sunshine. Fresh snow had fallen in the higher mountains. I called Storm's weather service the day before the hike and got a fairly accurate picture of what we could expect. We decided that the trip was on, and agreed to meet at Ænes church 10:00AM Saturday morning. Agnete and me drove from Bergen, while Torbjørn and his girlfriend would drive from Moster via Stord. Unfortunately, Torbjørn's girlfriend did not feel well this morning and Torbjørn came alone.

To the arete

When we left Ænes church 10:25AM, we had blue sky above us and everything looked good. We could see that fresh snow had fallen on Gygrastolen, but the amounts were insignificant. A local man that I talked to just before the hike recommended a route that was different from our route back in 2002. He said the stream from Gygrastølsvatnet (which normally is just that - a stream) would probably be a small river due to the recent rain. We stopped in Rosendal earlier in the day and we noticed that the stream between Laurdalstind and Melderskin looked furious. This guy was probably right and we decided to follow his recommendations. We got a good description of the forest roads and had no problems locating the forest path that would take us up through the forest.

The muddy forest road and trails was not Troll's idea of a good day, but knowing both Agnete and Torbjørn well, he put effort and energy into keeping up. When we passed Skrunten 12:30PM, the boulder gave him further challenges. As we headed up from Skrunten, two rainshowers had already passed and the third was on the way. The third actually turned into snow due to the elevation and after a while, nothing looked like August anymore. Troll put up his very best in the lower part of the boulder between Skrunten and Gygrastolen, but I had to more or less carry him in my arms the remaining 150 vertical meters.

The arete and the summit

We reached the arete 13:15PM in bad weather and fog. Torbjørn and Agnete felt more comfortable crossing the arete being attached to a rope, and we created a base before the arete. We would leave the backpacks and climb light up to the summit. Although I might have thought about carrying the dog to the very summit, I had now abandoned the idea. I felt sorry for the dog. We were all cold, but he seemed even colder.

While Agnete and Torbjørn were carrying their personal climbing gear, I was carrying a 50m rope, a back-up 20m light rope, slings, nuts and carabiners. The backpack was cutting deep into my shoulders and I was glad to get it off my back. I was the one in the group with most mountaineering experience and we agreed that I should set up the protection. We agreed to set up a fixed rope (with a few runners in-between) across the arete and connect to the rope via slings and prusik knots. I had never been in the sharp end of a rope before, but even if task was fairly easy, things take time the first time around. Torbjørn, who was belaying me, and Agnete turned quite cold while waiting for me to finish. I went back to the others to make sure they were properly secured before they headed across the arete.

Nobody had any troubles with the climbing spots and even if they found the arete tremendously airy, it was easy to tell that they quickly acclimated to the exposure. Gygrastolen was also a personal milestone regarding my own fear of heights. Lots of fear was left on this mountain after having been up here back in 2002. We reached the summit cairn 14:40PM and headed across the plateau to have a look at the other arete. Because of the bad weather and being quite cold, this route was not an option. We couldn't see much, either.

My GPS shifted betwen 1348 and 1350m. I found this odd, as I had always thought this mountain was 1339m. Surely, the GPS would not be that much off. When I studied the map after the hike, I noticed for the first time that the 1339m point was on the eastern ridge. I was determined to use 1347m as the "new" Gygrastolen height before I noticed that 1345m was used on one of the Norgesglasset maps.


We turned around and once Agnete and Torbjørn were back on the other side, I told Torbjørn to pull in the rope. I wanted to leave this mountain having climbed the arete unroped. This had a practical side to it, as I plan to traverse the arete to the eastern ridge in the future. Essential time is saved if I can get to Gygrastolen summit unroped, and then start focusing on the eastern arete. I was very happy about the fact that the extreme exposure didn't affect me, and that I felt very safe and calm as I headed back to the others.

Poor Troll was trembling. If it was the famous dachs tremble, or if he actually was freezing cold wasn't easy to tell. In any case, the tremble stopped when I pulled out his lunch-box. After a short rest, we began the descent. I had to carry Troll in my arms down the upper part, but he walked by himself from 1200m elevation (with some occasional support here and there). We took it slow and easy down the mountain, allowing time for pauses. As we were approaching the forest road, Agnete said that we might reach the 17:50PM ferry to Gjermundshamn. I strongly disapprove of discussing ferry schedules on the way down a mountain, but now the time was known and I quickly understood that the chance of reaching the ferry was marginal. At best. But yet knowing that there was a slight chance of making it. It was Saturday evening, and the next ferry would leave 1,5 hours later. We increased our pace (substantially) and poor Troll started to lag behind. We shouted and tried to encourage the (near) 12-year old, wet, cold, fed-up and tired dog to walk faster. It didn't help. I was amazed that he didn't lie down in protest.

The car engine was already running when Agnete and Troll arrived at the trailhead. We said a quick good-bye to Torbjørn (who was heading back to Moster) before going for the ferry. Some quick math suggested that we could *just* make it. Which we did by half a minute. The time we arrived the trailhead will remain disclosed as this will only be incriminating. Agnete now swears that she will never again announce the ferry schedule on the way down a mountain. Besides this "hectic" ending, it was a great hike. Good company, shifting weather and some challenges along the way. I am already looking forward to my next visit to Gygrastolen.

Pictures from the Aug 27 2005 hike:

Note: The arete is referred to as ridge on the 2005 pictures and sometimes saddle on the 2002 pictures. I have not been consistent here.

To the arete

1. A quick stop in Rosendal (170KB) 2. A quick stop in Rosendal (220KB) 3. Gygrastolen seen from the trailhead (137KB) 4. The trailhead (204KB) 5. Above the tree-line (285KB) 6. Hardangerfjorden (416KB) 7. Aenes (228KB) 8. Gygrastolen comes into view (200KB) 9. Shifting weather (142KB) 10. Torbjorn (149KB) 11. Agnete (161KB) 12. On the way up from Skrunten (156KB) 13. Hardangerfjorden once more (230KB) 14. On the way to Gygrastolen (188KB) 15. View down to Skrunten (200KB) 16. Is this really August? (235kB) 17. High on Gygrastolen (115KB)

The arete and the summit

18. Torbjorn takes a look at the arete (183KB) 19. The arete in greater detail (218KB) 20. It is snowing (146KB) 21. Not optimal weather (180KB) 22. Fixing the rope (223KB) 23. Aenesdalen (199KB) 24. Torbjorn - cold while belaying (149KB) 25. Agnete completing the arete (217KB) 26. Picture says more than words (200KB) 27. The summit plateau (216KB) 28. Agnete on the summit (152KB)


29. Torbjorn descending to the arete (241KB) 30. Agnete descending to the arete (161KB) 31. Torbjorn on the arete (142KB) 32. Agnete and Torbjorn on the arete (146KB) 33. Agnete and Torbjorn on the arete (125KB) 34. Agnete and Torbjorn on the arete (194KB) 35. Torbjorn leaving the arete (194KB) 36. Agnete leaving the arete (169KB) 37. Looking back on the arete (237KB) 38. Back on safer ground (133KB) 39. The poor dog and his lunch (262KB) 40. Descending Gygrastolen (265KB) 41. Rosendal mountains (235KB) 42. Nearby mountains to the northeast (148KB) 43. Agnete (148KB) 44. Torbjorn (200KB)

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Trip report May 5 2002

After a cumbersome hike to Laurdalstind (1307m) on May 1st, 2002, in real bad weather, we were still inspired by the rugged and beautiful landscape. We agreed that one more hike in the area was called for, and we settled for Gygrastolen on May 5th. And this time Petter would bring his son, Pål Jørgen (PJ), age 13. A seasoned climber with more than 40 mountains > 4000m, in addition to a heap of other summits, on his CV.

Information about Gygrastolen is hard to come by on the internet, and the information we got hold of, was not enough to determine the best approach towards the top. At the trailhead, we met a local guy who knew all about the mountain and suggested we should climb the western ridge. He also assumed we would be able to advance onto the eastern saddle, from the summit. He also suggested a better trail than indicated on the map. With much more solid information, we went up the mountain in good spirit.

May 5th was spring at its best. No clouds, bright sunshine, warm air and a beautiful mountain ahead. Days like these are seldom on the western side of Norway. At approx. 700m we ran into the snow, which didn't hold well. It was cumbersome and the sun, combined with the bright snow, made our day warmer than we anticipated. We reached Skrunten base at approx. 1000m and looked up the steep slope leading towards the summit. Higher up the slope, the angle got steeper, and we made sure our axes had a solid grip in the snow.

Finally we had the summit and the saddle ahead of us. There was no wind at all. We realized the exposure was significant and chose to rope up. Petter examined the saddle and determined that a belay was called for. Petter took the lead, PJ was second and I was last. The first vertical move was a little too high for PJ, and while Petter belayed him, I had a solid grip in his sweater. The exposure presented itself as I laid flat on the rock and looked down to the vertical drops on each side of the saddle. Advancing the saddle was fun, and we took our time, enjoying every moment and every view. The move up to the summit called for some handywork from Petter, as a lot of snow had to be removed, hopefully revealing a way up. It did, and soon we were on the Gygrastolen summit, 1339m.

After lots of pictures and some refreshments, Petter examined the east side of the summit. We had planned a rappel down to the saddle, but there was far too much snow. Although doable, in Petter's opinion, it would take considerable time. We decided to head back the way we came up. We again belayed over the saddle, moved down the steep slope towards Skrunten and was back at the car 7,5 hours after we left it.

An unforgettable day!

See also Petter's trip report.

Pictures from the May 5 2002 hike:

Move cursor to read notes, and click on the images to see full version.
Some of the thumbnails may have been cropped to fit the format

1. Ulvanosa seen from the ferry (170KB) 2. Gygrastolen seen from the ferry (110KB) 3. Petter and PJ at the parking (146KB) 4. The trailhead (162KB) 5. The church and its neighbours (203KB) 6. Gygrastolen seen above the forest (240KB) 7. Kvamskogen and Hardangerfjord seen from the trail (259KB) 8. Lake Gygrastolvatnet (243KB) 9. Aenes seen from above (208KB) 10. Getting close to the mountain (137KB) 11. Petter is catching up (115KB) 12. PJ is eager to get going (118KB) 13. Awesome landscape appears (237KB) 14. The Rosendal alps (363KB) 15. The north side of the summit (209KB) 16. The south side of the summit (229KB) 17. Buckle up! (183KB) 18. The saddle seen from above (502KB) 19. Feeling good! (196KB) 20. The saddle seen from above (263KB) 21. PJ and me on the saddle (190KB) 22. PJ completes the saddle (203KB) 23. I am about to complete the saddle (183KB) 24. Petter and PJ on the summit (110KB) 25. Petter and PJ on the summit (133KB) 26. PJ and me on the summit (146KB) 27. Folgefonna glacier (246KB) 28. Folgefonna glacier (322KB) 29. Kvamskogen and Hardangerfjord seen from the summit (127KB) 30. View towards the Hardangerfjord (186KB) 31. Rosendal alps seen from the summit (148KB) 32. Rosendal alps seen from the summit (148KB) 33. The saddle to the eastern ridge (234KB) 34. Strapped to the mountain, on the way back (164KB) 35. PJ finishes the saddle on the way home (377KB) 36. Petter examines the summit (188KB) 37. Skrunten seen from above (204KB) 38. PJ climbs down the steep slope from the summit (105KB) 39. Petter making tracks down the slope (95KB) 40. PJ on the way down the steep slope (184KB) 41. PJ on the way down the steep slope (105KB) 42. Gygrastolen seen after coming down (114KB) 43. Petter celebrates the summit (105KB) 44. Father and son descend from yet another mountain (90KB) 45. Gygrastolen seen from further down the trail (114KB) 46. Melderskin seen from the ferry (254KB) 47. Malmangersnuten seen from the ferry (236KB)

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Pictures from other hikes:

Move cursor to read notes, and click on the images to see full version.
Some of the thumbnails may have been cropped to fit the format

1. Gygrastolen seen from Daurmaalsegga (103KB) 2. Gygrastolen seen from near Gjermundshamn (123KB) 3. Gygrastolen seen from Folgefonna 1662m (90KB) 4. Gygrastolen seen from Aenes, Apr 2003 (95KB) 5. Rosendal alps seen from Snerta (413KB) 6. Rosendal mountains seen from Kinno (373KB) 7. Gygrastolen in the distance (110KB) 8. Gygrastolen seen from the Tysnes ferry (194KB) 9. Rosendal alps seen on the way to Folgefonna N (475KB) 10. Rosendal mountains (388KB) 11. Gygrastolen detail (306KB) 12. Gygrastolen seen from Kvitafjellet (165KB) 13. North view from Kvitafjellet (897KB) 14. Kvinnherad mountains seen from Gråeggi (206KB) 15. Rosendal mountains seen from Veten (552KB) 16. Kvinnherad mountains (196KB) 17. 50mm panorama from Grønlinutane (1054KB) 18. Gygrastolen-Melderskin range seen from Grønlinutane (688KB) 19. Kvinnherad mountains (190KB) 20. Gygrastolen region (330KB) 21. Gygrastolen (304KB) 22. Folgefonna glaciers (317KB) 23. Gygrastolen (386KB) 24. Southern Folgefonna glacier and Rosendal alps (391KB) 25. Gygrastolen 26. Gygrastolen

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