A world-class view…
The hike from Kvistaddalen to Kjerringøyra and Utolhornet is a classic in the Sunnmørsalpane mountain range. Utolhornet has a reputation of offering outstanding views (ref. the above picture), and today the time had come for me to find out for myself.
11:04am, Karma and I left the trailhead (approx. 500m – toll road) in Kvitstaddalen. There were already many cars there, but I assumed that everyone was going to Skårasalen. While Skårasalen offers a better view towards the Sunnmørsalpane mountain range, you don’t see a lot of the beautiful Hjørundfjord.
A small herd of cows were blocking the tractor road. I tried to pass between them, but when one cow suddenly blocked our way, Karma got nervous, and then all the cows got nervous! I had to jump into the creek with Karma and fortunately, they didn’t bother us while we passed them.
I knew the route up to Fjellvatna lakes, from my hike to Tuva in 2014. The plateau with the two lakes is the watersched between Kvistaddalen and Kvamsetdalen valleys. I wondered if I would have to descend into Kvamsetdalen before I could begin the ascent to the saddle between Maratind and Kjerringøyra. But then I saw “Skår” painted in red on a rock, and knowing that Skår is down by the Hjørundfjord, this was the route I should follow.
Unfortunately, I lost sight of the vague path early on and wondered what to do. Should I descend into Kvamsetdalen or continue off-trail, maintaining my vertical gain. I chose the latter and had a really cumbersome hike until I got to the point where I could continue ascending.
At the Maratind – Kjerringøyra saddle, we entered boulder terrain. But the boulder was certainly to prefer, over to the steep grass we climbed up. I had an ice-axe on my backpack and would definitely be using it upon descent!
1:20pm, we arrived on top of Kjerringøyra. We had hiked 6,4km and the total vertical gain was approx. 1000m. I felt fine and Karma seemed to be in good shape too. Kjerringøyra was not a very exciting place and I decided to move on towards the main goal.
The descent from Kjerringøyra down to the saddle (approx. 985m) was quite steep and I thought to myself that this would be a tough uphill on our way back!
From the saddle, we had to ascend 130 vertical meters before topping out on Utolhornet. There were two tops and the northernmost seemed to be the highest. We had now hiked 7,7km with a vertical gain of 1150 meters.
The summit point was very exposed on one side and I maneuvered Karma carefully on top for the traditional summit picture.
In order to get the best fjord views, we had to go 95m north to the viewpoint cairn. The view (top picture) is best described with three letters; W O W! The view in the other directions wasn’t bad either…
In addition to the amazing views, Utolhornet also has some really cool cliffs which seemed quite out of reach. It would be tempting to go back up one day and explore them.
After a quick lunch, it was time to head back. I considered a descent into Kvamsetdalen via Nessethornet, but the map indicated that the terrain was rough. In the end, I decided to return along my ascent route.
The reascent of Kjerringøyra wasn’t as hard as I had thought it would be – especially after satisfying my thirst from running water in the saddle.
Back in the Maratind – Kjerringøyra saddle, I decided to follow the red T’s – marking the route between Fjellvatna and Skår. It’s been many years since this route was marked, and I had to concentrate hard to follow it. The route runs as high below the Maratind cliffs as it’s possible to walk, and I was able to follow it almost all the way back to the lakes.
At one point, near the lakes, I ended up in a slightly dangerous situation; I tried to get myself and the dog across a ledge, to avoid losing my vertical gain. We were almost across when I gave up. Turning the dog around was just a very uncomfortable moment and I was angry with myself for putting us into the situation.
The rest of the hike back to the trailhead went well and we arrived at the car 4:43pm – 5h:39m after leaving it. I think the average hiker should plan for 10-11 hours on this hike – incl. pauses. The total hike was 15,5km and 1500m of vertical gain.
Pictures from the hike: