Sandfloegga seen from Nupsfonn
Sandfloegga is the highest point on Hardangervidda, the highest mountain plateau in northern Europe. Sandfloegga is also the highest mountain in Odda Kommune, and is 59m higher than the Folgefonna glacier. The views are extensive, although it is difficult to identify details on the wide and flat Hardangervidda plateau. But there are some landmarks on clear days, such as Hardangerjøkulen glacier in north-east, Hårteigen in the north, Gaustatoppen in the south, and Folgefonna in the west.
Access to Sandfloegga is practical from the west (Trossovdalen), but more challenging from other directions. The north, east and south cliffs below Sandfloegga are steep, and it is required that you know the area if you plan to ascend Sandfloegga from these three directions. The summit terrain (from 1100m and upwards) is boulder, and is fairly easy to walk on, when dry. You will find spots of permanent snow on the mountain.
The Sandfloegga and Nupsfonn massifs define a large plateau where you never descend below 1400m. It stretches more than 10Km from Store Nup in the south, to lakes Langevotna in the north. And the massif stretches more than 12Km from Kvessenuten in the west, to point 1484 (and beyond) in the east. The massif consists of a number of unnamed points, each point characteristic in its own way. The peaks on this massif with a primary factor > 100m area; Sandfloegga (1721m), 1655m W of Kvessenuten, Nupsfonn (1691), Nupsegga (1673m) and Store Nup (1661m). In addition, several points have a near-100m primary factor, and these points could be referred to as prominent tops. This massif is anything but flat and boring.
Sandfloegga has a primary factor of 544m, towards the higher Hardangerjøkulen glacier (1833m), located 69Km further north-east. No other Hordaland mountains have a higher mountain further away. The saddle is defined to be lake 1177 near Dyratjørnane (near highway 7 across Hardangervidda). A more detailed analysis will follow later. Stay tuned.
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.
Valldalen - Sandfloegga (summer/autumn)
From Bergen, follow highway E16 towards Oslo. At Trengereid, exit right onto highway 7. At the Tysse junction after Bjørkheim (by Samnangerfjorden), you have the option to drive to Odda via the Gjermundshamn-Løfallstrand ferry, and then through the tunnel under Folgefonna. Alternatively, follow highway 7 over Kvamskogen, and then drive northbound along Hardangerfjorden from Norheimsund to Kvanndal. Take the Kvanndal-Utne ferry, and drive approx. 43,7Km from the ferry in Utne to the highway 13/E134 junction in Odda. Follow highway 13 towards Røldal for approx. 17,7Km, before you turn left onto highway 134 towards Røldal. Drive approx. 28,4Km (passing Røldal) and exit left towards Valldalen. Follow this road (which turns into a gravel road) for approx. 14,3Km until road end. The road should be blocked by a chain between two rocks. Find parking here. Note that sheep can be found on the road in Valldalen, so drive carefully. The road is narrow.
Follow the road past the chain gate, and upwards towards Middalsbu. Pay attention to your map where the trail to Trossovdalen begins. I failed to notice this spot, and when I realized I had passed it, I took a direct line upwards until I reached the trail. I also managed to lose the trail just before the road, so I cannot give a further description of the trail start. Just leave the road before the road descends towards Middalsbu, and walk up on grassy terrain until you hit the trail. Note that there are several trails on the right (south) side of the river in Trossovdalen. You should try to find the middle one (not too high, and not too low).
The main trail runs high above the river in the beginning, but gets closer to the river the higher you get in the valley. It is worth mentioning that a number of creeks and streams are coming down from the mountain, joining the river. Adults should not have any major problems crossing here, but with small children, it is more difficult as long as snow is melting from the mountains.
Above 1200m, the trail begins to vanish, and the terrain gets rockier. In July 2003, I found a snowbridge that took me across the river at approx. 1250m. Later in the season, I suspect I would have needed to follow the river quite a bit upwards, closer to the source. So, depending on where you cross, you will need to adjust your course accordingly. Once across the river, the hike towards the summit is fairly easy. The terrain is small boulder, and fairly easy to hike on, when dry. You will pass the 1682m hill, and drop down to approx. 1650m before you start on the final uphill towards the summit. The summit is marked by a solid, high cairn, and a trail register in a box.
I had only Sandfloegga and Varden on Varaldsøyna undone, of the top 30 mountains on my Hordaland primary factor list. This week-end was dedicated to conquer Sandfloegga and to get a good understanding of the southern Hardangervidda area. The weather forecast was better than one could hope for, and I was more geared up than tired when I left Bergen 04:00AM this Saturday morning. I got the 06:00AM ferry from Kvanndal to Utne, and there was no traffic on the road. Not a single queue on my way to Valldalen near Røldal. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to experience this, on a July summer's day in Norway.
The drive through Valldalen was nice. I noticed the low amounts of water in the lake, and was a moment concerned about the upcoming winter and the electricity bills. I woke up a number of sheep that laid flat on the road. Sheep are quite tired in the morning, I found out. But nothing wakes you up like the carn horn. I reached the road end near the north-east side of the lake, and was happy that I could drive this far. Troll seemed to be eager to get going, and by 08:15AM, we were on our way.
Nothing stops an eager dog. A myriad of small streams came down from the mountain. Some were too strong for him, but for the majority, he performed spectacular jumps, or just waded across. He didn't seem to be bothered. He was obviously tracking something, but I didn't know what. If I had put a GPS on him, the tracks would have been quite amazing. We passed some "high-altitude" sheep at 1100m, but he had no interest in the sheep. It was obviously something else. At 1250m, I put him in the backpack, as I had to cross the river over a suspect snow-bridge, open on each side of the passage. Just as I crossed, I noticed a herd of reindeer not too far away. The backpack became very much alive, and taking a picture with the living backpack was quite a challenge. This was a shy herd. When I moved an inch, they moved 50 meters. As I climbed up on point 1508, the herd was no longer in sight.
Troll remained in the backpack until the last hill before the summit. The rocky terrain wasn't a good match for the little fellow. Besides, the burning hot sun was uncomfortable for the both of us. Again, I faulted on the bare necessities on a hike of this scale. I had no sunscreen, and I ate and drank too little on the way upwards. One doesn't notice until too late, and some never learn. I had a bad headache when I reached the summit 12:10PM. But I was very happy to have reached the Hardangervidda high point, and this overshadowed the fatigue that was growing. I had a good meal on top, and laid down for a little while. Troll tried to shrink his own size, trying to get under a rock for some shade. I decided that we should get off this burning mountain, and headed downwards 12:50PM, after signing the summit register. Last visitor was up here July 1st, just a few days ago.
Before I started on the hike, I had some ambitions to get a second peak. That would be Trossovnuten or point 1655m near Kvessenuten. That ambition was already abandonded, but on the way down Trossovdalen, I throught I had found a good shortcut up to both these mountains. That was a comfort, as I didn't look forward to hike the length of this valley one more time. As I got closer to the road, the trail vanished in front of me, and I decided to make a shortcut through the forest, towards the trailhead. We reached the car 15:30PM. Within the hour, we arrived Haukeliseter, where a cabin was waiting for us. A little rest in a shady spot made a big difference, and I sincerly enjoyed the three-meal course for dinner later in the evening. As the headache was gone, I could also enjoy a beer or two over a nice conversation with another hiker in the lounge. I watched the sun go down on Kistenuten, and looked forward to a nice hike to Nupsfonn the following day.
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