Austdølnuten seen from below Gerdanuten
Austdølnuten is a rarity, resembling a pointy peak on a mountain massif dominated by large, rounded humps. Through the characteristic appearance, the mountain also serves as a landmark for skiers on the popular ski routes between Osa and Hardangerjøkulen.
The mountain is (potentially) easy to access through one of the highest mountain roads in Hordaland (Osa - lake Langvatnet). The normal access would be from the dam at lake Austdølnutvatnet. The terrain above the lake is fairly complicated, although not necessarily difficult. But some routefinding may be necessary, and some hikers might give up early on.
The view from the summit is surprisingly good. The mountain is centrally located between the larger mountains defining this plateau, such as Vassfjøra, Øykjafonn, Hardangerjøkulen glacier and Onen. Hårteigen can also easily be seen in clear weather, 45Km further south on the Hardangervidda plateau.
Austdølnuten's primary factor towards a higher mountain is defined as 129m. You have to leave the 1200m contours going on the high route, but by Reipstjørnane you can get to Sandvadnutane without crossing any streams. I have chosen not to interpolate the saddle to 1190, as the saddle is probably closer to the 1200m contour. From Sandvadnutane, there are several routes to higher mountains, but these are not relevant for defining the factor.
Note: Class ratings are in reference to YDS (Yosemite Decimal System).
Note: The trail described below is not necessarily the easiest trail to this mountain.
Lake Austdølnutvatnet - Austdølnuten (summer/autumn)
From Bergen, two directions can be followed:
a) Follow E16 towards Oslo. Exit onto highway 7 at Trengereid, drive down to Samnangerfjorden, over Kvamskogen and down to Norheimsund. Follow highway 7 northbound all the way to Ulvik.
b) Follow E16 towards Oslo. From Voss, exit onto highway 13 towards Granvin. At lake Granvinsvatnet, exit left onto highway 572 and drive 19Km to the central road junction in Ulvik.
From Ulvik, follow the road towards Osa. At Osa, go left in the first junction (marked "Hallingskeid/Uppsete"). Follow the road upwards towards lake Langavatet. After approx. 1,4Km from the last road junction, pay a fee at the self-served toll station on your left (fee was NOK 30,- for passenger cars per July 2003). Continue upwards in Austdalen, and after approx. 9,9Km from the road junction, you enter another road junction. Go left (the road to the right runs to lake Langvatnet). Drive approx. 1,5Km to the dam by lake Austdølnutvatnet. Stay right in any road forks. The road turns to gravel road on the way to the dam. Find parking by or nearby the dam.
Some small cairns/standing rocks will show you a doable route towards Austdølnuten. It will take some patience on your part, as some of the markings have collapsed and is hard to spot. The terrain is fairly complex in the beginning, so it is rather difficult to give a good description.
The route runs up to 1160m from the dam (1040m), and follows 1160m for a while before it tops out just below 1200m. The route down to the lakes south of Austdølnuten is less complex, and the direction is fairly obvious. The cairns will lead you towards a horseshoe-formed lake, where you are supposed to cross the east drain. It is probably far better to pass this lake on the west side, and cross the north drain to lake 1112m.
From the lake, head towards a distinct ridge that leads to the saddle between Austdølnuten and point 1323m. You may also follow the gully on the west side of this ridge. If the rock is wet and slippery, then go all the way to the saddle before turning westbound towards the summit. In dry conditions, you can shortcut up to the summit. It is quite obvious when you get there.
Although you will not feel uncomfortable on the summit ridge, the ridge is narrow enough to call for caution when icy. When the details in the terrain that provides safety is hidden under snow, then you can easily slide off if you're not careful. But to avoid scaring anyone from visiting this peak, I will stress that the ridge is not exposed in summer.
This week-end was dedicated for unfinsihed business above Osa, and some new adventures above Ulvik. I had planned to visit Skorafjell with Torbjørn Frøystein on Sunday, with the option to extend the hike to include Vassfjøra. But now it was Saturday, and I planned on doing both Austdølnuten and Kyrelvfjellet. I had seen Austdølnuten on previous visits to this area, and found the peak exceptionally cool. Kyrelvfjellet was dropped on a previous hike to Onen, due to serious lack of strength and energy. This has of course been "unbearable", and now it was time to pin it down.
The Voss mountains were hidden in clouds as I drove towards Ulvik. But I was enthusiastic as the weather forecast looked good. When I saw Vassfjøra in all its splender and glory on the way down to Ulvik, I knew it would be a great week-end. I drove up to the dam by lake Austdølnutvatnet. The parking was nearly filled up by foreign tourists. A few were scrambling in the steep mountain side above the parking. That route looked complex, and I decided I would go the obvious route along the lake. At 12:25PM, I headed down to the lake, and followed it for a short bit before the further route was blocked. The trivial "steps" I had seen on distance proved to be quite difficult. One error and I would fall into the lake. With the dog in the backpack. I chose not to be a hero, even if the tourists were carefully watching my every move through binoculars.
After a short detour upwards, I was soon down by the lake again. One more time, further access was denied through evil rock with no options for handhold. This time I decided to climb up on the high ridge. The route up went over slippery grass and loose moss, and there was some exposure. I certainly hoped I didn't have to descend this way. As I was nearly clear of the exposed difficulties, I ran into a cliffband that couldn't be bypassed. The cliffband had just the tiny steps I needed to investigate further. I left the dog in the backpack and started the short climb upwards, while making sure I also could return for the dog. Then I went down and pushed the dog ahead of me, step by step. Soon, we were in more comprehensible terrain, and I sat course for the lakes below Austdølnuten.
On the ridge leading towards the lakes, I saw standing rocks that clearly indicated a route towards Austdølnuten. I followed this route down to the lake, and found passing the drain to be quite a challenge without getting wet. Eventually I started building a rockpath across the drain, and by using the iceaxe, I found the sufficient balance for crossing the drain. I found the route so far to be fairly complex, and decided to find other options for the return route. The hike up to the summit was easy. I followed the cairns on a distinct ridge upwards, but when the cairns took a different direction, I took a straight shortcut up to the summit ridge. This shortcut would be impossible if the mountain had been wet. We reached the summit 13:45PM, and I was surprised about the stunning views. This was clearly a great viewpoint. The weather was all pleasant, and I could enjoy the views towards familiar scenery such as Onen, Hardangerjøkulen, Vassfjøra and Hårteigen.
But we had one more mountain to do, and left the summit 14:00PM. I decided to cross the drain at a different place, and headed down to lake 1112m. I passed this lake on the west side, and crossing the drains to this lake was much easier. With more water in motion, one may have to search harder for a good stream crossing. Back on the ridge, I decided to follow the cairns. I had expected the cairns to lead me to the building near Gerdanuten, and then straight down to the dam. But the route ran across the hillside, and it was not always easy to see the cairns. A few places I had to guess, and the guesses proved to be right. Above the dam, it was impossible to anticipate where the route was. I had to abandon a few possible routes that turned out to be far too steep and difficult. But finally, I found a zig-zag route slightly left of the dam (when looking down on the dam) that brought me safely down. This route also contained a slightly tricky spot, and I decided to classify the route as high as 2+. It is easy to run into some problems near the dam. But the hike had all in all been just great, and we arrived the car 15:15PM. Troll had only hiked a small portion of the route, but I assumed there would be more opportunities for him when we headed towards Kyrelvfjellet.
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