The Meneseggi (Meneseggen)/Jostefonni traverse is a classic Sogn og Fjordane advanced ridge traverse, normally done on skis in late spring. The traverse is strenuous and challenging, and includes elements of steep and airy terrain along the way. The traverse is normally done over two long days and comprise a 45Km long route and 3700 upward meters! This traverse is also arranged by Bergen Turlag Fjellsportgruppen, The trip may compare to "Josten på langs" (traverse of the Jostedalsbreen glacier), although this trip is shorter. In optimal conditions, the trip can be done without safety equipment (ropes, axe, crampons), and the skis only have to come off for a few short pitches. With hard snow/ice, crampons, axe and possibly a rope is required. Depending on the snow conditions, this route runs through avalanche terrain, although most of the high route runs on ridges. It is strongly recommended that you take this trip with a guide the first time.
The views along the top ridge are breathtaking. With Vetlefjorden down on your left and Fjærlandfjorden down on your right, you get a solid feeling of traversing a ridge. The hundreds of majestic peaks all around only adds flavour to the experience. The pictures on this web-page tell the story. Melsnipa (1547m) is the highest point on the Meneseggi ridge, while Sundfjordbjørnen (1615m) is the highest point on the traverse.
The Balestrand/Sogndal kommune border runs along the Meneseggi summits. The Førde/Balestrand kommune border runs across Sundfjordbjørnen (highest point on Jostefonni glacier), while Gottopphesten lies within Balestrand kommune. The Jostefonni (Jostefonn) glacier covers 12,5Km2. This does not rank Jostefonni among Norway's 15 largest glaciers.
Harevollnipa's primary factor towards the higher Saueggi is 193m. The saddle is just north of Harevollnipa and the lowest contour is 1215m (Norgesglasset 5m contour map). The saddle height is interpolated to 1213m.
Saueggi's primary factor towards the higher Melsnipa is 100m (on this web-page). More formalistic, the primary factor is 98m, as the saddle north of Saueggi is defined by the 1400 contours. The saddle height is then interpolated to 1390m, which gives 98m. Since, Saueggi is a fine mountain indeed, I want it to make it on the "proper mountain list", and have defined the saddle to 1388m.
Melsnipa's primary factor towards the higher Jostefonni is 437m. There are two saddles where the lowest contours are 1120m, interpolated to 1110m. Saddle 1 is found east of lake Grøndalsvatnet while saddle 2 is between Fremstegretta and Jostefonni.
1443m N of Melsnipa's primary factor towards the higher Melsnipa is 213m. The saddle is found on the ridge between the two peaks and the lowest contours are 1240m. The saddle height is interpolated to 1230m.
Grøndalsnipa's 's primary factor towards the higher Jostefonni is 399m. The saddle is found between Fremstegretta and Jostefonni. The lowest contours are 1120m, and the saddle height is interpolated to 1110m.
Fremstegretta's primary factor towards the higher Midtgretta is 165m. The saddle is found on the ridge to Midtgretta. The lowest contours are 1160m and the saddle height is interpolated to 1150m.
Sundfjordbjørnen's (highest point on Jostefonni) primary factor towards the higher Jostedalsbreen is 325m. The saddle is found between Jostefonni and Bjørnalægskarven where the lowest contours are 1300m. The saddle height is interpolated to 1290m.
Gottopphesten's primary factor towards the higher Jostefonni is 182m. The saddle is just W of lake Skaddalsvatnet where the 1320m contours meet. The saddle height is interpolated to 1310m.
Note: Class ratings are in reference to YDS (Yosemite Decimal System).
Note: The trail described below is not necessarily the easiest trail to this mountain.
Meneseggi/Jostefonni traverse (spring, on skis)
First priority is to get to Dragsvik on the north side of Sognefjorden. From Bergen, you can follow highway E39 northbound, take the Oppedal-Lavik ferry and follow Sognefjorden through Høyanger and Balestrand. Alternatively, drive to Voss and then to Vinje, cross Vikafjellet (highway 13) and take the Vangsnes-Hella and Hella-Dragsvik ferries.
From Dragsvik, follow highway 13 northbound towards Gaularfjellet for approx 15Km. Turn right onto the road marked "Menes 5,4Km". and follow this road the same distance. The road turns sharp left now, and you have some houses up to your left. Find parking along the road. Make sure you don't block for any kind of traffic.
The route descibed below runs through avalanche terrain. Always be aware of this danger. Good, solid snow in late spring will decrease the risk of avalanches, but this is certainly no guarantee. It is highly recommended to bring shovels, avalanche probes and beacons.
I am not quite sure where the visible trail begins, but if you head up between the two first houses at Menes, stay left of the high forest, you will find a vague path that connects with the trail (coming from your right) higher up. Follow the trail upwards. The trail runs to Menesstølen. Leave the trail and seek for the high ridge before the power lines. Pass a small cairn at point 1082m and continue on the high ridge all the way to Harevollnipa summit. Easy terrain.
The high route to Saueggi is very advanced, and not well suited for skis. The winter route drops from the high route just below Harevollnipa at approx. 1290m elev. Follow the highest route down to lake 922 and then head northbound to the Saueggi southeast ridge (between Hardbakk and Storaskrednipa). Descending the ridge below Harevollnipa involves finding a way down the corniced saddle. The cornice may be of varying height, and some may find this point slightly airy. The cornice may also have holes. Take time to make good footsteps, find a good route and the descent will be trivial. You will also have to descend the ridge between Hardbakk and Storaskrednipa. This descent is most likely easier, and you may run down on skis here. Continue northwest and ascend the Saueggi ridge at the lowest point. You can ski up here.
From Saueggi, descend approx. 100m and continue northwest up to Melsnipa on the high ridge. Easy terrain. Melsnipa has the trig. point just north of the cairn that marks the viewpoint.
Point 1443m N of Melsnipa
Descend Melsnipa on the north side along a snow ridge. This is rough terrain, so make sure you find the way. The ridge looks airy from above, but the terrain is not very steep on the sides. In any case, be careful while descending, and stay on top of the ridge, gradually more to the left as you descend. Following is a long northeast descent to the saddle before you ascend the unnamed 1443m point.
Descend point 1443m via the northeast or the northwest ridge. The northwest ridge has a more gentle slope. Put up a campsite in the saddle, just east of lake Grøndalsvatnet. You can get water from the lake, or from a stream at the base of Grøndalsnipa. The saddle will not be as windy as on the summits. Decide if you want to trade views for comfort.
From the saddle between Grøndalsnipa and point 1443m, follow the high route to Grøndalsnipa summit. It is steep in the beginning, but you can ski up here. The summit consists of two tops, where the southernmost is the higher. Descend northbound. Once on the lower top, seek to the northwest side where a short, but very exposed ridge offers access to the lower plateau. You must turn to the right in order to get back onto the main ridge. This is most likely the crux of the entire route. In good snow conditions, the descent is fairly easy. Although it may be a bit awkward when you turn right. When the snow is hard, ice axe and crampons are necessary. A fall will send you 500m down the mountain. Once back on the main ridge, the ridge gets very narrow. In the beginning, the high ridge is no wider than your two feet. Again, in good snow, you can simply walk across. In hard snow, crampons and ice axe are required.
After this exciting descent, you may now enjoy a long enjoyable ski-run eastbound down to the Grøndalsnipa - Midtgretta saddle. The descent is 200m vertical meters. Continue northeast upwards to the saddle from Midtgretta and follow this ridge to Fremstegretta.
Descend Fremstegretta to the northwest. The descent involves a short pitch where you will think before you head down. Nothing compared to what you have done so far. Avoid the Jostefonni icefall and head northbound until you hit the glacier. Then set a west/northwest course towards the high glacier plateau. Once on the high plateau, continue southwest to the highest point on the glacier - Sundfjordbjørnen (1615m).
Continue southwest across the high point and head towards the ridge leading to Gottopphesten. On the ridge, you have the beautiful lake Skaddalsvatnet down to your left and lake Norddalsvatnet down to your right. Follow the ridge all the way to Gottopphesten. Although a bit steep, you can ski up the short final ridge to the summit.
From Gottopphesten, curve around the mountain and ski down below Gottopphesten's south face. Follow the 1300m contour until you hit a large snowfield/glacier. I assume the normal route for descent crosses this snowfield to the southwest and follow the Vardeggi ridge down to lake Nystølvatnet. Our route was a more or less direct and cumbersome descent to lake Gottoppsvotni, passing Vasshaugane and then directly down to the road. The skis had to come off a couple of times on this route, and a number of streams had to be crossed. Some with snowbridges of suspect quality, and some with no snowbridges at all. Our route is an option when getting down is the #1 priority (instead of passing the large snowfield leading to Vardeggi. To save you from a very long and boring walk back to Menes, it is in your very own interest that you have a second car parked here.
Meneseggi seen from the south
Getting there (and so on)
My friend Petter called me and informed me about a very interesting 2-day ski-trip, arranged by Bergen Turlag Fjellsportgruppen. I looked at the map and got a rush of concurrent impulses; "Madness", "Hey! A bunch of peaks", "lots of vertical meters", "Madness" (yes, again), "Too tough", etc. Still recovering from a virus that had a very bad impact on the muscular system, I wasn't sure if this was the ideal project to sign up for. Besides, a pretty serious mountain project was just days away. What if I got all sick again? Wise reflections were quickly put aside by the much stronger "I have to do this!" instinct.
Petter, his son Pål Jørgen (age 15) and I departed Bergen May 7th in the afternoon. Also on the way to the ferry at Oppedal was Per Ove (the trip leader), Jørgen and Ole Jacob. I didn't know Jørgen and Ole J. from before. On the way from Oslo (!) was Bjørn, who obviously had a "thing" about Sogn og Fjordane mountains. We took the ferry to Lavik and drove to Balestrand where we enjoyed pizza and beer/coke. Then we drove to Menes where we put up tents down by the fjord. Approvals had been taken care of by the trip leader. Bjørn arrived closer to midnight, after a long drive from Oslo.
We got up around 06:00AM, but weren't moving before 07:40AM. It was a hot day. We took it nice and easy up the long ridge to Meneseggi. The views got gradually more impressive, and the sensation of being part of a great adventure grew by the minute. At approx. 1000m elev., the skis could come on. The ridge was getting quite distinct now. And in the horizon we could see vague contours of the mountains we were heading for. The weather was good, but unclear. The forecasts had been confusing, and the weather shifted between cloudy and bright. As long as it didn't rain, this didn't matter a bit. The rise from sea level to 1400-1500m is of course strenuous, but with the fantastic nature all around, excitement always replaced fatigue.
We reached Harevollnipa 12:55PM and could finally gaze towards the great Melsnipa - the highest point on the Meneseggi ridge. Still, it was a long way to go. First, we had to descend from the Meneseggi high ridge in order to bypass some humps and bumps that would have been very hard to ski. On first sight, the cornice that separated the ridge from the valley below, didn't look too bad. Noone felt like skiing here, and Bjørn dug out a very nice stairway. The descent then became quite easy.
A long and hard ascent was now replaced by a most enjoyable 500 vertical meter descent on skis. Being overeager doesn't pay off. Being the first one down, I skied much too far down. A bit disappointed, I watched the others sticking to a high route below Harevollnipa. We continued down to lake 922 where we had a good rest and refill of water. The long and delightful 500 vertical meter descent was now replaced by a hard 560 vertical meter ascent to Saueggi. 16:30PM, we stood on the summit, and looked towards Melsnipa. Fortunately, Melsnipa looked closer than last time we looked at it. And now we would stick to the high route.
The route to Melsnipa was quite straightforward, and we reached the summit 17:10PM. We took a well deserved break by the look-out cairn and looked back on the Meneseggi ridge. The views were sensational. We could look straight down into the valley, 1500m below us. It was getting more and more cloudy, and we were discussing whether we should bivouac on a summit or in a saddle (we had not brought along the tents). As the wind got gradually stronger, we decided to put up camp by lake Grøndalsvatnet, where we also had access to water.
On the way down from Melsnipa, we had to follow a snowy ridge that provided a good route in steep and rough surroundings. The ridge looked a bit airy from above, and we were careful in the beginning. Pål Jørgen wasn't careful enough, and took a dive off the ridge, down to the valley to our right. Later, he insisted that if the terrain had been nastier, he wouldn't have fallen. This incident turned out fortunate for both Pål Jørgen and his skis. We continued towards an unnamed point (1443m) N of Melsnipa before we skied down to the campspot 50m above and east of lake Grødalsvatnet. 19:15PM, we parked the skis, after being on the move for 11,5 hours.
We had found a small piece of land, snow-free and started immediately on dinner. Almost everything tastes good under such circumstances, and we were truly the happy ones. My new Åsnes skis had been a delight to run on. But my new Scarpa boots had given me some blisters in places I never had blisters before. I blamed it on the moisture inside the boots, and hoped everything was OK in the morning. As we went to sleep in our moss and moor spots, it started to rain. The rain stopped within the hour, and the rest of the night was dedicated to sweet dreams about downhill slopes. In the morning, I made a mental note about buying a warmer sleeping bag.
Meneseggi seen from Grøndalsnipa
We woke up to a wonderful morning. We got up at 06:00AM and prepared breakfast. We were on our way by 07:00AM. Some hadn't quite finished breakfast, but weren't far behind. First thing on the agenda was a 400 vertical meter ascent to Grøndalsnipa. The first ones on the summit arrived 08:05AM, one hour after leaving the camp.
The descent was interesting. Too airy for skiing, and we decided to walk carefully down. We used various items for support. Some used skis and poles. I used the snow shovel. The walk itself was easy enough. It was more tricky to move from this ridge, heading into "thin air", and back to the main ridge. The snow was loose, and we tried to avoid falling. At the turn, falling would probably not have been a problem, but nevertheless...
Once back on the main ridge, a very narrow ridge was ahead of us. The skis would have to be carried to the far end of this ridge. Cornices made this ridge beautiful. The drop to the right didn't begin immediately, which took away the "extremely" part from "extremely airy".
Leaving the crux behind
Next on the to-do list was a hilariously fun downhill down to the saddle between Grøndalsnipa and Midtgretta. Jørgen screamed out in joy after the run down. He wasn't quite sure if he had been able to describe the sensation properly, so he screamed twice more. Just to be on the safe side. We continued to the Midtgretta-Fremstegretta ridge and refilled water below Fremstegretta. We were on top of Fremstegretta 11:00AM, and had only downhill left before we took on the Jostefonni glacier. Descending Fremstegretta was not quite straightforward, but after some looking around, we found a good place to ski down.
Entering the glacier meant changing the mental mode. The ski-trip so far had been fun every minute of the trip. My feet were now hurting tremendously, and I was getting hungry. I closed my eyes and just let the skis go. In the very beginning, we were walking side by side. But pretty soon, we were stacked in a row, rotating the point man making tracks. The glacier high plateau looked like a vertical wall far in the distant. My eyes were now almost permanently closed, and my mind wandered into sweet dreams of hot-dogs and Coke. Ahead of me was little PJ. Everyone was impressed with his performance. He looked like he was holding back most of the way. We began to wonder a bit when he was running intervals between the tents and the road Friday night. It was a great advantage that the group was quite uniform in terms of endurance. Noone was slowing the group down. It doesn't take much slowing down before you can add hours to the total elapsed time. On a few breaks, Bjørn came in last, looking a bit tired. While "collapsing" onto the ground, he moaned - "may I add a subjective comment? This trip is only getting BETTER and BETTER" with a smile all over his face. Can you ask for more spirit?
We took lunch on the glacier, 200 vertical meters below Sundfjordbjørnen. My lunch, obtained from a gas station, two days earlier did not match my dreams about hot-dogs. Bjørn noticed my sorry looking face and offered me slices of bread with sausage. Yum! Bjørn is a good man. We ended the last break of the trip and headed up to Sundfjordbjørnen. The time was now 14:25PM. Bjørn was hoping for a quick descent, as he had to drive all the way back to Oslo. On the way down, we stopped by Gottopphesten summit (15:30PM) and could watch the entire route along Meneseggi. The weather was still gorgeous, but dark clouds and thunder in the north suggested we should get moving.
We met three people on their way to Gottopphesten as we headed down. Nice to see people again. Instead of crossing the long plateau leading to Vardeggi, we tried to get away with a direct approach to lake Gottoppvatnet. We were now in avalanche terrain. Slick mountain with rotten snow on top. We passed several cracks down this hill. Skis had to come off just above the lake, and the terrain was cumbersome. We passed the lake, and took off the skis once more in order to cross the stream from the lake. On the way down the final valley, we crossed several streams over rotten snowbridges. But by 17:00PM, the trip was over. 21,5 hours on the move, 45Km on trail and skis and 3730 vertical meters was now history. Ole J. drove Petter, PJ, Bjørn and me back to Menes and then returned up the mountain for Per Ove and Jørgen. We all met at the ferry at Dragsvik, and while Bjørn drove from Hella, the rest of us headed back to Bergen via Vikafjellet and Voss. The trip was successful in all aspects; we had completed the mission, we all had a wonderful experience, we had good chemistry within the group, I learned a lot about various equipment that I had recently purchased and I learned that I was strong enough for this kind of endeavour. And at last, but not least - eight excellent peaks!
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 are presented in the order they were taken.
To Harevollnipa (Day 1)
To Saueggi and Melsnipa (Day 1)
To Point 1443m and campsite (Day 1)
Up and down Grøndalsnipa (Day 2)
To Fremstegretta, Jostefonni and Gottopphesten (Day 2)
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