Kjerringafjellet above Ulvik
Although small in comparision to the mighty mountain range that stretches from Voss towards Hardangerjøkulen, Kjerringafjellet and Kvasshovden offers spectacular views to the already mentioned mountains. In addition, you will have great views to mountains around the Hardangerfjord. The Ulvik and Granvin kommune border runs across the mountain. Kjerringafjellet lies within Ulvik, while Kvasshovden summit lies within both.
Kvasshovden's factor towards the higher Midtfjell is 487m. The saddle is just north of Ø. Skjelmarhaugen. Last adjacent 5m contour lines are 580m, giving an interpolated saddle of 578m. Kjerringafjellet's factor towards the higher Kvasshovden is 187m. The saddle is 878m just SW of Tjørnane lakes. Last adjacent 5m contour lines are 580m, giving an interpolated saddle of 578m.
Note: Class ratings are in reference to YDS (Yosemite Decimal System).
I was not able to find a public trail up the mountain. As such, the below route is a "fight the forest" route, and is not recommended for anyone. The hardest pitch on the route is 2+, which is while fighting the forest. On the plateau, the routes are classified as class 2. The ascent up Kjerringafjellet is safe and very little exposed if the right route is chosen.
Hwy 572 - Kjerringafjellet & Kvasshovden (summer/autumn) NOT RECOMMENDED!
From the RV13/E16 junction east of Voss, follow RV13 towards Granvin. Approx 21,2km from the Voss junction, exit east onto RV572 (Ulvik). Follow 572 up to - and pass lake Espelandsvatnet. Just after the lake, cross a small bridge and exit right onto a gravel road. This junction is 10,5km from the RV13/RV572 junction. Follow the gravel road straight ahead for 300m (ignore the small gravel road going right in the very beginning) and park by a gate in front of a few cabins.
Up the mountain
Go through the gate, and follow the gravel road. The road turns into a trail when a gravel tractor road forks right. Don't follow this tractor road. It leads nowhere. Follow the trail (could be wet) until you arrive a forest (within 30 minutes after the gate). At the forest, the trail takes a direction away from the mountain. The forest is easily identified, due to the way it has been cut. Apparently, there is a trail somewhere, but if you need to get up the mountain, hike straight up the forest as far as it goes. Hiking in the forest is easy, as long as you avoid the sharp branches that point out from the trees.
Above the forest, you have to fight bushes and birch until you reach a deep canyon (!). Get around the canyon on the far left hand side and continue fighting bush upwards the mountain. You will probably end in a small valley that will take you to two branches of Grøstølelvi stream coming down the mountain. By the river, you will find a trail that takes you to a viewpoint at 890m.
From point 890m, you have Kvasshovden on the south side of the plateau. Don't start looking for trails. Stay on the left hand side of the plateau lakes and head for the pass between Kvasshovden and point 1019m. Way before the pass, you can start ascending Kvasshovden. On top you reach a false summit (small cairn) and you will have to descend slightly before you can climb up to Kvasshovden summit, a little further away.
From the false summit on Kvasshovden, you have a complete view of Kjerringafjellet. You are not the only one to wonder if it is safe to ascend this mountain. But looks are deceiving. It's a "doddle". From Kvasshovden, return down the same way and pass the plateau lakes on the left hand side. Then head towards the centre of the Kjerringafjellet south side, the only obvious place to climb up. There are several routes that takes you straight up. Pick one. Once up, go around the nearest lake. A false summit is just behind the lake, but the true summit is just behind the one you see.
Go down the same way, but take a shortcut between two of the closest lakes. From point 890m, follow your ascent route down.
The day didn't start good. I drove from Bergen 07:30AM with ambitions to scale Onen (1621m) above Osa. Quite a long drive, but the weather forecast was good. Winds were mentioned on the forecast, but I didn't pay attention. I had been wanting this mountain for so long, and nothing was to stop me. I planned to stay the night in Ulvik and do Vassfjøra the next day. Two of the majesties in one week-end. The weather along the way was good. I felt the rush.
The "nothing will stop me" notion was immediately shaken off when I got out of the car at lake Langvatnet (1100m+ vertical gain from Osafjorden). There were three problems. The mountain was fogged in and due to an insane wind, it was freezing cold. I had sufficient clothing, but the grin on the dog's face told its story. Normally, neither fog nor winds stop me from hiking (especially having driven so far), but the third problem was that the whole bloody mountain was iced down. It would have been suicide to attempt any hiking at all up there. Defeated, I left the mountain.
I had my backseat full of maps, and when I noticed Kjerringafjellet on my way from Ulvik to Granvin, I decided this was a perfect mountain. When I noticed Kvasshovden on the map (didn't see it from the road) I was very cheerful. Two ranked mountains above 1000m was comfort good enough. Only problem was the route up. No trails were shown on the map, and the mountain looked very steep. It looked less steep further south, but the mountain side was full of bushes and trees. I stopped a old man walking along side the road. He was surely over 90, and I didn't understand a single word he was saying. I just nodded politely while he was waving towards the mountain, apparently describing the route. I drove on and pulled over to three men standing on a turnout. Yup, they knew a trail up there. Just follow the gravel road from where they were standing, enter a trail and locate a trail on the left hand side of the river coming down. It was very important I found this trail, they said. As it was almost impossible to get up the mountain through the bushes. I thanked them, drove as far as I could on the gravel road and began the hike.
After a few minutes, the gravel road turned 90 degrees to the right while a narrow trail went straight ahead over wetlands. I followed the gravel road which led absolutely nowhere. Back at the junction, I followed the wetland trail and started to look for the river. I found none. The trail began to fade and move away from the mountain, so I decided to enter the mountain the hard way. I started hiking up through the pine forest. This wasn't all that bad, as there were space between the trees. More dangerous were all the branches pointing out like arrows. I had put Troll in the backpack, and had to focus hard, so both of us could return with our eyes intact. Above the forest, a wall of bushes and birch signaled that hard work was about to begin. After a few whips I noticed Troll pulled his head down in the backpack. Only the nosetip showed. Wise move. After fighting bushes for a while, I entered a deep canyon. This was the last thing I had expected to find up there. Getting down to the canyon called for caution, as turfs were covering deep holes. Getting up on the other side was interesting, as I had to slide sideways through some largs rocks before I could continue up the birch forest. The forest was now steeper than ever, and I had to use branches to pull myself up. 90% were rotten and snapped. Once above the forest I looked back down and promised myself I would take another route down. And just as I thought the worst part was over, there was ice almost everywhere. But eventually, I made it up to the look-out point between the two peaks. On the way to the look-out, I ran into a quite visible trail. At last, some good news.
The winds I had felt at Langvatnet whipped over the plateau, and I had to put on winter clothing. The bright sun had no effect. It was freezing cold. I quickly reached Kvasshovden summit, and started to focus on Kjerringafjellet. It looked very steep, and I couldn't decide if it was impossible or downright easy. But on my way up the middle section of Kjerringafjellet south side, it was clear that there would be no problems. After leaving the summit, I was now looking forward to get back down on a trail. I felt a significant disappointment when I wasn't able to follow this trail for more than 100m. I searched all around, but no found no continuation. It just stopped! I decided to go down the same way I went up. After all, there would be no further surprises.
After a tormenting descent through the forest, I reached the car 5 hours after leaving it. I had pieces of forest even inside my underwear. I am not recommending this route to anyone.
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