Norwegian Mountains, Hordaland
Helgedalsnuten from Langfoss, Sep 13 2008
To the main Helgedalsnuten page (maps, route descriptions, etc.)
Before I left Bergen in 2006, I had attempted to reach top 40 on my by-primary-factor mountain list for Hordaland county. But the list had two "holes" - Helgedalsnuten and Borgundnuten. Helgedalsnuten was a looong drive and a looong walk away. Borgundnuten only needed clever ferry planning (which seemed a bit hopeless before the Halsnøy tunnel opened). But in Sep. 2008, I had to attend a two-day workshop in Bergen - on a Friday and on the following Monday. The weather forecast for the weekend was just brilliant, so it could hardly be more perfect. I decided to go for both tops during the weekend, and invited my good friends Petter and Torbjørn to come along. Because of a bad ankle, Petter had to pass, but Torbjørn signed up. He's also looking at this mountain list every now and then...
The long drive to the trailhead
I chose to drive from Ålesund, and reached Bergen just before dark on Thursday evening. But I had enough daylight to visit my dear Mt. Ulriken before checking in to "Hotel Nattlandsfjell" (Petter's place). After work on Friday, I picked up Torbjørn in Bergen, and then we set course for Osøyro and the ferry from Hattvika. We were on some kind of schedule, as we had agreed to find a campsite before dark. And, we needed to get food. After arriving at Venjaneset, we continued to Gjermundshamn. One ferry had just left, and there were quite a number of cars in line for the next one. If we didn't make the next ferry, we would be far behind schedule. But we made the next ferry to Løfallstrand, as the 2nd last car onboard. As it was getting quite late already, we agreed to shop for food and beverages in Rosendal, then camp in Muradalen.
I like Muradalen a lot. I've camped in Muradalen before, and remembered a spectacular starry sky in the middle of the night. As there were no clouds in the sky, I had my hopes up. We rigged the tent next to the river, as both of us enjoy the sound of running water. The tent was up before dark, and we could enjoy dinner and .. beverages. I slept so well, and I probably dreamt about being on top of Helgedalsnuten the next day. A mountain that I had thought about for so many years. I woke up in the middle of the night and went outside to check out the stars. And I did not get disappointed!
To the mountain
We got up around 7am on Saturday morning, rigged down the campsite and drove to Langfoss. By 9:20am, we were on our way up the mountain trail. A number of sheep were coming down the trail, and since we didn't want them to panic in this rough landscape, we had to scramble around them. A guy and his dog caught up with us. He was out looking for sheep on the mountain, and left us before we headed into Langfossdalen. He seemed a bit surprised about meeting two strangers on the way to Helgedalsnuten. He reckoned Helgedalsnuten to be a long walk. We had done the first 600 vertical meters within the hour, which was pretty much what we forecasted.
I admit I hadn't looked closely at the map, and hoped that the terrain would just rise steeply all the way to Lake Vaulo (875m). But from 630m, we faced almost 3km of walking through Langfossdalen before reaching the lake. I'm not a big fan of long valleys, but nothing could be done about that now.
It was nice to finally arrive at the lake. It felt as if we were halfway to the top by now. The guy we met said we should hike up south of point 1048m, but we chose to follow the valley towards Svartavatnet instead. It just made more sense. After a short break for lunch, we crossed the river, which was not straightforward now in the dry season, and Tobjørn made a good point about how much harder a crossing would be in the melting season. But still, there could be a good crossing point, somewhere between Vaulo and Svartavatnet.
We arrived at Lake Eljarbotnvatnet Helgedalsnuten rose steeply ahead of us. A convenient ridge presented itself, and it seemed that route finding would not be an issue for the first hour. It was a hot day and this was a big mountain. I had found the wisdom to bring some food and I lost count of the number of 0,5L bottles of water I had downed. This mountain would surely give me headache for the rest of the weekend if I got sloppy about food and water.
The map wasn't very helpful in this kind of terrain. It's amazing what can be found between two 20m contours. We chose the route on sight, and didn't run into dead-ends or problems of any sort. But I would not descend the snowfield we had crossed on the way to point 1345m. From 1345m, we had Helgedalsnuten in clear view, and we followed the north side up to the mountain plateau, which gave us a good view down to Svartavatnet. Then we took the shortest route up to the summit, 500m to the southeast.
We arrived at the Helgedalsnuten's summit cairn 1:35pm. It had taken us 4h:15m to the top. My original finger-in-the-air estimate was 4 hours (based on distance and elevation gain), but I had forgotten to include lunch. Reaching the top felt good. Not only had we bagged it, this was also a nice place to be. The feeling of wilderness was there, and we did not expect to see anyone on this mountain.
After a short stay on the summit, we moved on towards the border cairn, 500m or so down the road. The time was 1:48pm when we reached it. I walked around the cairn, just to mark that my journey to Helgedalsnuten had led me through and into 4 counties (Møre og Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Hordaland and now Rogaland). Torbjørn had a big smile on his face. We were here now. Finally.
Yet another quest for beer
We agreed that a small celebration at the campsite would be in order, wherever it would be. But we had no beer left, the time was now 2pm, and the shops would stop selling beer in 4 hours. Why don't I ever learn to plan for these things. It's not too long ago since I was on top of a 1333m mountain and had 2 hours left before the shops closed. I made it then, and we could certainly make it now. I asked Torbjørn how we should play this. "Fast pace and beer, or a normal pace and no beer?". I don't think it's in Torbjørn's nature to have a beer discussion on top of a mountain, and I never felt I got his wholehearted support, but at least it seemed to be my call...
As we left Helgedalsnuten at a fast pace, I tried to do some trail math. Ascent time (lunch not included) was 4 hours. We needed to be back down in 3, as we would probably need one hour to get to the shops. Odda, nearly one hour drive) was a safe bet, but our original plan was to drive to Utbjoa and then to Borgundøya. We would have to rely on Etne or Ølen, although I didn't know how long it would take to get there. I went through the entire route in my head, and was now confident that we would be back down in 3 hours.
In the "old days", Torbjørn would have crushed me in terms of any long distance walking or skiing. But 9 months ago, Torbjørn became a father, and has been busy with more important things than mountains since then. However, Helgedalsnuten is a kind of mountain that may easily make a certain impact on your muscular system. A descent in Arnt-pace was clearly not what his legs needed right now, but h... if he would be the one to slow us down. It seemed to be a matter of pride, and not beer. I felt a bit sorry for him, as every now and then, his muscles instructed his vocal system to send small screams into the air. Against his will. "Tourette", he mumbled..
I left Torbjørn 5 minutes before arriving at the Langfoss trailhead. I was back at the car 4:55pm, and when Torbjørn arrived a few minutes later, the engine was running and the roof was down in the trunk. He entered the passenger seat, and off we went. That's efficiency! The only thing we knew about Etne was that it didn't seem to be further away than Odda. So much for being "Hordaland experts". So far, our plan seemed to stick. But would there be shops open until 6pm? And did they sell beer from shops in Etne? After all, this was western Norway. We reached Etne in .. due time before 6pm. The shops were open and they did sell beer. And hey - they had food too. The descent from Helgedalsnuten was now officially over.
We needed to find a place to camp for the night, and we wanted a quiet place down by the sea. Finding such a place isn't easy while driving along the main road, but we were lucky. The Utbjoa ferry harbor confused us. No signs mentioned Borgundøya, our goal for the next day. I pulled over by a house and asked a guy if this ferry went to Borgundøya at all? The answer was yes. "And by the way", I said. "If you were to recommend a quiet camp site down by the sea?"
The guy gave us driving directions to Gardavikja, a small bay just southwest of Utbjoa. This was a public beach, and camping was allowed. Frankly, I hadn't expected that we would find the perfect campsite, but we did. At first, we thought about putting up a tent on the lawn outside the cabin-for-hire. But after checking the beach front, we agreed to put the tent up on the small pier. The sound of the waves hitting the rock below the pier was pure music. And I wanted to listen to it.
I drove up to a nearby house to ask if I could fill up the water bottles. A Polish couple were on their way down to the beach to fish. When I pulled up in front of the house, the owners did not seem happy about my presence. But when they realised I was not a person bringing harm to their home, I was welcomed almost like a family member. Back at the campsite, Torbjørn told me that he had taken a swim. I asked him if he had seen the Polish couple. He had not. I had a good laugh, picturing the Polish couple arriving at the beach, and what made them turn around or go somewhere else. Torbjørn cooked a nice dinner while the sun was setting. The smell of dinner cooking, a cold beer in the hand, the sound of waves hitting the beach.. oh.. it's hard to be a mountain man...
Next day: Borgundnuten
The pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 300D + Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM F 4-5.6
(Full size images)
(Images scaled down.
To Bergen, Sep 11 2008
Ulriken, Sep 11 2008
To Muradalen (Rosendal), Sep 12 2008
To Åkrafjorden, Sep 13 2008
To Lake Vaulo, Sep 13 2008
To Helgedalsnuten, Sep 13 2008
Wide-angle view from Helgedalsnuten
Zoom views from Helgedalsnuten
At the Helgedalsnuten border cairn