Norwegian Mountains, Sogn og Fjordane
Hjelmen (1215m) from Sørdalsvatnet, Aug 15 2010
To the main Hjelmen page (maps, route descriptions, other trip reports, etc.)
Almost one year after visiting Haukabøra and Vingekvarven, and truly discovering the breathtaking Ålfotmassivet mountain region, Anne Rudsengen and me were back in the area. Along came Tora - a 9-year old (soon 10) girl that from time to time joins Anne on adventure weekends.
Our base-camp for the weekend was Åkrebua at Iglandsvik. Anne, Tora and me arrived on Friday, and visited Førdsnipa (307m) and Strusnipa (281m) in the afternoon. On Saturday, we went up Steinfjellet (681m), and while Anne and Tore enjoyed the Grotlesanden beach afterwards, I went up the neighbour top which also was named Steinfjellet (637m).
Later in the afternoon, Lise Grønbukt and Ove Lotsberg came to Åkrebua, directly from Hornelen. I first got to know Ove through Facebook, then subsequently Lise and as it was high time we met, we invited them to stay with us at Åkrebua this weekend. On Saturday evening, we drove to Kalvåg on Frøya island and enjoyed a nice dinner at Knutholmen while discussing the various hiking options for the next day.
The weather had been mediocre so far, but we had reason to believe that Sunday would be a good weather day. As such, it was tempting to visit one of the major mountains in the region, but we also had to take into consideration that we had a 9-year old in the group. But kids are made up of strong wood, and we figured that we could give Hjelmen a try. The decision was made. Permitting OK weather, we would go for Hjelmen the next day.
We woke up on Sunday to gorgeous weather, and after checking out of Åkrebua, we took the (fairly long) drive to Svelgen. We parked at Sørdalsvatnet (270m) and headed out 11:33am. I had absolutely no knowledge about what a 9-year old was good for in the mountains, but I had stocked up a large amount of chocolate, which I had reason to believe would work as fuel...
The hike up Søre Dalen was easy enough, and it was good to see the amazing sandstone walls again. Tora was asked to lead the group, and we hoped that the task would be inspirational. Every 30 minutes (or so), I handed Tora a piece of chocolate, and she kept steaming on...
At 700 meters, we had to make a decision; should we follow the "T" route towards Keipen, and ascend Hjelmen from the east, or should we take the mountain head on, from the west?. Option #2 meant a significantly shorter route, and everyone was in favour of this. Frankly, I had doubts about this route, knowing that all most the peaks in this region had a steep drop towards the west, but was willing to give it a try. If we couldn't make it to the top of Hjelmen, we could always stop by Såta (840m) on the way home.
But first, cloudberries...
The ascent from the unnamed lake at 730m and up to Falskehjelmen (the false Helmet) at 1094m was all about boulder. But just like the firm sandstone rock, sandstone boulder is also big fun. Rocks with faces, sedimentary surprises, fun cliffs, etc. Tora was still going strong, and I was already one chocolate bar short...
After passing Falskehjelmen, we had Hjelmen in full view. In one way, the view was discomforting. The summit looked steep. Very steep. But it was also "promising". Perhaps we could find a way around the problem, and beat the fierce-looking helmet? Tme would tell. With a certain suspense, we headed towards Hjelmen...
Ahead of us was Hjelmen, a gap and something that I'm referring to as a satellite top. The scramble up to the satellite top was easy enough, but getting down to the gap wasn't so trivial. A research mission was launched; Ove climbed down to the gap while I found another way around on the south side. We met in the gap and could see that someone had stacked rocks on top of each other, obviously to reach a ledge and a tremendous handhold a bit higher up. I climbed up while Ove went down a cleft to look for an alternative ascent route. A minute later, I was on top of Hjelmen, but that wouldn't mean anything unless we got the rest of the team up.
I climbed back down and Ove and me agreed that this was a doable route. I climbed back up to the satellite top and took the others around on the south side. The south side involved one awkward move, and I had to call for Ove to make sure Tora was safe all the way. Tora was still smiling, like she had been since we headed out, but admitted that she was a bit afraid. I assured her that she would be perfectly safe.
Back in the gap, Ove and Anne climbed up to form a "chain". Next up was Tora, and once she was properly secure with Anne, Lise and me followed.
We reached Hjelmen summit 3:40pm - 4h:07m after heading out. Seldom has a reaching a summit cairn felt better. But the big question was; what now? No one seemed to be in favour of climbing back down to the gap, so our only option would be to descend along the normal route. That would mean a loooong walk back home. With sad eyes, we informed Tora that the return hike would be longer than our ascent route. Her answer was a big smile (of course), and I don't think it was because I was holding yet another chocolate bar in my hand...
After a nice stay on top, we headed down the east ridge. We reached complex terrain near the Hjelmen - Keipen saddle, and we were almost down by Lake Rundevatnet before we found a route into the saddle. From here, we followed a rugged "T" path which took us past Lake Vasskarvatna. The steep walls surrounding us were "out of this world". I wondered why this place wasn't crawling with climbers. Lise - who had been part of the start-up group in the Florø climbing club, couldn't give me a satisfactory answer. Ove (who is in a mountain league way above myself) had been eyeballing the walls throughout the hike, and would probably not mind a climbing camp near Vasskarvatna. The rock quality!! OMIGOD!!!
Tora developed a sudden (and temporary) intolerance towards chocolate and her engine turned low on fuel rather quickly. As we had to make progress (first day of school the very next morning, and a long drive back to indre Sogn...), I decided to carry her for a while. The song "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" came to mind. Although the title was a bit misleading...
After a little while, she found new energy and was back on the trail. After a minor fall (some blood and band-aids) earlier on the hike, it felt best to hold her hand across the boulder sections. That said, she walked better on boulder than most grown-ups I know...
Now that everything was under control, Ove and me decided to visit Såta (840m). After passing point 797m above Søre Hjelmevatnet, we took a direct route to Såta while Anne, Lise and Tora followed the "T" trail. It took us 10-15 minutes to reach the top and less to join to the others. Big bonus!
Tora was now really rolling, and walked just as fast as the rest. Perhaps it was the realization of that the hike was coming to and end .. I don't know, but in any case - she was leading the group down, just as she had on the way up. We returned to the trailhead 7:40pm - 8h:07m after heading out. We had walked approx. 17km and ascended more than 1200 vertical meters (not counting Såta). What an incredible effort from this little girl! We were all utterly impressed!
Another fantastic day in the beautiful Bremanger region had come to an end. Anne and Tora headed back to indre Sogn, Lise and Ove back Nordfjordeid and me to Sunnmøre. Driving back home with the roof in the trunk wasn't bad. The hot dog in Volda wasn't bad either, and the sunset beyond Lidaveten was certainly not bad at all...
The pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 550D + Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM F 4-5.6
(Full size images)
(Images scaled down.
To the foot of the mountain...
Wide-angle views from Hjelmen
Zoom views from Hjelmen
Descent (part 1 - to Rundevatnet)
Descent (part 2 - to the trailhead)
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