Bukkehøi seen from Illåbandet
Bukkehøi is the 17th highest mountain in Norway, if one counts mountains with a primary factor > 100m. The mountain rises gradually from Leirdalen in east, and ends with a steep fall towards the east. As the general rule, glaciers must be crossed in order to hike this mountain.
The two normal routes both begin at Geitsætri in Leirdalen. One route (winter only) traverses the N. Illåbreen glacier and climbs Bukkehøi from the east, while the other crosses Sauhøi and Illåskardet and climbs Bukkehøi over its western glacier. The former will be described here.
Described below is an alternative mid/late May route from Geitsætri in Leirdalen. Please note that snow conditions in this period may change from year to year.
Geitsætri - Bukkehøi via Illåbreen/Tverråbreen glaciers (mid/late May on skis)
Locate highway 55 over Sognefjell (Sogndal - Lom). Exit towards Leirvassbu (signed) and pay toll fee shortly after the exit (currently NOK 50,- for passenger cars). From the highway 55 exit, follow the road approx. 5,7Km and find parking alongside the road. From here, you should have the Geitsætri cabin (not a public hut) just behind you. Up to your left, you should see a valley (which is also the first valley on your left since you left the highway).
Follow a fence up towards the valley. In this season, there may be no snow at this elevation, and you should be able to see a trail leading into the valley. Stay on the right hand side on the yt. Illåi; river, and climb the foothills of Sauhøi (1770m). This is where you might reach the snow. Leave the Sauhøi ridge, and head down to the S. Illåi river and try to find a safe passage over to the other side (Skardbakken). This river may be extremely hard to cross if the snow bridges are gone, and fatal injuries have occured along this river. Use ice axe/crampons down towards the river if the snow is frozen.
Continue up the strenuous Skardbakken hill with Svarttinden in view up on your right. Eventually the steepness falls off, and you move from the ridge you're on, down towards the valley. Use axe/crampons here if the snow is frozen. You don't want to slide down into the N. Illåi river coming down the valley.
Once you're in the valley, at approx. 1450m, the steepness up to the N. Illåbreen glacier, and the foothills of "Illåbandet" (a glacier divide at approx. 1800m) is moderate, compared to the trip so far. As you move up the left-hand side of the glacier, you have the mighty Skardstind (2373m) and the characteristic Nåla (needle) up to your left. (Small streams of water come down from Nåla in melting season, in case you're low on water).
Cross the N. Illåbre glacier in the south-east direction, while staying in the middle on the glacier. Once well onto the glacier, the direction turns south, heading towards øv. Tverråbandet glacier divide, between Lindbergtinden and Bukkehøi. The climb up to the glacier divide is steep, but can easily be skied. Be on the look-out for crevasses on the divide.
Once onto Tverråbreen glacier, maintain the southern direction and continue almost all the way to the Vakkerbandet divide. Just before you reach Vakkerbandet, which marks the beginning of the Bukkeholstindan mountains, look up to the right for a spot where the snow climbs high towards the Bukkehøi ridge. You can ski almost all the way up. The 2-3m climb up to the plateau will vary based on snow conditions, but be very careful about crevasses/holes all the way up to the ridge plateau. The move up typical consist of using the axe to make a hole for one arm, while you get a solid grip with the axe on the ridge with the other. Then drag yourself up. If there is little snow, enough rock may surface to provide the necessary steps. Once onto the plateau, the hike up to the summit is straightforward.
Trip report May 19 2002:
Story continued from Storgjuvtinden, 2344m hike.
Once down from Storgjuvtinden, we decided to move our camp from Illåbandet down to N. Illåbreen glacier. Once the new camp was in place, it was time for an afternoon trip, and the choice fell on Bukkehøi.
The crossing of N. Illåbreen glacier had modest elevation gain, but it got steeper when climbing up to øv. Tverråbandet. Some caution was called for, as there was crevasses under the snow. When we got onto the Tverråbreen glacier, we saw people for the first time (those small ants on the Galdhøpiggen summit, excluded). Some groups were busy with peak collecting. Probably going for all 300 2000m points, as they visited all of the unnamed Bukkeholstinder.
Petter had the notion that we could go all the way to Vakkerbandet and climb the Bukkehøi ridge from the south. This turned out not be an option, and we backtracked slightly northbound. We found a snowfield that climbed almost all the way up to the ridge, and we had no difficulties climbing up the 2-3 meters. A crevasse/hole was just next to where we climbed up, so we made a mental note of looking down carefully before we descended the same way.
The hike up to the summit was easy, and we could enjoy the marvellous views from this summit.
Next stop: Store Tverråtind, 2309m
Pictures from the May 19 2002 hike:
See pictures from the whole trip