Norwegian Mountains, Møre og Romsdal

Sprovstinden via the north ridge, Mar 29 2008

Back to the Sprovstinden main page


The north ridge (right)

The north ridge (right) (Click for larger image)

Sprovstinden's north ridge ..

was a ridge I had been looking at with great interest, on my many trips up and down Skorgedalen valley. The upper part looked steep and intimidating, but I promised myself to take a closer look one day. Then out of the blue, Daniel asked if I wanted to come along for a climb on this ridge. He had been skiing in the area the day before, and found it interesting too.

Daniel has only lived in Ålesund a few weeks, but knows how to get around. His Easter report was simply... astounding. Recently, Daniel joined Åsmund and myself for a memorable traverse across Melen, and I knew this was a guy who could handle himself in the mountains. As such, I had no reservations about letting him lead me into ugly terrain.

The route, different viewpoints:

View from Ytstetinden

View from Ytstetinden
  (Click for larger image)

View from Storknubben

View from Storknubben
  (Click for larger image)


We headed out ..

10:20AM from Skorgedalen, after a somewhat chilly drive from Ålesund, as the car window (it was Daniel's car) on the passenger side just fell down into the door. And stayed there...

Our backpacks were heavy from all the gear a winter climb demands. I only brought a few chocolate bars and 1,5L of water, but I had a good breakfast and drank 2,5L of water during the morning hours. I tried to make sure I didn't carry any equipment that wouldn't come into use. But I allowed an extra pair of gloves. God forbid - if I lost one during the climb, I would be in trouble. The weather forecast wasn't great, but it seemed we would just have overcast weather during the first hours. 

There was a bridge further up the valley, but Daniel had crossed the river on ice the day before. Apparently, a lot of ice had vanished since then, but we got across. There wasn't much water in the river anyway. Skiing the forest up to Lake Nedste Sprovsvatnet was somewhat strenuous due to the steep forest and the wet snow. The terrain was surely avalanche-prone, but it wasn't that steep yet. But we had to keep this in mind upon our ascent. We were both carrying avalanche transceivers and the other mandatory gear for search & rescue. 

Above Nedste Sprovsvatnet ..

skiing became a bit difficult. The wet snow gave way on the slippery crust below. We had to walk a short section on foot to get up to Øvste Sprovsvatnet (lake 570m). We now had the option to ski up the ridge that we would climb higher up, or continue up the basin below Sprovstinden. We chose the basin and kept a certain distance between us. The "flat" light made it difficult to see exactly how steep the basin was.

In the upper basin, the ridge appeared on our right-hand side. We skied up to the ridge crest, approx. 970m elevation. Daniel suggested we should ski along the ridge. After a futile effort, I decided to proceed on foot. This was NOT skiing terrain, but Daniel just skied on. You crazy, crazy man, I thought to myself while trying to walk steady across a section that was no wider than the famous point on Romedalstinden.

After walking/skiing 370m along the ridge ..

it was time to prepare for climbing. The first part didn't look bad at all, but I assumed this wouldn't be true for the rest of the route. This would be my first climb on ice/snow and I wondered how my two normal axes would do. One was 50cm, hardly ever used and still sharp. The second was 70cm long and has been a faithful companion over the last decade. I have a desire about writing a book about this axe one day. We've been through a lot together..

The ridge crest was sharp all the way upwards, but the lower part of the ridge allowed us to climb the flank. The ice wasn't good, in fact it was quite rotten, and the snow was a mix of wet and hard snow.

Daniel had a 60m rope which we used as a double-rope. As such, our pitches would be 30m at most. Daniel climbed up to the first belay point (I was belaying him already, but..) and then I followed. I can't remember if he used running belays during his climb, but this wasn't very hard climbing.

The second pitch..

was more serious. Daniel headed out while I belayed him. We made certain arrangements that allowed for pictures to be taken during the climb, and suddenly one of my gloves slipped out of my hands. I watched that red bandit tumble its way down a gully below. Out of reach. I gave my extra gloves a small kiss and let them warm up my cold hands.

Then a "long" time went by without much movement on the rope. I called out for a status report and he just responded "sharp ridge". I had some time to kill and managed to produce a whole number of thoughts. Why am I here? Is this sane or insane? Will we get up? Will we have to turn around? Will I take a fall? Etc.  But most importantly, I felt calm and good. I felt very good, to be honest. I was standing on my toes on a piece of questionable snow, 1000m above the valley floor, and I enjoyed it. I made a quick hand movement and tossed my vertigo down the mountain. This was the official goodbye.

After a looong wait, Daniel shouted that he needed more rope. There wasn't any more rope to give, but I could at least move one meter up from the belay point. When Daniel reported that the belay point was ready, I was quite anxious to see what the "sharp ridge" was all about.

The sharp ridge was ... sharp. I pictured myself sitting across it, humping my way upwards, with eyes unable to blink. But then I noticed that Daniel had climbed the flank. I struggled along the flank. Daniel had destroyed any good ice and snow on his way, and my axes weren't designed for this kind of use. I quickly had to get acustomed to a different way of climbing. I poked the axes into the snow (opposed to chopping for grips) until they stopped, then shifted my balance carefully upwards while using the crampons as the mandatory contact with the mountain. This was more like rock climbing and it got me up to the 2nd belay point without taking a fall.

I was hugely impressed by Daniel's climbing. This is perhaps everyday terrain for climbers of his caliber, but there was nothing everyday about it for me. To lead a novice climber into terrain like this, calls for a strong confidence. That is what impresses me the most. I want to feel some of that confidence, and that's why I willingly expose myself to places like this. Only training and experience will get me there..

En route to the 2nd belay point

En route to the 2nd belay point
  (Click for larger image)

The third pitch..

seemed like a walk in the park compared to the second pitch. We couldn't see any cornice on our entry point, which was a bit amazing and simply too good to be true. Now I knew we would make it to the top, and I celebrated my summit moment (internal stuff..) inside my head while belaying Daniel up the third pitch.

The third pitch had some ice in the lower section, but was a minor inferno of drifting snow higher up. It had begun to snow, and the nearby summits resembled hostile places. We were, seemingly, in shelter of whatever was going on up on the summit.

I watched Daniel set a snow anchor. Was there really enough snow? I couldn't help feeling a slight doubt. A bit later, Daniel called out for two more meters of rope. I didn't have any to give, and found myself in a minor predicament. Should I leave the belay point to give him the extra rope? With that snow anchor as the only belay between us? Daniel sorted out the situation before I had to make a decision. I don't know how he got his extra rope-lenght, and I didn't ask.

Hostile summit

Sprovstinden's summit plateu was a hostile place. We had been climbing for approx. 2,5 hours and it had been more than 6 hours since we left the car. The original plan had been to descend via Gjølbotntinden and back into Sprovsbotnen, but I told Daniel that I wanted to descend on the normal route across Sandtinden. Daniel concurred. We couldn't see anything except some naked rocks just in front of us. We headed upwards until we found a cairn. My GPS reported 1194m elevation and time was 16:47PM. I thought I saw something further ahead, but finding a cairn was good enough for me.

Then we began sorting out all of the equipment, which included preparing the skis for descent. I know I have a habit of being somewhat stressed while sorting out equipment in shitty weather. The weather was indeed bad, but it wasn't that bad. We could easily communicate and I managed to sort out my gear in a systematic way.  

Daniel entering Sprovstinden

Daniel entering Sprovstinden
  (Click for larger image)


The descent

I let my GPS (with map) lead us down from Sprovstinden. Daniel skied in front of me, observing the ground, and I dictated the course. It was a very convenient way of descending a mountain in a total white-out. We discussed skiing down to Jutevatnet, but I wanted to proceed across Sandtinden. I had two reasons. First of all, I knew the terrain, and second, I really wanted to ski down the prepared run above the skiing-centre. Daniel agreed on this, but not with a merry whistle. He had to walk on foot up to Sandtinden, while my vax-free skis allowed me to continue skiing.

We paused at 750m elevation and had lunch. We were now below the shitty weather and watched the beginning of one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen. After lunch, we skied down to the skiing-centre and discussed how to get back to the car. A 5Km walk down Skorgedalen wouldn't be the highlight of the trip, and Daniel suggested that he could give hitch-hiking a try.

Along with his skis, I stayed out of sight, trying to maximize his chances for success. And before 5 minutes had gone, a bus picked him up. The bus was not in service, and Daniel got a free ride back to the car. Shortly after, we were on our way back to Ålesund, still with the window trapped inside the door. We were both jolly about the trip and watched the sunset become more and more amazing by the minute. When we arrived Ålesund, I could see the sun and it was the largest sun I've ever seen in my life. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Many, many thanks to Daniel for bringing me along up this mountain. This trip will be on my top-10 list for years to come.


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


Javascript slideshow

(Full size images)


  Flash slideshow

(Images scaled down.
Right-click on images and select 'open in a new window' for full size version)









Up to the ridge

0. Trip tracks 1. Sprovstinden seen from Skorgedalen 2. Mounting up 3. River crossing 4. Stream crossing (378KB) 5. So far, nice weather 6. Passing Sprovsvatnet 7. Into Sprovsbotnen 8. Up the basin 9. Difficult light 10. Our planned descent route 11. Approaching the ridge

The first part of the ridge

12. On the ridge 13. Daniel is skiing 14. Arnt is walking 15. Airy and narrow ridge 16. Moving along 17. The rest of the route 18. Easy walking along the ridge 19. Arnt, outside the ridge 20. The climbing section in detail 21. View down the ridge 22. Approaching the climbing section 23. Daniel is ready for the climb


24. Daniel leads on 25. No belay here 26. Daniel proceeding on the 1st pitch 27. Belay point after the 1st pitch 28. Arnt, still with all his gloves 29. Skorgedalen below 30. The next belay point 31. Daniel setting up the belay point 32. Mainly outside the ridge on this pitch 33. Daniel enjoys the climb 34. Arnt, following 35. Arnt, on top of the tricky part 36. Photographers@work 37. Arnt, at the end of his climb 38. Daniel is on the mountain


39. Lunch below Sandtinden 40. View up to Sandtinden

No Javascript:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Other Møre & Romsdal mountains Other Norwegian mountains