Norwegian Mountains, Sogn og Fjordane
Kattanakken, Aug 8 2010
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Anne Rudsengen and me were enjoying ourselves in the Nordfjord region this weekend. The day before, we hiked Storskredfjellet (1814m) from Åning by Strynevatnet. After this fantastic hike, we drove to Melkevoll Bretun in Oldedalen, where we had rented a cabin for the rest of the weekend.
I had of course heard that Oldedalen was a beautiful valley, and I also recognized the fact that 100,000 tourists visit Briksdalsbreen every year. But I always figured that I had seen my share of pretty valleys and nice glaciers, and didn't think I had missed much. But now that Anne took the initiative for a visit, I was more than happy to come along.
By the time we got to Melkevoll Bretun, I was already completely blown away. The valley, the peaks, the lake, the waterfalls and the glaciers above. Godalmighty! I was now bonded with the place for life...
On Saturday evening, we took a walk around the camp site, and I was overwhelmed by all the details and effort that had been put into this place. All those pockets for tents and cars - naturally sheltered, walkways, bridges and not to forget the many huge rocks - ideal for bouldering.
Sunday morning, we were ready for Kattanakken. Bordering to childish, I looked so much forward to walk on Jostedalsbreen again. We didn't plan a long walk. Kattanakken was the main goal and a walk on the glacier would be a big bonus. The weather was outstanding, and we headed out 10:10am, just after breakfast.
This was my first walk in Briksdalen - ever! The valley was of course packed with tourists, but once we got on the path to Kattanakken, we had the area all to ourselves. Well, almost. We met a couple of French hikers who had turned around because of a flooded path along the river. We said they could follow us, on a small detour into the forest.
At 10:55am, we came to the point where the path took direction towards Kattanakken instead of the Briksdalsbreen glacier. We had 1100 vertical meters ahead of us, which isn't a big concern on any normal day. But today was a warm day, and the hike to Storskredfjellet (1600 vertical meters) still hadn't quite left our legs. While waiting for the big views towards the surrounding glaciers and mountains, I found great pleasure in diving into the macro world...
At 960 meters, the plod up the forest was over, and now we were on the ridge proper. This place on the ridge is locally referred to as Sauskårholten, and offers mighty fine views towards Oldedalen and Briksdalen. We stopped for lunch, watching the French couple disappear higher up on the ridge. They were practically carrying nothing, while we were prepared for almost anything (ropes and climbing gear excluded...)
After a 10-minute break, we moved on. The ridge was definitely steep, and invited to light scrambling as well as a certain tolerance for heights. I made a mental note about stating in my trip report that this was not a route for the average tourist. Hereby done. After a while, we met the French couple, enjoying the views. They said they had been to the top, but .. no way! That said, the definition of the Kattanakken top may vary. Read on.
The ridge was fun from the beginning to the end. After the initial steep section, the summit ridge appeared as a pyramid-shaped peak in the distance. The cool shape came as a big surprise to us (we had expected a far more dull ridge), and were on the border of a slight euphoria by now...
We passed a fine viewpoint at 1380 meters and found a visitor's register in a box nearby (we didn't actually discover it until we descended). The paper sheet said "Toppen av Kattanakken", although the high point was still 450 meters to the southeast. Those 450 meters would certainly not buy us any finer views, but now that we're in the trade of visiting summits, Kattanakken was still not yet ours to claim. And below the visitor's register, was the "crux" (the hardest point) of the route (YDS class 3). It wasn't difficult by any means or standards, but we still decided to pass this point without our backpacks on.
After a fun walk across the summit ridge, we reached Kattanakken summit (approx. 1450 meters) 1:45pm - close to 3,5 hrs after leaving the trailhead. And there it was - right there in front of us; Jostedalsbreen - Norway's white roof. My Jostedalsbreen track record is short, but at least I've crossed it - and been to the most significant tops along the main glacier. But all year around, I feel a strong attraction to it. And Anne's job is (a.o.) to look after this glacier (park ranger stuff). She actually gets paid for it. Come on! How lucky can you get? Surely this glacier is big enough for the both of us? She gets the southern half, and ...
After a short stay at the summit, we were eager to take a walk on the glacier and moved on. There was no need for a rope, as long as the rules were followed. The 3 most important rules are; 1) don't eat yellow snow, 2) don't step on white snow and ... (drumroll) ... 3) don't fall. And to really top our day, the sun decided to chase the clouds away...
After a jolly good walkabout on the glacier, we returned to Kattanakken and began our descent. The hike down was altogether a different experience in the sunshine. My camera was almost cooking from taking over 400 pictures throughout the hike. The idea about the amount of pictures is that a rich person reads this report, falls completely in love with the area, buys all my pictures at an outstanding price, allowing me to get by on government wages, while I do park ranger stuff the northern half of the Jostedalsbreen glacier...
Hikes such as this one shouldn't really come to an end, but at some point - you start thinking about dinner. And a beer. As such, the motivation to return to civilization grew, and we kept a steady pace down the mountain. Briksdalen was still packed by tourists by the time we returned, and at least - now I understand why.
We returned to Melkevoll Bretun 5:30pm - 7h:20m after leaving. After a quick shower, we headed up to Briksdalen Fjellstove for a nice meal. The main course was tasty, but it didn't satisfy my hunger. I considered a round of sour creme porrage, but ended up with a chocolate ice-cream dessert instead. And the beer was nice of course, and there was more of it down by the cabin.
A bit later in the evening, Inge Melkvoll (the managing director of Melkevoll Bretun) paid us a visit in our cabin. This was a very interesting visit, and I learned more about Oldedalen in one hour than I've done in all my life. I made well sure to congratulate him with an outstanding camp site, and I wish him and his family the best of success in the years to come.
At 3:30am, Monday morning, I returned to Sunnmøre. It could have been the euphoria (I don't know), but I didn't get much sleep that night. The quiet Hornindalsvatnet with reflections everywhere only added flavour to the already magnificent weekend. I took the mountain road from Hornindalsvatnet to Austefjord, and made sure to take it nice and easy when I passed the farmlands. And sure enough, a flock of deer was standing on the middle of the road. They spook easily, but the sheep at Grøndalen is a different sort. At one point, I had to get out of the car to remove a small family from the middle of the road. I got home at 6am, hit the bed 6:01am and fell immediately to sleep. And when the alarm went off at 7am - Godalmighty...
The pictures were taken with a Canon EOS 550D + Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM F 4-5.6
(Full size images)
(Images scaled down.
From Loen to Oldedalen (and Melkevoll Bretun), Aug 7 2010
Into Briksdalen, Aug 8 2010
To the Kattanakken ridge, Aug 8 2010
Up Kattanakken, Aug 8 2010
Kattanakken panoramas, Aug 8 2010
On the Jostedalsbreen glacier, Aug 8 2010
Descent, Kattanakken, Aug 8 2010
Descent, Briksdalen, Aug 8 2010
Heading home in the middle of the night, Aug 9 2010
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