Finnbunuten from lake 809
There does not seem to be a very distinct border that defines "Stølsheimen" and "Vikafjellet" as mountain regions. On my pages, Stølsheimen is for practical reasons everything east of highway E39 (Bergen-Førde), west of highway 13 (Voss-Vik), south of Sognefjorden and north of highway E16 (Bergen-Voss). Given the above definition, Grøndalsfjellet and Finnbunuten (Finnbufjellet) are the 3rd and 4th highest in this mountain region. Slightly higher are Kvitanosi (1433m) and Lønahorgi (1410m)
Grøndalsfjellet and Finnbufjellet/Finnbunuten are easily accessible from highway 13, and a number of possible routes (not necessarily trails) exist. The views from both summits are excellent, as nothing nearby obscure the view. Lønahorgi and Kvitanosi are easily identified towards south. Further south-east one see the long ridge stretching from Horndalsnuten towards Mjølfjell. Towards the east one see the higher mountains between highway 13 and Nærøyfjorden, and steep mountains around Sognefjorden towards the north. Even the south parts of Jostedalsbreen glacier can be seen on a clear day. Another glacier that comes into view is Fresvikbreen, further north-east.
Grøndalsfjellet (Norge 1:50,000: 1375m, Økonomisk Kartverk: -, UTM 32 V 357864 6755242) has a primary factor of 402m towards the higher parent mountains around Lake Store Muravatnet. The defining saddle (approx. 32 V 361690 6757039) is found just south of Lake Skjelingavatnet (969m). Ref. Økonomisk Kartverk (5m contours), the saddle is within the range 970-975m, interpolated to 973m.
Finnbunuten (Norge 1:50,000: 1358m, Økonomisk Kartverk: 1357m, UTM 32 V 361092 6752208) has a primary factor of 404m towards the higher parent mountain Kvitanosi (1433m). The defining saddle (approx. 32 V 358389 6747562) is found in the pass between Rjupeskaret and Blåeggi. Ref. Økonomisk Kartverk (5m contours), the saddle is within the range 950-955m, interpolated to 953m. Note that the adjacent contours on the 1:50,000 map are 980m. In other words, the 960m contours would have been needed to match the contours on Økonomisk Kartverk.
Note: Class ratings are in reference to YDS (Yosemite Decimal System).
The below route description is a round-trip over both summits, starting at highway 13. The route to Finnbunuten is class 1, except my variation in Finnbugjuvet, which increases the difficulty to class 2. The somewhat steep descent from Finnbunuten and ascent to Grøndalsfjellet has no greater difficulty than class 2, although some routefinding is required.
Hwy 13 - Finnbunuten - Grøndalsfjellet - Hwy 13 (summer/autumn)
From the roundabout in Vinje (approx. 20km north of Voss), follow highway 13 towards Vik. Pass lake Myrkvatnet and continue towards Myrkdalen valley. After a while the road begins to switchback up the mountain. Just above the switchbacks, watch for a bridge that crosses the river on your left hand side. There is room for a couple of cars by the bridge. Alternatively, there is more parking approx. 100m before the bridge. This parking is approx. 16,8km from the Vinje roundabout.
Cross the bridge and follow a visible path that leads to the cabin at Finnbuane. This is a short walk, and you see the cabin from the highway. Behind the cabin, you see towards Finngjuvet, the basin below Finnbunuten. The Finnbunuten north ridge, which you have on your left hand side looks steep and impossible to hike. The south ridge (your left hand side) is however trivial and the route upwards should be obvious. From the cabin, locate a trail on the back side and follow this upwards. As the trail you are on takes direction towards the inner basin, leave the trail and start ascending the south ridge.
After advancing the south ridge for a while, you enter a large plateau on your right hand side. This plateau leads directly to a boulder area above the basin. If you choose to stick to the ridge, you have a class 1 hike all the way. If you follow the plateau to the boulders, you have some light unexposed class 2 hiking up to the lakes below the summit.
When you are above the boulder section, you see the summit area. The long north ridge leads directly to the summit. As you are slightly lower, you have to advance up to this ridge. This is best done far to the left. Pass all lakes (except one far to your left) on the left hand side and take direction towards the summit, which you should see by now. The hike from the lakes to the summit runs across an easy boulder section. On the summit, you will find a mailbox with the summit log.
From Finnbunuten summit, continue slightly SW to a small lake just behind the summit. Go to the north end of the lake until you have a clear view down to the valley. Then follow the edge of the ridge and begin your descent when you see that the terrain becomes gradually less steep. Eventually, the hike down the grassy ridge becomes quite easy. But as you are getting near the valley, you will run into a steep drop. You may be close to a small waterfall at this point. Another waterfall is just below you, although you don't see it yet. Find a good route that takes you down to the lower waterfall and from there on, aim for a hut between lake 918 and lake 924. A bridge takes you over to the other side.
From the hut, head north for a little while, and climb NW up towards Grøndalsfjellet with the stream from Store Skabotn close on your right hand side. Move gradually away from the stream as you ascend. When above 1200m, head a little towards the west to get on the ridge that leads directly to the summit cairn.
From the summit, head eastbound and aim for lake 899. The first part of the mountain side is trivial, but after a while some routefinding is required. As you encounter crossing ridges, avoid gaining vertical meters. This means you have to seek right in these places, leading you towards lake 918. If you find yourself above a steep section with the stream forming a delta below you, seek left to find a route down. Once down by the delta, adjust your course, and head for lake 899. Down by lake 899 you meet the valley trail, which you follow back to the highway.
A note on Finnbunuten north ridge
Those of you who enjoy routefinding and has a head for heights should investigate accessing Finnbunuten from its north ridge. From Finnbuane, head up towards the steep beginning of the ridge. From distance, this looks quite doable, but I haven't investigated this route.
I woke up to rain and a cloudy sky. This was no way to begin the week-end! I decided to check the Storm weather forecast, as they provide a local forecasts. I checked the forecast for Stølsheimen, and good golly, bright sunshine was expected in the afternoon. I jumped in the car with a bunch of maps. The destination could be figured out along the way.
I decided quickly on Finnbunuten, as I wanted to see how the area looked like. I had driven across Vikafjellet before, but never really paid attention. The sun started to shine through by the time I drove through Voss. I was very cheerful as I continued towards Vinje and the Vikafjell road. And petting the dog far much more than he cared for. Close to the Finnbunuten foothills I discovered a bridge, and the hike was on.
Troll decided to pow-wow already at Finnbuane, but I've carried him so much in my life that it doesn't bother me anymore. The slopes upwards were easy and boring and I was constantly looking towards the north ridge for a possible route up. There were none, and I settled with a boulder section in the middle of Finnbugjuvet. Above the boulder, Troll decided that his backpack duty was over and cried to get out. The summit was reached in just over an hour. Two hunters arrived the summit at the same time, and we spent some time talking.
I had no plans on what to do next, but when I discovered that Grøndalsfjellet was higher, there was no doubt about the route further. I was wondering if these two mountains were among the highest in Stølsheimen. At least on the west side of highway 13. They probably were, I concluded. I was even more cheerful, but left the dog alone. I had to figure out a way down to the valley and headed for the far side of the ridge, while at the same time staying close to the edge. Very soon, the terrain gave me the opening to begin the descent. Some minor problems (steep falls) were quickly resolved and I was down by the cabin at the lake in no time. A group of women were resting at the cabin. They waved as I rushed by. I considered stopping for a conversation, but settled for waving. I did make a mental note that I've probably turned into an oddball.
The ascent to Grøndalsfjellet was long and a little strenuous. It was steeper than I had perceived it to be, but just over 2 hours after leaving Finnbunuten, we reached the Grøndalsfjellet summit. Then I saw a group of people 100m below me, and they were yelling something to me. They had rifles, and I wondered if a flock of birds were inbetween. I moved over to the other side and started taking pictures. Just to be on the safe side The other group arrived the summit, and they had thought I was someone else. Soon, the "someone else" also arrived the summit. They told me that hardly anyone visited this mountain anymore. As such, it was quite crowdy to be such a lonely place. It was getting late, and I took a route straight down the mountain. The route down called for some caution although it was only moderately steep. Down by the lake, we found the public trail, and returned to the car 5,5 hours after departure. The late evening fall colors were breathtaking. Fully recharged I started on the 2,5 hour drive back to Bergen. I had a sixpack waiting in the cooler. This made me very cheerful, and I started petting the dog again..
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