Kvamshesten seen on the way to Førde
Kvamshesten is the kind of mountain that will attract your attention the minute you see it. It is located on a peninsula south of Førdefjorden and north of Dalsfjorden, and rises proud and mighty above the Bygstad community. Even if Blægja (1304m) is a higher mountain and within close proximity of Kvamshesten, Kvamshesten is the dominating peak when you approach from the south and east.
Kvamshesten is also referred to as Storehesten (Big Horse) and is a popular hiking goal for a large region in Sunnfjord. Just east of Kvamshesten, you will find Litlehesten (Little Horse, 912m). Litlehesten resembles the Lifjell massif (west end of Sognefjorden), being a long plateau with steep cliffbands.
Several routes lead to the Kvamshesten summit. All except the standard west ridge route must be classified as advanced. Even the west ridge route can cause problems in icy conditions. The west ridge is the route described in this document. The views from the summit is quite extensive in all directions. The enormous mountain plateau south of Sognefjorden, the Ålfotbreen/Gjegnalundsbreen glaciers in the north, the mountains near Jostedalsbreen in the east, to name a few viewpoints.
The best trail to the base of Kvamshesten is described on the Blægja page. The route described in this document is an alternative trail, but more cumbersome than the standard route to Blægja/Kvamshesten. However, this page describes the west ridge approach.
Kvamshesten has a primary factor of 349m towards the higher Blægja. The saddle is found near some small lakes just east of lake 840m. One pond drains to lake 840, while the neighbour pond drains to NE. One can walk between these ponds. The 860m 20m contours almost meet here, so there is no reason to interpolate.
Note: Class ratings are in reference to YDS (Yosemite Decimal System).
Bygstad - Kvamshesten (late autumn, snow > 900m)
From Bergen, follow highway E39 northbound. Outside Bergen you must pass the Nordhordlandsbrua bridge. Toll fare per Oct. 2003 is NOK 45,-. Continue to Oppedal and take the ferry across Sognefjorden to Lavik. Drive to Vadheim and take the road to Førde. At Sande, exit left onto highway 610 (Dale). Follow this road until you reach the highway 57 junction by Dalsfjorden. Turn right onto highway 57 and drive to Bygstad. At the Laukeland/Førde junction in Bygstad, turn left towards Laukeland. Drive along Svædsundet pass. The road then turns northbound. Just as the road makes a sharp turn to the left, exit right onto a smaller road that runs up to Sele. At approx. 190m elevation, exit right on the second distinct gravel road that goes off to the right. Drive to the nearest house and ask for permission to park.
Follow the gravel road upwards to approx. 400m elevation. When you get Langedalen valley into view and the road begins to descend, it is time to leave the road. Under the steep cliffs of Kvamshesten, you can spot the Rabbane cabin. This is where you will be heading. Between you and this cabin is a forest. Seek towards the left (the wrong way) until you find a natural opening in the forest. A path runs here. Follow this path upwards (you may follow this path on your descent and avoid most of the forest road)
The path through the forest will take you to Rabbane, and continue high on the west side of Langedalen valley. Several paths runs at various elevations, but you should be able to follow the path you are on until you reach the first crossing stream, just after a characteristic cliff up to your left. Cross the stream and follow a path up to lake Skardavatnet. Pass the lake on the right hand side (north). Pass the next pond on the left (south) before you continue on a ridge above lake Seltuftevatnet towards lake 785m.
Pass lake 785m on the right hand side (north). The path is still visible. Above 900m, the terrain gets rockier. The course should be obvious. Head south-west towards the point 1114m on the Kvamshesten western ridge. From 1114m, the route continues east towards Kvamshesten and you will see smaller cairns guiding you towards the summit plateau. The summit is marked by a proper cairn.
A path also runs up Kvamsskardet and takes you to lake Seltuftevatnet. A path runs on the south side of the lake and joins the ridge between lakes 785m and Skardavatnet. This route is a good variation upon your descent. Note that slick rock run down to lake Seltuftevatnet, which makes it more difficult in wet conditions, and downright dangerous in icy conditions.
A steep section runs from the west ridge towards the summit area. In dry conditions, the cairn trail will guide you safely to the top. In icy conditions, this route is exposed and it may be wise to look for a variation to this route in less exposed terrain. Look for alternatives nearby.
Kvamshesten had been on my to-do list for several years. I've been admiring this steep mountain on my trips to Stølsheimen. There was no doubt I would visit this mountain one day. I had even purchased the Bygstad map. All ready to go. So when my friend Petter called me and mentioned Kvamshesten as a hiking goal, I was all up for the idea. Finding a "babysitter" for Troll turned out to be difficult, so I decided to bring him along. After all, I had carried him all the way to Midtfjell, and I could always carry him 1200m upwards once more.
We left Rytnane 09:45PM this Saturday morning. Troll always shows his best side when I have company, and walked willingly up the forest road. Petter had made a call the night before and taken care of permission to park. Some information I had gathered a few years ago, came in handy now. Thanks to Geir Harald Kapstad for providing me very useful information back in Mar 2001.
When the forest road began to descend, we headed into the forest, hoping to find a trail to Rabbane. We did soon and followed a trail/path all the way to Kvamskardet pass. This route took us onto the slick rock area above lake Seltuftevatnet. This passage was clearly the crux of the route. The mountain was iced down and without crampons we had to be extremely careful to avoid falling into the lake. When we thought the worst part was over it just got worse and we had to escape these rocks.
We got onto the high ridge between Kvamshesten and the lake and commenced on much safer ground. The north side of Kvamshesten was an intimidating sight. Given excellent summer conditions I saw a route straight up the north side, and after some debate with Petter, also a route up the east ridge. But now everything was icy, and the west ridge was the only option. We had a small break at lake 785m before heading up point 1114m. The snow began after 900m and Troll had to be placed in the back pack. The weather had been fairly good, but the winds were absolutely noticeable above 1000m. It was also difficult to disregard the deep pockets of snow above 1000m. You could never tell if the snow would hold or break. Step by step, this gets tiresome in the long run. For every 10 step, we were sure to fall into a deep hole. Knee height and then some. Petter was breaking most of the trail, even if I tried to do my part. But with 8-9Kg extra in the backpack, strength were quickly escaping.
As we entered below the summit block, cairns guided us diagonal up the mountain. Suddenly there was significant exposure and I decided that I would not continue on this route. I suggested an alternative route and Petter checked this route out. It was marginally doable. This means I didn't feel very comfortable at a couple of places. But soon I was on the summit plateau and saw the cairn 5-10 minutes further away. We reached the summit 13:40PM. It took us nearly 4 hours to the summit, which is quite long for a mountain of this height, but explainable.
The viewsched was awesome. If the winds had been less strong I could have stayed much longer on this summit. After Troll had consumed his traditional lunch box, he went into serious shivering mode. I covered him with a jacket and by the way he tried to hide his head, I understood that this wasn't exactly heaven. We left the summit 15 minutes later. On our way down the steep summit block, we had to slide on our asses for a short bit as that was the only way to descend in a controlled fashion. Again, this hike is much more fun in dry conditions. At any cost, we wanted to avoid the icy cliffs above lake Seltuftevatnet and headed straight for lake Skardavatnet. A visible path took us safely into Langedalen valley, and we followed our tracks back to Rabbane. We continued on the path down the forest, and instead of leaving this path for the road, we hiked it all the way down. The path ended not too far away from the trailhead. This trail is not easy to see from the road, and not very easy to follow in the beginning. As such, I recommend that one follows the forest road until it starts to descend. We reached the trailhead 15:55PM, two hours after we left the summit. We arrived Bergen 13 hours after we left the city. I managed to stay awake for about one hour before I went into a deep 13 hour sleep. As the dog didn't make any attempt to wake me up the next morning, it was safe to conclude that the hike had made a certain impact on the both of us.
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