Kúvingafjall, May 18 2017

Faroe Islands, day 1 (cont.)

Peaks visited:

Peak Height PF Location GPX
Kúvingafjall 830m 830m Kunoy, Faroe Islands GPX
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Kúvingafjall

It was our first full day on the Faroe Islands. Anne and I had visited Slættaratindur (the highest peak) earlier in the day, and now we had arrived at Klaksvik and checked into the local hotel. Anne decided to be a normal tourist for the rest of the day, while I wanted to explore another peak.

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Klaksvik

But first, we wanted to visit Rúsdrekkasøla Landsins – the place where you can buy alcohol. I was happy to see that one of the wine producers have taken women’s vanity seriously…

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Anne will drink this wine so that the bag gets lighter. Then she will carry it around 😉

As we had done the highest peak on Eysturoy, I wanted to another island high point. The most accessible one was Kúvingafjall (830m) on Kunoy.

Kunoy is a short drive from Klaksvik. You cross the fjord on a curvy molo road before getting to a long, straight-lined tunnel that takes you to the west side of the island, and the village Kunoy. The tunnel is pitch dark and has only one lane, with pockets every 100 meter or so.

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Kunoy – the island in center

On my way to Kunoy, I got a glimpse of Kúvingafjall. The mountain was partially hidden in the fog. The parts I could see looked difficult. I thought to myself that route finding would be a long and tedious job and I wanted to be back in town before dinner.

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Kúvingafjall – looking a bit scary

Fortunately, I met a local who explained to me that I should attempt neither the south ridge, nor the Skarðdalur valley. Instead, I should head up Litlidalur, and find my route from there. He seemed to be a reliable source of information, so I decided to try my luck in Litlidalur. He also told me to be very careful with respect to the fog. The fog could come instantly. I looked up on the mountain, which was already covered in fog, and was wondering if he was talking about “the mother of all fog”, or something like that. In any case, I promised both him and myself to be careful.

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Litlidalur valley – in center

I parked my car, headed up the Nidan Vidarlund road, and then a gravel road up to Plantasjen. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s a forest. I entered a gate, followed a path through the forest, and exited the forest through a gate. Now I was at the entrance to the valley. At this point, it didn’t occur to me that I had been into a forest, albeit small. Forests on the Faroe Islands are a … rare thing.

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Through a small forest – a rare experience on the Faroe islands

On my way up the valley, it was soon evident where I ought to ascend to get to the plateau above. In case this valley would flood with fog, I began my “safe route home” project.

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In Litlidalur. My route went up to the left of center

This project was simply aiming for a point, follow a straight line there, make a GPS waypoint, and leave one or two rocks that I would recognize on my way back. The GPS has a nasty bug and sometimes the GPS track disappears from the screen. As such, I have to rely on waypoints. The waypoints alone would be sufficient for safety. The rocks I just left to get the “OK, I was definitely here” feeling.

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In Litlidalur. Looking up Urðafjall

Once on the ridge between the two valleys, I could not see Kúvingafjall at all. But, after waiting for a couple of minutes, I got the peak in view and the route to the summit was clear; traverse the wide ledge below Middagsfjall, head up a collapsed section of the cliff band (between Kúvingafjall and Middagsfjall), then traverse left below Kúvingafjall to the first couloir and find my way up from there.  Ref. the picture on top of this page.

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My route

Along the wide ledge, I met two hares, which were 50% curious and 50% in panic. I could not picture hares swimming from Scotland, Iceland or Norway and so they must have been brought to the Faroe Islands deliberately, or as blind passengers on a boat. Both alternatives gave me something to ponder on, on my way to the collapsed section of the cliff band.

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One of the hares

I was now heading into the fog, but it helped enormously to have seen the route from a distance. I found the ledge I planned to follow until I reached the couloir. Just before this couloir, I noticed a doable route up the cliff band. After a short scramble, I headed into the couloir, which no longer looked like a couloir. But it was still distinct enough to distinguish it from the rest of the face.

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Towards the couloir – left

Getting up to the vast summit plateau (I call it a Mesa) involved a little more scrambling, but not of the difficult kind. I suppose I could have followed the cliff band until an easier route had presented itself.

There was some fog on top, so it was difficult to say where the high point was. I didn’t have the summit co-ordinates, so I would just have to walk around and look at the GPS elevation. I met yet another hare on the summit plateau, and it looked quite cool – disappearing into the fog.

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Hare – moving into the fog

After a 15-minute round trip hike, I was confident that the high point was on the north side of the summit plateau. The top of a 2-meter high rock measured to 823m on my GPS. 7 meters below the map height, but I found no higher points. I had passed a cairn further south, but it measured lower than this rock. Confident about having being to the top of Kúvingafjall, I began my descent.

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The high point in the background

Everything looked different on the way down, but I knew the route so well by now that I could descend without using the GPS. I thought about visiting Middagsfjall too, but found it would be in conflict with the dinner plans. I met the hares again on the wide ledge, still curious and in panic.

I returned to the car 5:34pm, 2h:45m after leaving it. I didn’t look forward to the tunnel, as I’m terrible at judging oncoming traffic in dark tunnels. I always feel silly when slipping into a pocket, way, way, too early.

Back at the hotel, I hit the shower and Anne and I went out for dinner. There are not many places to dine in Klaksvik, and it seems the smartest thing is to book in advance. That is especially true when it comes to Tórshavn. Fortunately, we got a table at the local steak house and the food was nice. The time it took to order and be served was on a level that we’re not used to, and I don’t mean that in a good way. The service was poor. How much does it take to send a discrete signal, implying that “yes, we see you – be around shortly”?

However, the food was nice, the wine was nice and the day had been particularly nice. Nothing to complain about, and this was just day one!

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Summit view from Kúvingafjall

Pictures from the day:

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