Monday, March 3, 2014

Jotunheimen trip Fall 2013

1. - 6. September, 2013
Jotunheimen National Park, Norway

A study trip in small groups was one of the requirements of the glacier course with Telemark University College.  The trips started right after the glacier course, and as if on cue the weather worsened right after the instructors left.  Some of the groups had fishing trips planned, while others were going to bag as many 2000m peaks as they could.  My group had more ambitious plans for our trip, which included traversing several glaciers and bagging Galdhøpiggen, the tallest mountain in Norway.

The first day of the trip was plagued with thick fog.  Crossing Leirbreen proved to be more tiresome than anticipated.  The total whiteout made orienteering difficult and made you dizzy since you couldn´t make out the contours of the landscape.  We caught up to another group heading in the same direction just in time to see their leader fall into a crevasse.  Luckily they were roped up and their leader was small enough that they could just drag her out by backing up.  Everybody made it safely to Bjørneskardet where the storm raged like a terrible beast clawing at the mountains.  We found a sheltered spot near the pass and ate a cold lunch.  Some of the others were nervous about the descent to Leirvassbu due to large amounts of new snow on the glacier.  I roped up and lead the way down the mountain.  All of the new snow on Bjørnebreen made it difficult to see where the crevasses were.  There were several times we had to navigate around giant chasms of ice.  We were started to get tired after crossing the glacier.  Unfortunately for us, there was still about 300m of talus to descend.  The loose rocks made travel difficult.  The descent took such a toll on us that we set up camp as soon as we hit solid ground.

Travel was easier for the next couple of days since we mainly stuck to the valleys.  Weather improved considerably over the next several days.  Our next big challenge was Galdhøpiggen 2469m.  We had spent the past few days gradually going downhill meaning we had a few thousand meters to climb.  Being the closest hut, and only reasonable place to set up camp, Juvvasshytta was our goal for the day. The steep ascent, combined with the autumn sun, drained us of our energy, so it was a nice relief to finally get to Juvvasshytta.  Dinner inside was a luxury after all the hard work from the past two weeks.

We left our camp by Juvvasshytta the next day with equipment to hike to the top of Galdhøpiggen.   It didn´t take us long to reach the summit.  The view from the summit is incredible, and we were blessed with gorgeous weather.  Atop the upper ridge, just below the summit, is a small stone cabin with a kiosk, that sells hot dogs and soda to tourists climbing the mountain.  It is incredibly surreal to sit inside atop Norway´s tallest mountain and look out a window to see a collection of some of the tallest mountains in all of Norway.  After a brief stop at the top we headed back to Juvvasshytta and collected our things before headed on down the mountain to Elvesæter.  The hike down was long and steep, hopping from rock to rock in the scree of the upper slopes made travel difficult.  Camp was reached just before dark and we made our final dinner of the trip with the help of head-lamps.

It was a long and tiresome trip, but not one that I will soon forget!

Another group had an incident with a crevasse

Ready to lead the way 

 Wading through snow on Bjørnebreen

 Regrouping after crossing the glacier

 Looking at the pass and glacier we crossed the day before

Not a bad view from the tent

 Travel goes a lot quicker down in the valleys

 Lunch break on our way up to Juvvasshytta

 Excited for dinner at Juvvasshytta

Galdhøpiggen (tallest mountain in Norway) is 2469m

 Hut at the summit of Norway´s highest mountain

Standing inside on the summit of Galdhøpiggen is a bit surreal

 Found this sign about safe glacier travel

 Descending to Elvesæter

Waiting for the bus back to Telemark at Elvesæter

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