Askjellfjellet seen from the mountain road
These mountains lie between the lakes Holskardvatnet, Askjellsdalsvatnet and Skjerjavatnet in the central part the Stølsheimen mountain range. Thanks to a mountain service road, these peaks are easily accessible in summer and autumn.
All of the mountains have some steep vertical sides, but there are no technical challenges if one stick with the easy routes. The three mountains above 1200m form distinct ridges.
Gavlafjellet, Hellesåta and Sørdalsfjellet lie in Modalen kommune, while Modalen shares the Askjellfjellet summit with Vaksdal kommune. Once you're in this area, don't miss Skjerjavasshovden, 1264m, the highest mountain in Vaksdal kommune. The mountain is easily accessible from the mountain road you came up.
The route below starts at the dam by lake Askjellsdalsvatnet, and describes a long rountrip covering the mentioned mountains. Amount of snow melted will determine how far you can drive on the service road. The amount of snow in June 2002 was less than typical for the season, I was told by some local hikers. June 25th, I could drive all the way to the Askjellsdalsvatnet dam. The service road continues all the way to Holskardvatnet, but my guess is that it won't be possible to drive all the way up until fall. In general, don't expect to get much further than lake 707m in June.
Anyway, Askjellsdalsvatnet dam is at approx. 800m, more than high enough for hiking. You should consider parking at lake 707m. At least you will gain 500 vertical meters on your first mountain. However on this route, vertical meters are "traded" for kilometers.
Lake Askjellsdalsvatnet - over 4 peaks and back (summer/autumn)
Trip report June 22 2002:
I woke up to the sound of rain, in a tent by lake Askjellsdalsvatnet.
Not totally unexpected, as the forecast was miserable. However, it was
such a beautiful evening the night before, and I had some minor
hopes that the weather people had got it wrong.
Not so, and I decided to wait until the rain stopped before we got up. After the evening hike, the dog woke up exactly as I had put him the night before. I can't remember the last time that had happened. Normally he rotates a dozen times before he find true comfort. I had some concerns that he was not at "peak performance", and I found the answer to my question one hour later.
At 9:00AM we left the tent, and at 9:30, the sound of small steps behind me, vanished. Troll had taken the "no go" position, 100m behind. As usual, I opened the backpack, and the dog came running like the backpack contained thousands of bisquits. I always wonder how tired he really is, and if he's laughing silently all the way to the summit....
As it began to rain, the mountains fogged in. And with a dog in protest mode, I decided to do Askjellfjellet and hit home. The ridge up to the summit was slightly cumbersome. For a dog. I decided to keep him in the backpack, even though he could be willing to do some walking. On the summit, I was still determined to head back home, but decided to return via Hellesåta. I noticed it wasn't ranked, but it had the size of a real mountain and I decided to add it to the list.
Back on the service road, after descent from Hellesåta, it stopped raining. By now, I had entered "could-walk-forever" mode and decided to climb up to Gavlafjellet. The eastern side looked a little steep, and I was angry for not bringing the axe. But as I got closer, it wasn't steep after all, and I could walk all the way up to the ridge.
Due to a solid breakfast, I had only brought a small box of rasins. This came in handy, as I still was carrying the dog, and noticed that I had walked for a while. Fully recharged, I quickly decided to do Sørdalsfjellet. Coming from Hellesåta, it is natural to Sørdalsfjellet before Gavlafjellet, although nothing is gained in terms of altitude or distance. The Sørdalsfjellet ridge seemed to last forever. As I arrived the obvious summit area, I couldn't see any cairn. But after a quick area-check, I found the broken trig. point and checked in my fourth summit for the day. Content, we sat course for the tent. I decided that Troll could walk all the way back to the tent, which he did.
I was puzzled by the many snowfields covering the road here and there. I couldn't find any reasonable explanation to why all the snow in a small given region didn't melt simulatenously. This thought was replaced by why they built this long and good road which was obviously only open at most two months per year. Later I was told that there was all-year-round activity up here before. Many (and long) water tunnels have been built up here. This gave the answer to another thought from one of my previous hikes in the area - "so much water - unused".
The route milestones: (Start time 09:00AM)
Pictures from the June 22 2002 hike (sequential order):
Move cursor to read notes, and click on the images to see full version.
Some of the thumbnails may have been cropped to fit the format
Pictures from other hikes: