For Information, maps, trailhead and route descriptions, click HERE.
Matt, Vassdalstinden & Troll
I did this hike with Matt Snape from Birmingham, UK. We got in touch over the internet. He and his family would be visiting Gurskøya for two weeks this summer, and we agreed already in January that we should do a hike together. Now that he was here, I proposed that we'd hike Vassdalstinden.
Vassdalstinden was on my immediate to-do list. It seemed that we would have OK weather this Sunday, but the forecast shifted gradually to the worse. My dear neighbour was on vacation, so I didn't have any baby-sitter for the dog. In worst case, I would have to carry Troll to the top. I wasn't 100% confident that I really wanted to, so I asked my colleague Bjørn Tore in Ørsta, to baby-sit my dog. As his kids love the little rascal, I could stuff some hardware into the backpack instead. I brought along a short rope, a few slings, some nuts, crampons and two ice-axes. I didn't expect to use any of it, but I wasn't quite sure what I should expect from this mountain.
I took the 08:40AM ferry from Solavågen. I arrived early - 08:15AM - and watched 6 other passenger cars line up behind me. Then followed a semi-trailer, a caravan and 2 cars with trailing units. The ferry crew put the passenger cars on the left side, the semi-trailer in front, center, with the other, slow-moving vehicles trailing.
And of course, on Festøya, they sent off the semi-trailer first, then the caravan and the 2 cars with trailing units before they sent off the passenger cars. It's so damned typical. I was at 10 on the pissed-off scale, and 10 is the max. The semi-trailer was doing 60 in the curves, and there are a LOT of curves along Vartdalsfjorden. This was asshole behaviour by the ferry crew, because there was no good reason to do it this way. But they can do what I like. That's fine. And I can write what I like, so I guess that makes me Even Steven. As I now have invested in a road monster (pun intended..), I was able to pass the caravan, the trailing unit cars and the semi-trailer just before arriving Ørsta. This has nothing to do about being in a hurry. It's something completely different. It's about quality of life on the road.
Being the good old myself again, I drove up Åmdalen and dropped Troll of at Bjørn Tore's house. Troll was well received and well taken care of. Then I drove down to Ørsta and met Matt, who had taken the 10:00AM ferry from Hareidlandet. I had never been up to Vallasætra before, and used the GPS to find the way up the valley. There are of course no roadsigns. In Norway, you have to *know* about these places.
I had seen Vassdalstinden summit while driving along Vartdalsfjorden, but as we arrived at Vallasætra, fog had closed in on the mountain. And it had begun raining too. Matt has done his bit of outdoor activites and didn't take much notice of the weather. He told me that he was a rock climber in his younger days, and had also climbed in Romsdalen. But it was a long time ago, he said. He made me feel a bit old, especially since I'm two years older than him..
We left Vallasætra 10:50AM, and found the path up the steep forest right away. And it was steep, indeed. It's been a while since I hiked a forest path that steep. Matt was good company. An easy going fellow, with a warm heart for Norwegian nature. I was happy about taking him up to a first class peak such as Vassdalstinden, but it was too bad that we were cheated on the views.
I told Matt that I had no clue about where we ought to ascend. A friend of mine told me to stick to the couloir, while the guidebook suggested that we should follow the east ridge. Fortunately, the fog wasn't too low, so both the east ridge and the couloir were quickly identified. The couloir had a waterfall in the lower section, so the best way would be to stick to the ridge.
The ridge was easy at first, then it got steeper and then we were in for a good climb if we wanted to stay on it. We backtracked our steps until we found a way into the couloir. We more or less stuck to the couloir all the way to the summit ridge, with some occasional scrambling on the side of the ridge. We never had to cross any snow, but the ice-axes came into good use anyway. The couloir was less steep than I had anticipated. In many ways, the terrain reminded me very much of Åvasstinden.
While Åvasstinden had a trivial approach to the summit cairn, we were in for a short scramble/climb in order to reach the top of Vassdalstinden. And by 13:25PM, we were on the summit. With minimum views, rain and some wind. We had put on the raingear half-way up the east ridge. It would have been cold without it. Matt signed the visitor register that he found inside the summit cairn. Then we had a break for lunch. Of all the things one could do on a rainy Sunday, being here was clearly not the worst choice.
Descent and dinner!!
It was easier to pick the optimal route upon descent. We tried to position ourselves in a way that minimized the dangers of rockfall, which was unavoidable in this couloir. I was very close to try my luck on the snow, but chose not to. The snow was quite hard, and a fall would demand a rapid and successful self-arrest. But as we entered Bukkedalen, we found a long snowfield that allowed for some fun boot skiing. Matt had never tried this before, and even if he fell flat on his ass on the first attempt, he loved it. I love it too. It's big fun.
The fog never lifted and it didn't stop raining. Still, the hike had been all worth while. The descent down Bukkedalen and the steep forest above Vallasætra was uneventful, except for teaching Matt how to spot faces, and we were back at the trailhead 15:35PM, wet to the bone. Changing into dry clothes after a successful, and very much enjoyable hike, is underrated.
Before saying goodbye to Matt, we agreed to meet later in the week, for a short hike on Gurskøya. I would very much like to meet his wife, and they looked forward to meet Troll. Matt returned to Gurskøya while I drove up to Åmdalen to pick up Troll. And then I was served dinner and dessert! What a treat! Satisfied in (almost) every way, the dog and I returned to Ålesund after another FINE day in the Ørsta region.
Front door views, the night before
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