Norwegian Mountains, Møre og Romsdal

Stetinden via the normal route, July 17 2007

For Information, maps, trailhead and route descriptions, click HERE.


After having climbed Store Skagastølstind back in 2005, I decided that I would go for "de tre store" (the three big ones). That seemed like a decent challenge. "Storen" was my first climb, and I was still working on my vertigo. Romsdalshorn - my second climb (ever) was reached in 2006, and the vertigo was almost history. Stetind was on the roadmap for 2007, and whatever fear or anxiety I might have felt prior to the two other climbs, it was all gone. I just looked forward to the Stetind climb. It would be a blast!

It felt natural to ask Torill, my fellow Romsdalshorn climbing partner, to come along for the trip to northern Norway. Like me, this would be her third climb, ever. And Einar, of course, whom Torill joined for his 50th birthday on top of Store Skagastølstind. They gave thumbs up for the project, and we could start planning.

More than 6 months ahead of the climb, I booked a guiding company. With only 2 climbs on my CV, I couldn't lead such a climb. Their response was positive, and I felt that we would be in good hands. We would be staying up in the Stetind region for a week, and if weather permitted, this company would come up with a guide. A few weeks prior to departure, and due to unfortunate events, Einar had to step away from the project. Torill and I decided to stay with the plan.

Our flight left Ålesund on Monday morning, July 16. On Sunday evening, I checked next week's weather forecast, and only Tuesday came up as a good day for a summitting Stetind. I sent a message to the guiding company, letting them know that we would be interested in giving Stetind a shot on Tuesday. The guiding company responded that Tuesday was OK, permitting they had available guides.

NOW they're telling me that there might be a shortage of guides?, I thought to myself. I may not know how this industry works in real life, but I strongly felt that they should have told me this earlier. It's like checking into a hotel where you have a reservation, only to discover that they're out of rooms. I didn't like this situation one bit, but we decided to leave anyway. On Monday morning, I got a phone call from our guide, telling us know that the trip was on, 07:30AM the next day.

Good! Now we could put that issue to rest, and focus on getting up there. On Monday afternoon, we flew to Oslo and caught the flight to Harstad/Narvik Lufthavn Evenes. After a long drive, we arrived Stetind Hotell in Kjøpsvik 23:00PM.

Stetind seen from the air

Stetind seen from the air

To Halls Fortopp

I was under the impression (because I hadn't been told otherwise) that the climbing party would be our guide, Torill and myself. That was the whole idea, really. Allowing us to move quickly up and down the mountain. At the Stetind trailhead, 07:30PM on Tuesday morning, I learned that there were 10 clients and 3 guides. The leading guide - Mattias - explained that it would be most efficient if all groups moved as one, I had reckoned that the climb would take 8-9 hours, but now I feared that the whole day would be spent on this mountain. Of course, there's nothing to be done about this situation. 13 persons ARE 13 persons, and there would obviously be a certain element of stress, if the groups were to compete about getting into positions.

The weather forecast promised sunshine in the afternoon. Stetind was hidden in fog during the morning hours. Everybody was *certain* that the weather forecast would live up to its promise, and everybody was just looking forward to see the fog lift. We headed out 08:00AM, and took it nice and slow up the forest. Early on, Mattias (the guide) made it very clear that he was the man in charge. In a positive manner. We all took an instant liking to our Swedish guide, The two other guides, Hilde and André, kept a low profile. I got the feeling that neither had done the normal route to Stetind before - only the climbing routes. I also got the impression that they had been hired in the last minute, in a "desperate" attempt to provide enough guides. Very nice people they were. André was wearing sandals. That was a bit odd, and - at least - I expected him to change into climbing shoes on the mountain. But he never did. He climbed Stetind in sandals. I guess you just have the necessary portion of self confidence and experience to do just that.

We reached lake Svartvatnet (728m) 09:35AM. The pace had been lazy, and now it was "breakfast time". It wasn't THAT long since I left the breakfast table at Stetind Hotell, and again, I told myself that this would be a long day. After a long "good" rest, we filled up our water bottles and headed upwards. Mattias now wanted everyone in line. NOONE was permitted to move outside this line, and we were told to stay close to one and other. Why did I get the impression that he was talking to ME? The reason was to minimize the danger of rockfall. Mattias had already earned everyone's respect, and we obeyed to his rules.

That's the sound of the men
They are working on the chain gang, huh
That's the sound of the men

We arrived Halls Fortopp (1314m) 11:30AM, and long break #2 was taken while the guides prepared for their tasks. There was a very good atmosphere within the group, which was quite diverse. Tor Eirik was there with his parents (Anne Margrethe and Thordur) and his aunt and uncle (Gunn and Asgeir). Audun was there by himself, while Jens & Jan (brothers) was on their third visit to Stetind. They had ascended Stetind once before in fog. (Apologies if I spelled any names wrong)

Jan and I "discovered" that we had met before. While living in Bergen, I worked at the High Technology Center, and that's where Jan works too. I knew I had seen him before, and we had chatted in the elevator. Just to be 100% sure, Jan asked if I was the one with the "ovnsrør" (chimney pipe) - Norwegian slang for a dachshund.

Some hadn't climbed (or abseiled) before, some had a little experience and some were slightly more experienced. Still, there was a unified optimism, which meant that this was either a tough bunch, or some hid their anxiety well. Based on climbing sketches I had seen, I knew that the Stetind ascent wasn't particular steep, but naturally, I was somewhat curious about the famous Ti Forbitrede Fingertak - the traverse below Mysosten. And what I saw from Halls Fortopp didn't scare me much. I didn't see the ridge leading to Mysosten, but the route from Mysosten (not the climbing part) and upwards seemed easy enough.

The fog had begun to lift, and Stetind presented itself in all its might and glory. What a peak! What a magnificent mountain! What an extraordinary day this will be...

Stetind seen from the trailhead

Stetind seen from the trailhead

To Stetind

By 12:15PM, we were on our way across the ridge, in three groups. Mattias was the lead climber, setting running belays for the other groups to use. The last person in group three collected the belays. After a trivial beginning, I soon regretted that I didn't put on climbing shoes at Halls Fortopp. My hiking boots had absolutely no pattern left, and as the terrain got awkward and exposed, I had to focus on BOTH handholds and footholds. The easiest part of the initial traverse was actually the "knife-edge" (not that sharp..) where I at least had good handholds. Once down on the ledge below Mysosten, I immediately changed footwear. I have no clue why the guides didn't tell us to switch to climbing shoes on Halls Fortopp.

Next was a looong wait while Mattias prepared the climbing route below Mysosten. From our position, we could only see the "fingertip traverse", but not the route above. Finally, Mattias (now on the ridge above) called for the first climber, and the climb was on. The clients handled the traverse in different ways. Some were a bit outside their comfort zone, but everyone got up to the ridge above. My personal expectation was a smooth climb, and it started out good. After entering the "ladder" the guides had put in place (to ease the access to the fingertip section), and bypassing two belays, I entered the "arctic toilet position" (but aligned towards the mountain face), and the fingertip climb went smooth. I then entered a tiny ledge with much less grace. An attempt to enter on foot resulted in crashing my helmet in the cliff above. To arrest myself from bouncing back, I entered the ledge on my knees. I was nowhere near feeling uncomfortable, yet my heart started beating faster.

How was I to proceed in a graceful manner? Not only did I have to shift from a standing-on-my-knees position to a balanced position on foot, but I also had to bypass a belay using only one hand. I had to focus. The heartbeat changed back to normal rhythm, a controlled shift of balance put me back on my feet. Shortly after, I had bypassed the belay and was ready to exit from the ledge. So far, I hadn't seen a damned thing above me, due to the helmet that was almost a natural part of my face by now. Without any form of comparison whatsoever, I assumed that this was where Ralph Høibakk had similar headwear problems during the first winter ascent of Stetind. The climb up to the ridge was "trivial" compared to the ledge, and my very first thought was I need to climb this route one more time. Of course, that wasn't a practical option, and the thought was a merely a result of my disappointment, failing to climb the route as I had pictured I would.

This type of (at least for most people) extreme outdoor activity, combined with all the idle time (waiting for your turn), brings people together. It was a true pleasure to get to know all this fine people, and it's a shame that we have to spread in all directions once the mission is accomplished.

The final ridge to Stetind summit still offered a few obstacles here and there, but nothing of great importance. Our focus was now the summit of Stetind, and by 16:30PM, we all were on it. We were now, seemingly, just minutes away from a complete foglift. And sure enough, the fog lifted. What a tremendous bonus! When we began the descent 17:00PM, there was not a cloud on the sky above Stetind. How lucky can you get?

Stetind seen from the air

Stetind seen from the air


Upon descending Stetind, I guess most people began to give thoughts to the rappel. Again, any personal worries could not be detected. I think most people in the group had abseiled before, but not all of them. I was happy to observe that I was fairly calm about it. After abseiling 300m on Romsdalshorn, 30m on Stetind didn't seem like much. I was more focused about getting good pictures. Again, I had to admire the efficiency carried out by the guides. While there was no particular details that were new to me, there was still a system. How to quickly get 10 clients down from Mysosten. In a safe and efficient manner. That's a system. And while these guides obviously knew all about the system, I still admired the craftsmanship.

Hilde abseiled first. Her role was to pull the rope in case anyone lost their grip on the rope. If the rope is pulled from below, the rappel will come to a stop (you can't abseil on a tight rope). So we abseiled without a prusik. Hilde was our safety margin. I followed second and could watch everyone doing just fine, seen from my position on the ledge. Once everybody was down, we proceeded to Halls Fortopp using running belays.

I was the last person in my group upon descent from Stetind, and up to Halls Fortopp. That was a new experience, and I didn't like it one bit. In certain spots - if the person ahead of me took a fall - I would be in trouble. I felt trapped. I could not exit the rope, as my role (like everyone else's) was to offer body weight in case anyone else should fall. And even if I had the gear (which I hadn't) to set up a temporary anchor while the person ahead of me completed an exposed move, the rope between us wasn't long enough (which means I would stop the other person's progress). Yes, I felt slightly trapped, and would have felt more comfortable without the rope. But that's how running belays work. Not much to be done about it, except having faith in that people don't fall...

We arrived Halls Fortopp 19:20PM and packed down the climbing gear, except for the helmet. After a 15-20 minute stop, we proceeded down the mountain, again obeying to Mattias' instuctions about staying close and moving carefully. Back at the lake, we could remove the helmets and return to the trailhead as we pleased. Torill and I, I guess it's fair to say we have a hiking pace above the average, were soon in front, only to find André, Hilde and Tor Eirik come running down the path. But of course - after 13,5 hours on the mountain, running down the forest is the only natural end to the hike. André was still wearing his sandals (!!) and were running so fast that he even got me running. I simply had to find out if I could keep up with him. With a rope on my backpack and with my camera in my hand, I took up the pursuit. and ran down the forest in a pace that I had only tried on Ulriken. Did I catch up? Perhaps I did. Perhaps I didn't.

21:45PM, I was back at the trailhead, 13 hours and 45 minutes after leaving. What a great day it had been. Such good company, and such an unforgettable experience. And I would express my most sincere gratitude towards the guides for their professionality and to the other team members for the positive attitutude. And to Torill, of course, for being sporty and for spending a week of her holiday up here in the north. Given the smile on her face, it may not have been her biggest sacrifice...

The kitchen at Stetind Hotell at closed by the time we returned to the hotel. But this hotel is a place where they go the "extra mile", and within minutes, egg & hamburger sandwiches were in front of us. We had allocated the whole week for Stetind, so now we had a lot of time on our hands. We spent a couple of days in this region, before moving to Harstad. The next day, we visited Stefjordnestinden.

Pictures from the July 17 2007 trip

To Halls Fortopp

1. Leaving Stetind Hotell (301KB) 2. Torill at the trailhead (216KB) 3. The summit is still hidden in fog (177KB) 4. The fog begins to lift (115KB) 5. On the way up the forest (223KB) 6. Pause above the forest (235KB) 7. Up rocky terrain (235KB) 8. Presttinden (237KB) 9. Pause and water refill (297KB) 10. The final hill before Halls Fortopp (238KB) 11. On Halls Fortopp (393KB) 12. Stetinden and a face (270KB)

To Mysosten

13. The route from Mysosten and upwards (1438KB) 14. Leaving Halls Fortopp (258KB) 15. An exposed section on slab rock (244KB) 16. A narrow, but easy section (200KB) 17. Looking back on the narrow section (255KB) 18. We have to descend from ridge we are on (337KB) 19. Looking back on the narrow section (187KB) 20. Tor Eirik descends the ridge (332KB) 21. Torill descends the ridge (397KB) 22. Scrambling down from the ridge (256KB)

Getting ready below Mysosten

23. Mattias explains what will happen (294KB) 24. Up to the climbing point (309KB) 25. The climbing begins here (343KB) 26. The climbing begins here (365KB) 27. Other climbers on the southern pillar (302KB) 28. A rock face I called -Stemora- (240KB)

Passing Mysosten

29. Mattias begins to climb (347KB) 30. Enjoying the views while waiting (370KB) 31. Anne Margrethe climbs (386KB) 32. Torill climbs (211KB) 33. Mattias and Hilde (217KB) 34. Gunn climbs (361KB) 35. Jens climbs (369KB) 36. The place is getting crowded (389KB) 37. Andre trails along in sandals (417KB)

To Stetinden summit

38. An obstacle just above Mysosten (238KB) 39. Up from Mysosten (223KB) 40. Moving up the ridge (213KB) 41. Tor Eirik found Stetind a bit airy (350KB) 42. Kopptinden (310KB) 43. Almost up (277KB) 44. Stetind summit !! (264KB) 45. Torill is very happy (240KB) 46. I am very happy too, but act cool :)   (241KB) 47. A happy crowd (243KB)

Pics from Stetind (too much fog for long panoramas)

48. Stefjordbotn (276KB) 49. The route from Halls Fortopp to Mysosten (416KB) 50. Presttinden (298KB) 51. Wide-angle view from Stetinden (1064KB)

Descent to the rappel point

52. Leaving Stetind (178KB) 53. To the rappel point (381KB) 54. To the rappel point (399KB) 55. To the rappel point (342KB) 56. Looking back up the ridge (256KB) 57. Isoleie / Ranunculus glacialis / Glacier buttercup (233KB)

The rappel and reascent of Halls Fortopp

58. Torill abseils Mysosten (297KB) 59. None were left on the mountain (945KB) 60. The south pillar climbers make progress (253KB) 61. View from below Mysosten (521KB) 62. Towards Halls Fortopp (343KB) 63. Towards Halls Fortopp (367KB) 64. Towards Halls Fortopp (204KB) 65. Towards Halls Fortopp. Airy spot (278KB) 66. View back to Stetind (255KB)

Wide-angle views from Halls Fortopp

67. Stetind to Presttinden view from Halls Fortopp (772KB) 68. Presttinden to Stetind view from Halls Fortopp (608KB)

50mm panoramas from Halls Fortopp

69. 50mm panorama from Halls Fortopp (1933KB) 70. 50mm panorama from Halls Fortopp (848KB)

Descent from Halls Fortopp

71. Airplane passing Stetind (202KB) 72. One final look towards Stetind (280KB) 73. Words not needed.. (107KB) 74. Descending. Presttinden in the background (319KB) 75. Descending. Svartvatnet below (375KB) 76. Presttinden (314KB) 77. Down the loose gravel & rock section (408KB) 78. Mysosten - high above (263KB) 79. Heading towards the forest (282KB) 80. Evening colors (344KB) 81. Passing below Stetind (453KB) 82. Waterfall near the trailhead (419KB) 83. Hilde balancing a slab rock (495KB) 84. Stetind seen from the trailhead (176KB) 85. Stetind seen from the trailhead (217KB)

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