Fresvikbreen is a plateau glacier, and is the 23rd largest glacier in Norway. The glacier covers a 15 sq. Km. area (measured in 1981). Glaciers heights are changing, but the height of 1648m is derived from Statens Kartverk M711 series. Fresvikbreen is also the highest point in Vik kommune. The glacier is located on the north-east side of Vikafjellet, where highway 13 define the natural border between Stølsheimen and Vikafjellet.
Fresvikbreen was in 2002 implemented in the Nærøyfjorden Landskapsvernområde, meaning the glacier is now a protected area, prohibiting a.o. helicopter traffic. Nærøyfjorden connects to Sognefjorden, which is the world's deepest fjord (1308m) and one of the longest (200Km).
The views from Fresvikbreen are magnificient, but the best views are obtained when one moves towards the sides of the summit plateau. The glacier summit "steals" a lot of the horizon. Hurrungane on Sognefjell with Store Skagastølstind in center, is easily identified in the north-east.
Source: Petter Bjørstads list of mountains in Norway with PF > 1000m.
Primary factor: 1310m.
Saddle: Is just east of Oppheimvatnet, near the main Hwy. E-16, connecting Voss and Gudvangen. On the 5 meter contour map Oppheimsvatnet that drains towards Voss, is 336.5 meter, while a very small pond, Barnatjørni (elevation 334.8 meter) located just a few houses from Oppheimvatnet, drains to Gudvangen. The 340 contours are never close, so consistent with this we assign (an interpolated) elevation of 338 meter to the saddle.
Fresvikbreen is one of three mountains/glaciers south of Sognefjorden that has a primary factor of more than 1000m. The others are Hjortahorgi and the Folgefonni glacier. Fresvikbreen's primary factor is also quite high on Norwegian basis, and the glacier is ranked (by primary factor) as #11 in Norway.
Note: Class ratings are in reference to YDS (Yosemite Decimal System).
Fresvikbreen can be reached via a number of routes, but if you are in for a hike or a ski trip, this is a tough summit to reach. Not in technical terms, but in length and vertical gain. The hike can be dramatically easier if one drives up the Jordalen/Fresvikfjorddalen valleys. Either by a snowscooter in winter, or car in summer. If you get transport all the way to Øvstedalen cabines, then the glacier is quite easy to reach.
Important note for those who seldom take long ski-trips:
The route described in this document is a lengthy and strenuous route from Vikafjellet to Fresvikbreen. It should not be attempted by those not comfortable with a 50Km ski-trip, including a total vertical gain of approx. 1600m. Check your condition along the way. Assume you will be tired when you reach the summit, and realize that you have to go the same distance back to the car. Bring a lot of carbohydrates and enough to drink.
The route described below is probably the best skiing route when you are unable to get transport up the Jordalen/Fresvikfjorddalen valleys.
Vikafjellet - Fresvikbreen (winter, on skis)
From Bergen, follow highway E16 towards Voss. Continue northbound to Vinje, and exit onto highway 13 towards Vik. This road is normally closed during night in the winter season, and the gates normally opens 08:00AM and close 20:00PM. Once up on the Vikafjellet plateau, find parking near Fosse, between lakes Målsetevatnet and Ovrisvatnet. Finding a place to park in winter is not always easy, but should not be a big problem if you're out early.
Trailhead - Lake Muravatnet
Head eastbound to the south end of Valanipa, where you will meet the road to lake Muravatnet (you will see sticks). Turn north-east and follow the road into the pass between Klantane and Valanipa. Then follow the road south-east towards the dam at lake Muravatnet. You have a significant drop down to your left as you head south-east, and parts of this route might be a subject to avalanche. Make sure the snow you're skiing on sits firmly. When you get to the dam, the road turns up the left, and up the point where you have view over the lake.
If the steep mountain side where the road runs look intimidating, you have quite a detour to find a safer route down (only sticks tell you there's a road below). Do not cross the Idlebakken pass further south. It is very steep down to the lake. The safest descent route seems to be a route over the north end of Klantane (a summer trail is indicated on the M711 map) and then south-east down to the lake. This is a good alternative, but will add more vertical meters to your route.
Lake Muravatnet - Kambane/Blåfjellet pass
When regulated, the ice near the dam cracks up and form crevasses, so make sure you find a safe route down to the lake. Seek left from the point where you got your first view towards the lake. Set a straight line towards the north side of Tverrgavlane and make your way up to the pass, with Blåfjellet to your right (among the 70 highest mountains in Hordaland). The vertical gain from the lake to the pass is approx. 200m. On your way back, consider a more direct approach from the pass towards the dam. This will save you time versus going straight down to the lake.
Kambane/Blåfjellet pass - Lake 1295 below Fresvikbreen
The route from the pass down to Vikjadalen looks steep, but should give you absolutely no problems unless large cornices have built up below the pass. Switchback down and aim for the Vikjadalen cabins and continue eastbound towards the upper part of Fresvikfjorddalen valley, where your route turns north-east. As you turn north-east, you have a great south view down to the valleys that run the way to the highway between Gudvangen and Voss. Down on your right you see the Øvstedalen cabins.
About halfway between Øvstedalen and lake 1295, you pass Fresvikvarden. This is a cairn with a nice view towards the south. Continue north-east towards lake 1295.
Lake 1295 - Fresvikbreen summit
Start climbing the mountain on the lake's west side. You will have to switchback northbound, as there are a few crossing ridges before you get onto an easier plateau. From here on, maintain a northbound direction to the summit. Adjust your course slightly westbound when you get closer to the summit. Consider yourself on top when you have unobscured horizon view in all directions.
I gave Petter Bjørstad thumbs up when he asked me to come along for a ski-trip to Fresvikbreen. I am not a skier. Never was, and never will be. But being in OK shape, I assumed I could do this trip. Petter had estimated the trip to approx. 40Km in total, and I'm quite sure he wouldn't have asked if he didn't think I could do it. I reminisced the ski-trip from Skålatårnet to Lodalskåpa last year. If that didn't kill me, then this trip wouldn't either.
The Vikafjellet gates opened a little earlier this Saturday morning, and we were on our way already 08:20AM. We located a good place to park, and the weather seemed to be good and stable. I would have preferred an earlier start, but if the road is closed, it is closed. I quickly started thinking about the timeplan. I assumed we would need 6 hours to the top (3 to Vikjadalen and 3 to the summit). That would give us 4 hours to 18:30PM, which I considered sunset. One more hour wouldn't be critical, as that would give us just enough time to get below the winter gates that closed at 20:00PM. Petter had good speed and I struggled to keep the pace. I had good grip under the skis, as I hate sliding backwards when going uphill. But this resulted in that the skis didn't glide much.
When we got to the road which led to the Muravatnet dam, I was surprised on how steep it was to the valley down to the left. But the skis sat firmly in the snow. If the snow had been hard, I don't think I would have wanted to go this way. It wouldn't have been a fall, but a long nasty slide. We reached the dam 09:30AM, and considered that we were "on route". Lake Muravatnet seemed "endless". And because of a small map reading error (due to the split between two maps), we skied further on the lake than strictly necessary. The minor mishap added approx. 3Km to the route, but it wasn't considered as big problem.
After a long uphill to the pass above Vikjadalen, I was curious if we would face a large cornice hanging down towards the valley. Not so, and we could switchback down the pass. I never considered the pass very steep or dangerous and just set off. I was a little desperate when Petter were already in the valley while I was struggling to get down. I reminded myself that the skis would surely be scraped before we descended from the summit. Vikjadalen valley also never seemed to end. Especially when you have to ski instead of gliding along. When we reached Øvstedalen, I began noticing signs of fatigue and a bad blister on my left heel. I treated myself with a hot drink, oranges and band aid, and was ready for "phase 2".
"Here comes the pain", I was thinking when we left Øvstedalen. 750m uphill was in front of us. Now, I was quite content with skis that didn't glide. The valley was long and I noticed that my upper body muscles wasn't used to all this arm movement. Things got tough. I actually considered dropping the summit. I knew I could make the summit, but then there was 23Km back to the car. I wasn't sure how strong I was. But when you're in the business of "collecting" peaks, I just couldn't handle the fact that I would let this summit go, being so close. I told myself "You love pain!", but that didn't work. It was a lie. "You love mountains!" however worked, and I found the inspiration to move on.
Reaching lake 1295 was mentally good. Only 350m to the summit. Nothing to it! I ignored aching muscles and the headache that had now set in. I was saving the hot drink, as I knew I would need it on the way back, and now the hot sun had set in. I felt I was burning up. After a while, I believed we were about to reach the summit. Petter was way ahead of me. When I reached what I perceived to be the summit, an "infinite" landscape of snow opened up in front of me. "You've GOT to be kidding me", I remember shouting out. It wasn't meant for anyone in particular, but I just couldn't believe the situation. Petter now was a dot in horizon, and I felt really, really tired.
When I reached the summit 14:30PM, Petter was in his usual good mood, and enjoyed the summit to the fullest. Doesn't he ever get tired? I was completely dead, but found the energy to peel the last orange and get a hot drink. I completed a round of pictures before I told Petter that I was leaving. I was worried about how much time I would need on the way back. Petter came along and we left the summit 14:40PM, after removing anything that could stick to snow under the skis. I felt good when I noticed the skis were sliding down. I felt better when I realized I would enjoy this sensation for 750m vertical meters. It didn't take us too long to reach Øvstedalen, and the skis had to be prepared again. The downhill skiing had a major impact on my leg muscles. Now the picture of pain was quite complete, as I also felt nausea and wanted to throw up. Petter saw that a break was called for, and we decided to sit down at the uppermost cabins in Vikjadalen. I tried to eat the bread I had brought along, but couldn't swallow. I was able to push down half a chocolate bar, while finsishing off the hot-drinks. I was looking at the route up to the pass. Nearly 300m vertical gain. Every muscle in my body was aching. I wanted to knock in the door at the cabin, and just stay the night.
15 minutes later, we took on the hidious hill. Several times during the climb, I had to stand still and rest my head on the skipoles. I couldn't remember *ever* being so tired. But after 30-40 seconds, I felt my senses came back, and I assumed that my body was trained enough to recover that fast. This technique finally got me to the top of the pass, and I knew that we only had two more hours to go. I started dreaming about the Coca Cola I had in the car. We took a shortcut down to the lake, and I started motivating myself for the uphill along the road from the dam. It wasn't very steep or very long, but still it was a uphill. When we finally reached the top of the hill, there were no more uphills between us and the car. But I was so exhausted, and had cramps in my legs. I asked for permission to sit for a little while, and Petter patiently waited until I found a reason to live. The stretch back to the car was a nightmare once the downhill was over. Just a long flat area where you have to ski. I saw the road got closer and closer. I pulled myself together and finished off in style, 19:00PM.
In Voss, Petter went into a gas station and bought me 4 bottles of mineral water. Image is nothing. Thirst is everything.
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