Summer vacation 2016 continued…
The day had finally come. Higravtinden. 1146m. The highest peak in Lofoten. What would this day and this peak have in store for me?
Anne, Anne-May and Jan decided to go fishing. I would hike Higravtinden solo. After breakfast, Jan drove me from Kabelvåg to Eide, where I would start the hike from. The peak was hidden in clouds, but I had strong hopes for the fog to lift during the day.
I had been looking for information about this peak, but didn’t find too much info that I could relate directly to. Except for a trip report by Sondre Kvambekk. I read his report on peakbook.org with great interest. I know he’s a good climber, and when it came to the ascent of the summit, he stated that the scrambling got harder. What that would mean for me, was only for me to find out.
After Jan dropped me off at Eide, I went over to the nearest house and talked to a man who said he had been up there several times. His version of the route didn’t sound too difficult. The only advice he gave was not to fall off the mountain. He recommended that I stayed to the right of the waterfall. I would find paths, he said.
I didn’t find any paths and got a strenuous start to the hike. When I approached the cliffs at approx. 300m, I chose to go around them on the right-hand side. Once above the cliffs, I had to go all the way back to the waterfall (0,2km) to refill my water bottle.
I continued upwards and reached the snow at 680m. I put my crampons on. Not that they were needed in the soft snow, but the ascent would get easier. A better grip. And I could run into harder snow (or even ice) higher up. I couldn’t tell how steep the upper part of the main couloir was, but it would surely not be steeper than what I’m accustomed to. In fact, it never got steep at all. I never measured the angle, but I would be surprised if it ever was as much as 40 degrees. Probably more in the range of 30-35 in average in the upper part.
I had also read that experienced hikers have had problems on the slabs in this couloir when it was free of snow. Today, it was as easy as it possibly could get. When I topped out on the ridge at approx. 1040m, I hadn’t had any difficulties at all and there was only 100 vertical meters to go.
Ahead of me was a steep wall, but I knew that the route turned northeast (right) in order to bypass this wall. I had to cross one more snowfield but soon I was standing in front of the real ascent route.
I followed the path upwards and was led towards a gully with slab rock. While the gully wasn’t exposed or difficult, there were no handholds in the middle of it. Until I found the perfect handhold in the wall to my left. And a couple of minutes later, I was on the summit ridge.
I could now see both the high point cairn and the ridge cairn where many turn around. I could see the gap between them – the “gap of Jordan“. How that gap earned its name, I don’t know…
I went over to the closest cairn. I was now 17 meters away from the highest point on the Lofoten islands, but the gap was unnegotiable. Fortunately, I knew that the route to the main peak went down to the right.
The route down crossed rotten snow and I had to be extremely careful to avoid falling through. Most likely I would have gotten myself back up again, but it looked scary down there.
Next, I had to round an exposed corner, which is the place the man I talked to warned me about. I didn’t find this point anywhere as exposed as I had pictured it to be…
Around the corner was a “stairway” to the summit. Well, these are not my words, but I found this description in the book “Lofoten rock” later on. For a seasoned climber, this was surely a stairway. For the rest of us, this looked challenging. Interesting and challenging…
The first obstacle was a rock blocking the crack. A sling hung here. Upon closer inspection of the rock, I understood why the sling was left here. I did however manage to get up without it. Next, more steps in the “stairway” followed, all of the easier kind. And now I found myself directly below the summit. I could go right, or I could go straight ahead. Both alternatives seemed to involve climbing.
I decided to try my luck straight ahead first, and what seemed to be a very hard route at first glance turned out to be a smooth climb to the top. The top of the rock was not the summit rock, but it was easy to get across the small gap. Normally at this point, I would be too concerned about the descent to allow myself to fully celebrate. But not this time. I was quite comfortable about going back down this way. Perhaps I’ve emerged into a seasoned scrambler? I can only hope that this is the case.
But I knew one thing; I had never scrambled “harder” on any peak in the Sunnmøre alps – where it’s possible to go without a rope. That said, I haven’t been to them all. Yet…
I stood on the summit and looked at peaks in all directions. I was really lost for words. OK, we have the Lyngen and the Sunnmøre alps and they’re both amazing mountain ranges. But to me, this was just … a different planet. OK, I KNOW that I’m not objective here, and I’m not really sure why. But what of it. Lofoten rules!
I scrambled my way down the “stairway” and when I came to the rock with the sling, I used it. Yes, I admit it. If it hadn’t been there, I would still be able to climb safely down. So I didn’t feel bad about it at all.
Back in the main couloir, I put the crampons back on and descended approx. 100 vertical meters before I took them off and had a very, very, very enjoyable slide on my feet down to 630m.
When I reached the waterfall, I decided to descend on the north side (left, when seen from below). I saw a path and assumed I would be able to follow it all the way down.
At approx. 300m elevation, the phone rang. Anne told me that she, Anne-May and Jan would be taking the 4pm ferry to Skrova island. She didn’t expect me to reach that ferry, but perhaps I could take the 9:30pm ferry? Not likely that late, I thought to myself.
In any case, she left the car at the trailhead and drove back to Svolvær on the back of Jan’s motorcycle. I watched them leave – 300 meters below me – and without knowing what the time was, I decided to … seriously shift gears…
It took me 13 minutes to descend from 300m and into the front seat of the car at 15m. In the heat of the moment, my GPS didn’t make it into the car and had to spend the night at the trailhead. It was recovered the next day, but the SIM car passed away during the night. The glass and the “back door” was already broken, so I didn’t feel very bad about. At last, a good reason to buy a new GPS…
I will not tell you what time it was when I got into the car, because I might have been slightly above the speed limit. But I reached the Svolvær harbor at 3:57pm and the others just didn’t believe their eyes. And it was well worth the effort, because Skrova was a great island to visit. But more on that in a separate blog post.
On the ferry, I had time to reflect on my hike. In summary, this was quite an easy trip for me, but a) the snow in the main couloir made the ascent a piece of cake and b) while the scrambling / light climbing up to the summit was just within my comfort zone, I surely understand why some would claim that a rope is needed on this mountain.
All in all, it was a GREAT day, and I will remember this trip for the rest of my life.
Trip statistics: 6km, 1200 vertical meters, 3h:50m
Pictures from the trip: