Nordbotnnuten in front of Olsskavlen,
Nordbotnnuten is the easternmost peak of the 5 peaks that goes under the name "Raundalsegga". This ridge comprise Horndalsnuten (1461m), Skipadalsnuten (1496m), Seldalsnuten (1548m), Olsskavlen (1576m) and Nordbotnnuten (1471m). A high pass - Fallet (1000m) connects this ridge to Skorafjellet (1583m) and subsequently Vassfjøra (1633m). This chain of mountains is a dominating landmark in the Voss/Granvin/Ulvik region, located south of Raundalen and north of Espelandsdalen valleys.
The Nordbotnnuten summit denotes a triple Kommune boundary (Voss, Granvin, Ulvik), but is not among the highest summits in any of the Kommuner. Given a minimum primary factor of 100m, Nordbotnnuten is among the 120 highest mountains in Hordaland. However, the mountain is fairly high in relation to the region. For instance, the mountain is higher than the more well-known Horndalsnuten, further west on the long ridge.
Nordbotnnuten connects to Olsskavlen in the west and Skorafjellet in the east. The Raundalsegga ridge traverse is a classic skiing project, but requires high skills in cross-country skiing and a good psyche. Whether you are skiing or hiking, this is serious and rough terrain. Routefinding is key. Once a good route is found, the technical difficulties are low. Experienced hikers/skiers will enjoy this terrain.
As reward for a steep and strenuous hike, the views will take your breath away. Olsskavlen will unfortunately block the west view, but you have all the worth-while mountains in clear view; Hårteigen, Hardangerjøkulen, Vassfjøra, Skorafjell, Midtfjell, Oksen, Storeflåtten, Høgahorgi, Karaldenuten, Kvasshovden, and many, many more.
Hestastodnuten is a truly insignificant named point which you must cross when hiking Nordbotnnuten from the south. Brattenuten is a low ridge that connects with Nordbotnnuten in the south. Another named point - Fessanuten (1442m) is found north-east of Nordbotnnuten. None of these named points are considered separate mountains on this web page, having a primary factor of less than 100m.
The route description provided on this web page is the fastest and safest route to Nordbotnnuten. The difficulty does not exceed class 2, which means "anybody" who is fit and strong can reach this summit. Be aware of the potential sudden change in weather in this region. Bring a map and a compass, and pay good attention to details in the terrain. This is a very complex and messy terrain, and going down is a whole different experience than coming up.
Nordbotnnuten has a primary factor of 221m towards the higher Olsskavlen. The saddle is found NW of Nordbotnnuten, and the last adjacent 20m contour lines are 1260m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 1250m.
Hestastodnuten has a primary factor of 31m towards the higher Nordbotnnuten. The saddle is found just north of Hestastodnuten, and the last adjacent 20m contour lines are 1380m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 1370m.
Brattanuten has a primary factor of 59m towards the higher Hestastodnuten. The saddle is found north of Brattenuten, and the last adjacent 5m contour lines are 1160m. The saddle height has been interpolated to 1150m.
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.
Lake Espelandsvatnet - Nordbotnnuten (w/Brattenuten detour) (summer/autumn)
From Bergen, follow highway E16 towards Oslo. From the central traffic light in Voss, drive straight ahead (towards Gjernes, not Oslo). Drive approx. 1.8Km and turn right onto highway 13 (towards Granvin/Bruravik). Follow this road for approx. 20,3Km and exit left towards "Espeland". Follow this road for approx. 8,4Km and notice an old red shed on your left. 100m further ahead, notice a parking inside the forest below the Espelandsfossen waterfall. Chances are that cabin owners have gone to measures to keep you out. Drive along the road until you find a turnout that have not been blocked.
Alternatively, you can drive along from Bergen to Hardangerfjorden, then to Granvin and to Ulvik through Vallaviktunellen. From the Osa/Espeland junction un Ulvik, turn left and follow this road for approx. 10,6Km until you reach the parking described above.
To the summit
Facing the parking within the forest (with the waterfall beyond), seek to the right and locate a trail that takes you to a cabin. A couple of red signs guide you away from the cabin and towards Botnen. The forest climb up to Botnen consists of an infinite number of switchbacks on a narrow trail. The trail is visible and you have random views towards the Espelandsfossen waterfall on your left.
Above 500m, the trail starts to level out, and soon you have the three buildings at "Botnen" in front of you. Go left past the lowermost cabin, and head towards the uppermost cabin. Continue on the trail which is now more vague. Presumeably, people go to Botnen, but not further. After hiking up to a higher plateau, you have a large valley in front of you. The path climbs up to the right and stays high in the hillside.
Once done with the hillside, turn right next to a large rock lying close to the path. The trail now continues over ledges, high above the river down to your left. When you have the waterfall (slightly visible to the left in the valley) from Trollavatnet in view (at approx. 800m), locate large rocks up to your right with distinct white moss. Head between these rocks and stay on an obvious, wide grassy ledge that takes you up to 1040m, in a narrow pass. Below you is Trollabotnen and further to the north, lake Trollavatnet. You will also notice a couloir filled with boulder that run directly up to the saddle between Nordbotnnuten and Hestastodnuten. This is most likely a very doable and interesting route, but is not part of this route description.
From the pass at 1040m (between two cliffs), turn right and climb a ridge SE to 1190m. You can maintain a straight route upwards. You will arrive a ledge with some astonishing views towards Hardangerfjorden. Above you is point 1234m, and although there are some class 3 routes up the cliffs, continue eastbound 400m, turn north-west for a short distance and enter a boulder couloir that takes you NE up to the Hestastodnuten plateau. This route is completely safe, but if you are a group, make sure you don't kick rocks downwards.
The rest of the route is trivial. Continue across the broken cliff terrain across Hestastodnuten, go down to the saddle between Hestastodnuten and Nordbotnnuten and determine a route up through the broken cliff terrain. Once up, the summit is just minutes away.
The descent via Brattenuten
Return the same way, but once you have crossed Hestastodnuten, seek left (east) and locate a cairn that marks an alternative route. Climb down a short boulder gully and climb 70m down on steep grass (which could be slippery and nasty when wet). Set direction towards Brattanuten and find a route down the cliffs that separate you from the Brattenuten saddle (there are several options). Enjoy Brattanuten summit (1209m) and the great views before heading back the same way to the saddle. From the saddle, traverse NW back to the point below 1234m, where you came up. Descend your ascent route.
The original plan for this Sunday was to travel to Utne and take a look at Grimsnuten and the adjacent mountains. I called my hiking pal Torbjørn Frøystein and asked if he was interested. He had his eyes on Nordbotnnuten, and immediately fancied the concept. Since late July, we had traversed both Skorafjell and Vassfjøra. Why not go for the next mountain in line on the long Raundalsegga/Ulvik ridge.
We met below Espelandsfossen waterfall and started hiking about 08:45AM. The weather was better than I could hope for, and with two higher mountains on each side attracting potential fog, I had high hopes for clear views from the top. Torbjørn had been up to Trollabotnen before, but never gone higher on the mountain. The map indicated that a good route to the top was possible, but there we had no guarantee. Some contour lines were quite dense. Perhaps too dense, but routefinding in complex terrain is great fun.
Thanks to Torbjørn's earlier hikes in the area, we avoided searching for a way to Trollabotnen via the valley route. The basin drops sudden down to the valley, but one can easily get to Trollabotnen on a wide, grassy ledge up to the right. Once above Trollabotnen, my eyes were focused on a very long couloir that seemed to lead straight to "heaven". And it looked very doable. But we agreed to stick with the plan, and we followed a safe and easy route up to a plateau below point 1234m, which we reached 10:40AM. Here we saw the cliffs (the dense contour lines) that we had wondered about. We passed the cliffs and found a perfect route up to the plateau above. From this plateau, we could identify several good routes up the 140m high mountain side in front of us. We chose to hike straight up a boulder couloir, class 2. And soon we were on the Hestastodnuten plateau. We noticed a cairn on the east side of the plateau, and talked briefly about going down that way. It was fair to assume the cairn was meant to indicate a route down.
Hestastodnuten summit was passed 11:23AM and in front of us was Nordbotnnuten. After a short descent to a surviving snowfield we scrambled directly up to Nordbotnnuten summit, which we reached 11:48AM. Some fog was drifting over Skorafjell and Vassfjøra, but as I had hoped - Nordbotnnuten was fog-free. We moved over to a viewpoint just north of the summit and cound enjoy the great scenery and familiar mountains towards the north. We then moved on to the west side of the summit to get some impression of the Nordbotnnuten-Olsskavlen saddle. There was a ridge that provided seemingly easy descent nearly all the way down to the saddle, but on the map, this ridge ends in a sixty-some meter cliff. As some actually traverse this saddle, there is surely a way. And I suspect going down south of the cliffs is the clue.
It was cold on the summit. I had been carrying extra clothes on all hot hikes during the summer, but left them back home for this hike. Me and my chess moves... Things ... fell down from the sky in an unorderly fashion. After a good while, we concluded that these "things" were hail. Not exactly a winter hike. We decided to return and try the other route. The rugged cliff terrain on Hestastodnuten was going in the east-west direction. We were heading southbound, and scrambled up and down, up and down. We saw corridors of perfectly aligned rocks, most likely the result of a lifetime below permanent snow. The heat this summer has challenged many permanent snowfields, and they're not permanent anymore. If a car had been available, we could have driven around up there.
The cairn that was visible during our ascent was not seen when we headed southbound across the plateau. We found it odd that a cairn, whose probable purpose was to give a clue of a descent route, was not seen until we reached it. But once there, we found a good route down. We decided to include Brattenuten on the hike. If nothing else, Brattenuten would provide good views towards the routes we had followed. The traverse across the 600m ridge to the summit included further repetitions of ups and downs. We reached Brattenuten summit at 13:25PM and got further excellent views. We turned around immediately and returned to our original route. It would have been fun exploring the couloir that ran from Trollabotnen to the saddle below Nordbotnnuten and Hestastodnuten, but decided to leave it for a future hike. We reached the trailhead 15:21PM, and concluded it had been yet another great day in the Ulvik mountains.
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