Nigardsbreen glacier, July 30 2016

Big fun on the glacier

Places visited:

Place Distance Municipality Location
Nigarsbreen glacier 6,9km (total) Luster GPX
A wonderful day on Nigardsbreen

Anne and I had invited our friends Lena and Terje down to Sogndal this weekend. The invitation also included a trip to the Nigardsbreen glacier. Neither Terje nor Lena had been on a real glacier hike before and I hadn’t been on Nigardsbreen either (only in the cave under the glacier).

Under Nigardsbreen, Feb 2010

On Saturday morning, I drove to Ane and Jostein who said they would look after Karma that day. This is where Karma was born and is of course her second home. Her sister Turte and mother Ella welcomed her wholeheartedly.

After breakfast, we drove up to the Nigardsbreen parking and joined the queue for the shuttle boat. We didn’t make it on the first trip and not the second either (the commercial guided groups have priority), but finally it was our turn!

On our way to Nigardsbreen

The boat took us only 0,8km and now we had 1km to walk to the glacier front – a river crossing included.

The glacier front

At the glacier front, there were lots of tourists ready to be guided up the glacier. There are guides stationed here all day (in the prime season), with the sole purpose of putting crampons on the tourists and getting them ready for a guided tour on the glacier.

A wonderful day on Nigardsbreen

In addition to showing Lena and Terje the glacier, we also wanted to practice as much as possible. It’s been a while since I was on a glacier (Svalbard, 2013) and we decided to go up the glacier as a roped team. I was really “rusty” and couldn’t figure out how to carry the end part of the rope in a correct way. But after all, that was what the practice was all about.

The fun begins!

The guides had chopped steps up the glacier, which made the ascent a bit too easy. However, the “tourist trail” lead us into a beautiful crevasse which was just gorgeous.

Very cool!

Then we came to a place which was ideal for practicing ice-climbing (of the easy sort). I had only been climbing on blue ice once before (Odinsbreen), but never used ice screws. Anne and I went up to the top of the ice-wall and put in three ice screws. Then Anne tested the anchors and the rope by being lowered down the pitch.

I chose to go first. An inflammation in my arm made progress a bit slow, as I had to do small movements. It was big fun, but I have the utmost respect of this sport, and I don’t think I will be practicing anything more advanced than this. You really have to know what you’re doing, and you really have to understand ice!

Hilarious fun!

I was belayed by both Lena and Terje – as the rope was heavy to pull – because of the way we set the three carabiners. Once on top, they lowered me down and Terje, Anne and Lena followed after. A guided party was passing and got extra entertainment.

As indicated, I don’t know ice, and Anne insisted that I should check the screws after each climb. I didn’t see the point at first, but upon closer inspection I noticed that there had been a significant melt around the ice-screw. Not so much that I thought that the anchor wouldn’t hold, but enough to made me move the anchors after each climb.

Anne, assisting a guided party coming up the tunnel

After we had been up and down the wall, we moved higher up the glacier. After a while, we turned around and followed a different route down – which forced us to cross a number of small crevasses. This gave us the opportunity to practice running belay with ice screws. It was a bit more cumbersome than running belays on rock, but after a while, we got the hang of it.

Practicing running belay on easy terrain

Then we came across a small tunnel where we could go down in one place and come up another place. There’s just so much fun to discover on a glacier!

A loop “down under”

We gradually moved in the direction of our ascent route and took whatever fun we could find along the way…

One has to be really grumpy not to enjoy a sunny day on the glacier!

We went back to the place we had climbed earler and went through the amazing crevasse one more time, before we followed the route that the guides had prepared – down to the glacier front.

Back in the crevasse

On our way back to the trailhead, we realized that we could be in for a long wait for the boat, being the last group off the glacier. And sure enough, down by the pier – a bunch of people were waiting for the boat. So we decided to walk the 0,9km back to the trailhead.

Leaving the glacier

We returned to the car more than 6 hours after leaving it. What a fantastic day! The first celebration was a round of ice-cream at Breheimsenteret. The second took place in the afternoon, when Anne served a delicious dinner.

Thanks for a fantastic day!

Pictures from the trip: 

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