Høgste Breakulen means in Norwegian that this is the highest glacier point on Jostedalsbreen, Norway's largest glacier. The nunataks Brenibba and Lodalskåpa are higher. A cairn, marking the highest rock point can be found approx. 200m southwest of the highest glacier point. During our visit in May 2005, someone had dug in the snow and a marker was visible.
There are numerous routes up to the Jostedalen glacier, all demanding. A trip up to the glacier is a trip you remember for life. On this web page, I have described the route from Gjerde across Steinmannen. This is known to be one of the easier routes (at least to Høgste Breakulen), and is popular for those who want a day-trip up to the glacier. It is fully possible to include Høgste Breakulen (1957m), Kjenndalskruna (1829m), Brenibba (2017m) and Lodalskåpa (2081m) on one long day during spring. This round trip require very strong skiers, optimal snow conditions and optimal weather.
The trip up to Høgste Breakulen across Steinmannen is a typical day-trip, and the normal estimate is 10-12 hours in total. Number of members in the party, weight of your backpack, weather and snow conditions will influence the total time. It is a magnificient trip in spectacular surroundings and fully deserves to be put in the category of "classic" ski-trips.
Høgste Breakulen (M711: 1957m, Ø.K: -) has a primary factor of 287m towards the higher Brenibba (2017m). The saddle is found on the glacier E of Kjenndalskruna. Ref. the 1418-III Jostedalen map (20m contours), you cross the 1680m contours on the high route, but not 1660m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 1670m.
The height will vary with the snow level. My GPS indicated that the elevation was 1961m during my visit in May 2005.
Hauganosi (M711: 1455m, Ø.K: -) has a primary factor of 45m towards the higher Høgste Breakulen (1957m). The saddle is found NW of Hauganosi. Ref. the 1418-III Jostedalen map (20m contours), you cross the 1420m contours on the high route, but not 1400m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 1410m.
Notes: Class ratings are in reference to YDS. Click here for more information.
The trails described below are not necessarily the *easiest* trails to this mountain.
Gjerde - Hauganosi - Steinmannen - Høgste Breakulen (spring)
Locate highway RV604 up Jostedalen, starting from Gaupne (approx. 28Km from Sogndal). Drive approx. 30,3Km and turn left towards "Bergset". Drive 500m up this road and park at the Haugafjellstølen trailhead.
Follow "T" marked trail northbound towards the Haugafjellstølen cabins. The amount of snow will determine when the trail disappears and when it is time to put the skis on. There is no need to go all the way to Haugafjellstølen. Start heading up Hauganosi's southeast ridge as soon as you decide you are in skiing terrain.
The trip up to Hauganosi is the steepest part of the entire route. Stay central on the ridge and avoid going too far to the left or to the right. At approx. 1360m you arrive Haugavarden - a viewpoint marked by a high cairn. Everything gets much easier from this point. The route up to Hauganosi summit is trivial. Hauganosi summit is marked by a small cairn.
The next point of interest is Steinmannen at 1633m elevation. Stay central on the ridge from Hauganosi to Steinmannen. There are two huts and two sheds on top. From Steinmannen, you have approx. 5Km skiing ahead of you before you reach the top of Høgste Breakulen. See "introduction" above for details about the top.
A spring ski-trip in Sogn og Fjordane has now become tradition; Tindefjellbreen in 2002, Gjegnen in 2003 and Meneseggen in 2004. We never reached the Jostedalsbreen glacier back in 2002, and May 2005 was the time for another try. My friend Lars indicated over a year ago that he and his wife wanted to visit this glacier. I asked my friend Bjørn if he wanted to come along. He wanted to bring his son Anders, age 12.
While Lars and I have known each other for many years, we don't have a long mountain history together. We visited Veslefjellet (1743m, highest point on Besseggen) back in 1992. 15 years went by before Lars and I headed up to Gullfjellet and a few other Bergen mountains, and I looked very much forward to spend time with Lars on a mountain again. I was glad that Cathrine would come along, and hoped that she would experience wonderful Sogn and Fjordane from its best side.
Bjørn and I go on everything from small to great adventures once a year; Jotunheimen (1999), Rocky Mountains (2000), Jotunheimen (2001), Kebnekaise/Halti (2002), Mt. Blanc (2003) and Iceland (2004). I can always count on Bjørn, and when he said that his 12-year old son would be up to the task, I had no reason to think otherwise.
Lars and Cathrine drove from Tønsberg, Bjørn and Anders from Oslo and me from Bergen, and we all met at Jostedal Hotell Friday May 13th. Jostedal Hotell was a nice place to stay, and Laila welcomed us like with generous Sogn and Fjordane hospitality. Over a couple of beers, we went through the plans for the next day.
If the weather is at its best in this part of Norway, it is easier to push yourself beyond your normal limits. If the weather is bad (or really bad), moving on the Jostedalsbreen glacier can be a great personal challenge. I had suggested a route that would take us to the glacier in a fairly easy manner. Once up there, we would have all the options (Kjenndalskruna, Brenibba, Lodalskåpa). If the weather wasn't on our side, we could head down the same way, but at least we would have collected the glacier high point. This was the basic plan, which everyone agreed to.
We would carry enough technical equipment (ice axes, crampons, rope) to be able to climb Lodalskåpa if we got that far, and in case the mountain was icy. As such, some of us had heavy backpacks, which is never optimal when you have a 1750m hill ahead of you.
To Høgste Breakulen
We left the trailhead 09:15AM the next morning and walked on foot up to 680m elevation before we could put the skis on. Lars was looking forward to skiing down the mountain already before he got started, and walked up with T2 boots. I wore my T4's while the rest of the group chose normal equipment for cross-country skiing. It took us nearly 1,5 hours up to 680m, and some time was spent for adjustments on backpacks, boots and clothes. It's important to get the equipment "settled" from the very beginning.
It felt good to be skiing. Moving upwards became easier and the backpacks felt a bit lighter. We all chose to use skins up the steep ridge to Hauganosi, but the skins were replaced with klister when we reached Haugavarden 13:20PM. I was tired of my heavy backpack already, cutting deep into my shoulders and causing headache. The rest of the group seemed strong, even if Bjørn and Lars were carrying heavy weight. Anders appeared to find the trip more fun by the hour. The weather was OK. Clouds were the dominating picture, but the sun found the way through a few holes here and there and it was enough to make the day feel just great.
The nature around us was overwhelming, and it was easy to forget about headaches, blisters and other details with this panorama. And the panorama became more majestic every meter we rose above the valley. In the middle of it all was Hurrungane, among the very finest of peaks in Norway.
On the final hill to Steinmannen, the effort became more noticeable. We had walked and skied approx. 10Km and gained approx. 1400m vertical meters. This would only have been pure fun if it hadn't been for the heavy backpacks. And from Steinmannen, there was still 5Km to go. My back was nearly killing me, and I was on the border of moving from enjoying myself to having a real bad day. It was tremendously annoying, as the problem wasn't the weight. It was just a bad "back day". I asked the group if they thought they would be able to reach Lodalskåpa, and outlined the distance we would have to ski in order to reach - and return from this mountain. If not, I would leave the rope and the hardware and enjoy the rest of the trip. Probably for various individual reasons, we agreed to take Lodalskåpa out of the plan. When we reached Steinmannen 16:20PM, my spirit was restored and I looked forward to move on.
On the way up to the glacier, the wind gained and fog was moving in over the glacier top. A ray of sunshine caused a sudden halt in the fine flow we had on skis. Actually, the flow halted completely and we attempted in various ways to remove the klister and find ways to ski again. Things got a bit better when the sun disappeared and the snow got colder. When we reached 1700m elevation, the wind was now an element we had to take into consideration. More clothes had to come on. The group was now getting tired, hungry and chilly, and the fog had now come upon us. Visibility came and went. Nature became second priority. The top was the only goal now. I asked Anders (yelled is perhaps more accurate, considering the wind) how he was doing. He thought this was fun. It seemed like the rougher it got, the more fun it was. Anders - you have a good mountaineering future ahead of you!
We reached the top 19:20PM and we didn't stay long. We found a marker in the snow, and the GPS said 1961m. A break in the fog gave us a brief 360 degree view, and there was no doubt that we were on the highest glacier point on Jostedalsbreen. It had taken us 10 hours to get there and we congratulated each other with reaching the main goal. Bjørn had even carried a half bottle of whisky! He had taken me by surprise when he pulled out three cans of beer on Glittertind back in 1999, but carrying half a bottle of whisky in addition to the heavy backpack only means that Bjørn really knows how to celebrate the very finest of moments.
We could now either ski into the fog and head for Kjenndalskruna, or head back down to Steinmannen and camp there. I had a very strong feeling that the fog had come to stay and recommended we headed down to Steinmannen. If the weather cleared up, we could always follow a different route towards Kjenndalskruna with less vertical gain. Everyone agreed to this and we skied back down to Steinmannen.
We rigged camp 400m west of the Steinmannen huts. It felt good to be out of the fog and the cold glacier winds. It was getting late in the evening and dinner had priority. Bjørn, Anders and I shared one tent while Lars and Cathrine shared the other. After a nice dinner it was time to gather strength for the next day. I had problems falling to sleep, as I always have just after exercise. Besides, my mind wandered on about how the next day would be like, providing the weather would improve. At 03:00AM, I went outside for a weather check. The fog was thick, and I saw nothing except the neighbour tent. I knew that there would be no trip up to the glacier the next morning, and I fell immediately to sleep after realizing this.
The weather was slightly better when we got up the next morning. We could see the Steinmannen huts, but the glacier could not be seen. The light was very difficult and it was evident that we had to take it easy down the mountain. Not everyone had slept equally well. When it comes to finding the right mountaineering equipment, you seldom get it right the first time. Sleeping bags included.
We broke camp just before 10:00AM and Lars, who had the best glasses for this type of light, was put in front. He was able to see the vague contours of our tracks from the day before, which made significantly improved the progress. The small cairn I had built on the rock where I left the rope came in very useful in the fog. I had the entire ascent route recorded on GPS, which would have been a useful back-up. However, this particular route is very easy to navigate on. A friend of mine had taught me the "beauty" of steep cliffs which would help you to learn where you are. This ridge had steep cliffs on both sides, but I must have done something wrong in conveying this theory, as some didn't find the thought particulary relaxing.
We reached Haugavarden 11:15AM and could see down to Jostedalen. We could now enjoy skiing free in the steep slopes down to the trail. Lars, an excellent Telemark skier, finally got paid for walking up in T2 boots. The snow was unfortunately very soft and it was difficult to avoid falling. With the heavy backpacks, it was even difficult to get back up standing. Those who had cross-country skis had more challenges than the others. It's a trade-off. Easier when going up, harder when going down. After descending the forest, we were back at the trailhead 13:10PM. A long and hard, but very rewarding trip had now come to its end. This was the second time that weather had prevented me from exploring the glacier, but there's always hope for the next time around.
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.
Thanks to Pelle Gangeskar for good input regarding a few of the pictures.
On the way to Jostedalen, May 13 2005
Touring in Jostedalen, May 13 2005
Up to Hauganosi, May 14 2005
Steinmannen, Breakulen and Camp, May 14 2005
Descent, May 15 2005
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