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The weather this Saturday was absolutely stunning. I wasn't quite sure where to spend the day, but an aching knee made me go for something familiar. The plan was to ascend Gråeggi and head right back down. I chose to start from Bjørke - the place where I started out when I visited Storegrøeggi almost one year earlier.
In order to save time, I planned to stop by a bakery in Norheimsund and get breakfast and lunch for the trip. There was no bakery in Norheimsund. Not in Øystese either. Wise tongues in Norheimsund suggested I should go to Bergen. I had one chocolate bar in the backpack and figured I wouldn't need more for such a short hike. The temperature had indeed dropped, below zero during the night. A brake test indicated that I should drive carefully, and I reached Bjørke without any further scary moments.
As I headed out from Bjørke 10:45AM, I tried to inspire my dachsund "Troll" to walk. He normally loses inspiration after marking the territory, but today, he walked all the way up to Nyastølen. I put him in the backpack and headed up to the ridge where I had a clear view towards the mountains. The hillside up to Fagraseteggi looked trivial, and I just headed off-trail upwards. As I crossed Fagraseteggi's southwest ridge, a grand view opened up in front of me. Down to my left was the grassy Hestdalen valley, with beautiful autumn colors. Above the valley was Klyvenuten, Pyttafjellet and Gråeggi.
The terrain shifted dramatically as I headed up Fagraseteggi. I had moved away from a grassy hillside to an icy and slippery ridge (facing north). I noticed a distinct gully running up the centre of the mountain and found a path that took me all the way to the base of the gully. The hike up the gully was trivial when the best route was searched for, and I reached the summit 13:40PM.
The views were absolutely great, and I could gaze at familar mountains in all directions. The chocolate bar tasted excellent. Troll had walked on and off up the mountain and had earned lunch. It was quite early in the day, and my knee wasn't all that bad. I looked at Pyttafjellet and tried to figure out a route that would be "economical". I was however not certain that there was a way down from Gråeggi (other than the way I came), and finding out would be fun.
I headed down Gråeggi's west side, which was half-icy and half-dry. After a series of small ledges, things got harder. The mountainside facing Pyttafjellet was all icy. Then I noticed a small corridor to my right and went over to take a look. I was on top of a narrow gully that took me down to 1090m. The gully was all ice, but doable. I was practically down in the valley between Gråeggi and point 1092m, but not quite. A belt of hard snow put a stop to further progress. Actually, it was blue ice with a thin layer of snow. The naked rock was icy and I was forced to proceed westbound.
I had to get off this ridge, as I expected it to drop suddenly into Lake Svartaputten, and eventually, I found a way down to the valley down to my right. This valley led me down to the lake, and a sneaking feeling that I was "trapped" came along. It was easy to tell that there was no way up via the lake's south side, but what about the north? The north side was much more friendly, and a convenient traversing ledge took me up from the lake and directly onto Pyttafjellet. We reached the summit 14:55PM.
When I left Gråeggi, the plan was to descend directly from Pyttafjellet to Hestdalen valley. But now that I was here, I figured I could visit Klyvenuten as well. Klyvenuten was not on my list of independent Hordaland mountains, but there were two motivating factors. Firstly, I would be able to get Simlenuten in view. Simlenuten is one of the few Hordaland mountains that you "just can't walk up to" without serious planning. Secondly, the view down to Fyksesund was tempting.
The descent from Pyttafjellet wasn't problematic, but when I looked back up the ridge, I concluded that I had been lucky with my choice of route. You can easily run into nasty cliffs, leading you into route finding. On my way to Klyvenuten, I got Simlenuten in view, but wasn't able to see much of Kastedalen valley - the ascent route for Simlenuten. I reached Klyvenuten high point 15:50PM and headed immediately down to the viewpoint cairn. Glorious views.
The knee started to bother me again, and it was high time that I had to head back to the trailhead. With normal health and darkness coming much later I would probably have gone for Simlenuten. I had noticed a path in the direction of Kastedalen. And perhaps I would have found a route directly up from there. But Simlenuten wasn't about to happen this time, and I began my descent.
From Pyttafjellet, I had studied descent routes from Klyvenuten. The terrain looked very different from my position, and I decided to simply head directly towards Hestedalen and pass around any obstacles along the way. I found a good route down to Nødalen/Mødalen (whichever is correct) and noticed a very visible trail that obviously would take me down to Klyve. This trail was tempting, but would mean at least 5Km on aspalth road back to Bjørke. I decided to stick with the Hestdalen plan and continued eastbound.
Above Hestdalen, I ran into a jungle of small birch. I had no clear view of what was below me, but got unexpected help. I scared up a deer ("hjort" in Norwegian) which totally paniced. The sounds from the animal resembled thunder. It took a while before I saw the deer in the valley and it ascended at least 100 vertical meters on the other side before it slowed down. I had often wondered how far they run when they set off. Now I have an idea. If the deer could descend this hillside, then so could I. A very persistent branch of a birch got tangled up in my backpack and when it released, I saw my 75-300mm lens stored in the backpack's side pocket, "fly" down the forest. The sight of watching serious dollars fly away concerned me, but luckily, quality is quality, and the lens worked fine when I tested it.
Finally down in the valley, I had expected to find a trail, but there was none until I descended close to the Hestdalen waterfalls. A vague track helped me through the worst bush and when I reached the meadow below, I realised that I was on the wrong side of the river. There were no signs of a bridge, and time was now getting precious if was to get back to the trailhead before dark. I located a narrow bend in the river and spent 5 minutes building a rock bridge. The time was 17:30PM. It would start to get dark within the next hour, and I had still close to 6Km to go.
The hike up past the Syrdalstølen cabins was long, boggy, wet and boring. I was happy when I got back on the trail from Nyastølen and could release the dog. After a quick descent we were back at the car 19:00PM, just in time before dark. The chocolate bar effect had worn off a long time ago, and the hot dog in Øystese tasted heavenly.
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Gråeggi summit panoramas - wide angle
Gråeggi summit panoramas - 50mm
Gråeggi summit panoramas - zoom up to 300mm
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