Norwegian Mountains, Møre og Romsdal
Vassdalstinden (1277m), June 27 2009
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Having limited time for hiking on this nice Saturday, the plan for was simply to visit Saudehornet. The ridge was free of snow, and I was looking at a fast and easy walk. Then Svein called, who wanted to go to Vassdalstinden. That was quite OK by me. The drive would only be slightly longer, and they were about the same height. However, because of the scrambling, Vassdalstinden is a more complex peak. But since my only visit to this mountain was in thick fog, I decided to join in.
I met up with Svein in Ørsta, then we drove to the Vallasætra trailhead. Svein had also been to Vassdalstinden before, but not from this side of the mountain. Vassdalstinden is renowned for good skiing conditions (on the upper part of the mountain) well into the summer, but we had decided to walk. Come July, I'm not very much into skiing mode, especially if it means I have to carry the skis longer than 20 minutes...
The route up from Vallasætra was just as steep as it always is, and on a warm day such as this - the hike was strenuous. Well into Bukkedalen, we saw that the couloir was full of snow. I had brought crampons, but Svein hadn't. Personally, Just because I never go to a sharp Sunnmøre peak before August without bringing crampons and two ice axes. Svein has a much stronger head for strong slopes than I have.
Most of Vassdalstinden's east ridge is trivial scrambling, but higher up, the ridge becomes more committing, as you can't really see where and what you're scrambling/climbing into. So, the couloir became my preference, even if I'm not exceedingly thrilled about steep snow slopes. And this couloir was probably around 45 degrees at its steepest.
The icy crust below the melting snow didn't allow for Svein to ascend the couloir with just one axe, and he had to find a different route. He ended up choosing the melting gap between the couloir and the ridge. There was one ugly spot which I thought would become a big problem, but Svein handles himself well on rock and the problem turned out not to be a problem at all.
There is only one true climbing move on Vassdalstinden, and that's just below the summit. But because of the snow, we could just walk up to the top. We arrived there 13pm - approx. 2 hours after leaving the trailhead (320m elevation). Man, the views... Svein and I agree that Vassdalstinden is one of the very, very finest of the Sunnmøre alps.
The 2007 version of me would have dreaded the descent. But because of some exposure to steep snow on the Smørskredtinden and Blåbretinden trips in 2008, I learned that if you strictly adhere to the "work instructions" (3 secure points in the snow at all times), you're OK. At least up to a certain angle. Not that I think that a fall down this couloir would have killed me, but I know very well the speed one quickly obtains in a slope as steep as this. And having only practiced self-arrest in an inconsequential environment, I'd rather not fall...
Great inspiration (when needed) can also be found in the excellent song (Everybody's free) To wear sunscreen;
The descent went well. I did my chores, and halfway down the couloir, I turned around and glissaded the rest - with crampons on! Svein also headed into the couloir, fell right away, but arrested himself before he gained momentum. A bleeding hand suggested that he would be better off on the ridge. At least for a little while longer.
The rest of the descent went without any further drama, and eventually, I could cool my feet in the .. cool pool .. near Vallasætra. And then, after chatting with a couple of people we met along the trail, we returned to the trailhead 2:55pm - almost 4 hours after heading out.
The pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 450D + Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM F 4-5.6
(Full size images)
(Images scaled down.
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Wide-angle views from Vassdalstinden
Zoom views from Vassdalstinden
Other pics from Vassdalstinden
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