Norwegian Mountains, Møre og Romsdal

Spring traverse, Mar 9 2008

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Melen seen from Nakkedalen

Melen seen from Nakkedalen (Click for larger image)


is one of my favorite hikes, and I very much enjoy bringing friends up here. As the mountain is located on/near the Sunnmøre and Romsdal regional border, the drive from Ålesund is fairly short. Furthermore, the mountain isn't very high (807m), and can be hiked in most sorts of weather. The alpine traverse isn't long either, but offers scrambling and serious exposure. In other words, a proper peak in a compact format.

I had already done this traverse a couple of times, but never on snow. I had been planning to do the traverse solo this winter, but it's always more fun with good company. So I invited Daniel (moved to Sunnmøre 3 weeks ago) and Åsmund to join in, and this was the first time they met. 

To Melen

We got together at Moa on this Sunday morning and headed for Vatnedalen. We left one car down by the shooting range in Nakkedalen and drove another up to Reset - our trailhead for the day. It was raining all the way from Ålesund, but we had a good hope for better weather during the day. It stopped raining as we left Reset 10:00AM.

We decided to ascend Melen on foot, and feared a nightmare in deep snow. But the nightmare didn't come true. The snow got firmer the higher we got and once on Melen's south ridge, there was hardly any snow left. The upper part was icy, as expected. We arrived Melen summit 11:15AM and it was snowing. The sun broke through 10 minutes later and all of a sudden, Melen was a gorgeous place to be.

The traverse

We had brought enough equipment to get us across and down the mountain, but weren't sure if we were going to need it. There was very little snow on the ridge. The only open question was whether we run into some nasty cornices upon descent. Time would tell. We put on our harnesses and crampons, but left our ice-axes in the backpack. Hands seemed to the best tool for the first part of the traverse.

There are two distinct obstacles on Melen's north ridge. The first involves a short and airy descent to a gap on the ridge. This obstacle turned out to be easier in winter, as the snow made the distance down to the ridge a bit shorter. The second involves a short, but steep climb. This was slightly harder, as the snow covered natural handholds. In-between these, a new obstacle presented itself. A smooth rock that provides sufficient handholds in summer was very slippery, forcing us to jump down to the ridge below. It wasn't a big problem, but focusing didn't hurt.

One has to be an extremely grumpy figure not to enjoy this mountain on such a day. And neither Daniel nor Åsmund fit that category. It was evident that they enjoyed this mountain and this traverse. Which was good news to me, dragging them out of their houses on a rainy Sunday....

A Melen moment

A Melen moment (Click for larger image)


The descent..

turned out to be quite trivial. Only one cornice was left to remind us that this ridge is far more serious with a lot of snow. Even with a lot of rainshowers in the distance, the view ahead was second to none. A steep and shiny ridge below us, the blue Romsdalsfjorden and the white Molde and Fræna mountains beyond.

At 610m elevation, Daniel found a gully that he simply couldn't resist. Åsmund and I didn't like this idea. My personal reason was that there had been a severe avalanche danger just days ago. And this gully was steep, perhaps 45 degrees. Åsmund and I had avalanche transceivers, but security isn't their purpose. Even if I had a bad feeling about this gully, I had to admit that the snow seemed firm. The temperature had been above zero for a few days, and the snow was certainly in a better condition than 5 days ago.

Daniel was already far down in the gully when Åsmund and I decided to tag along. The snow felt firm and once the angle of the gully became more reasonable, we glissaded the rest of the gully (except for one short section). I couldn't get the speed I wanted due to a snow-shovel on my backpack - a perfect brake. We moved a lot of snow during the glissade, and my avalanche fear came back. But the only thing coming down the gully in great speed, was Daniel. For a moment, I was worried that he wouldn't be able to stop...

After a short walk through the forest, we crossed the river easily and arrived at Daniel's car 13:15PM. The whole trip had taken 3h:15 minutes. Daniel had some business in Molde, but managed to ski Trolltinden above Tomrefjord in the evening (!!!!). Åsmund and I drove back to Ålesund (with the roof down, of course). And after a quick meal I drove to Ellingsøya and walked the dog up to Myklebusthornet.

Pictures from the Mar 9 2008 traverse

Slideshow, all pics

The pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 300D + Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM F 4-5.6

To Melen

0. Trip tracks (389KB) 1. On the way to Melen (197KB) 2. On firm snow (176KB) 3. A quick rest while taking in the views (267KB) 4. Daniel has some problems with ice (259KB) 5. On top of Melen (183KB)

The traverse begins

6. It is snowing while we get ready (210KB) 7. Leaving Melen summit (179KB) 8. The first part is easy walking (160KB) 9. A beautiful veil (224KB) 10. Åsmund descending the first obstacle (296KB) 11. Daniel follows (303KB) 12. View down (east) (329KB) 13. A tricky rock, forcing us to jump (377KB) 14. The first part of the traverse is soon over (377KB) 15. Looking back up the ridge (271KB) 16. View towards Romsdalsfjorden (184KB)

Wide-angle view from the ridge

17. Wide-angle view from Melen north ridge (1095KB)

The second part of the ridge traverse

18. About to have our first climb (286KB) 19. Daniel climbs (368KB) 20. Åsmund follows. Space is limited (369KB) 21. Åsmund is soon up (353KB) 22. Then I follow (341KB) 23. Moving on (326KB) 24. Looking back on the ridge (273KB) 25. Arriving at a narrow section (297KB) 26. More of the minor obstacles (355KB) 27. Epic picture.. (345KB9 28. Me, humping along (303KB) 29. No complaints (221KB)


30. Our walk ends at the shooting range (462KB) 31. Starting the descent (343KB) 32. The axe is your friend.. (367KB) 33. The only remaining cornice (283KB) 34. The cornice (200KB) 35. View back up the ridge (232KB) 36. Moving on (273KB) 37. A rainbow (267KB) 38. A shiny white ridge (308KB) 39. Taking in the moment (278KB)

The gully

40. Daniel leaves the ridge (183KB) 41. The upper part is quite steep (236KB) 42. Åsmund coming down the gully (135KB) 43. Åsmund glissading (213KB) 44. Waiting for Daniel or an avalanche (192KB) 45. Åsmund is comfortable about the theory (333KB) 46. Daniel. In great speed (331KB)


47. This time, an easy river crossing (332KB) 48. Melen and the gully we descended (334KB)

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