In memory of Arngeir Syversen
I launched my website hordafjell.com in 1998. The plan was to hike and document all mountains in Hordaland county. This plan was put aside when I moved to Ålesund in 2005. And then it seemed proper to rename the site to westcoastpeaks.com.
I became a colleague of Arngeir Syversen – a very avid hiker. He liked my website and told me that it would be fun to have a website too. But he wasn’t sure how to go about it and what to write. I told that I could help with the setup and that for starters, he could document the mountains in his municipality – Haram. So why not call the site haramfjell.com?
It didn’t take long before the site was up and running and one peak after the other got documented. Thoroughly! On his hiking log, we could even read what kind of shoes he wore on his hikes.
Over the years, we stayed in touch and did hikes together every now and then. We both had a great interest in peaks that wasn’t in the “walk in the park” category, and Arngeir soon demonstrated a good tolerance for heights and ability to handle himself in exposed terrain. It was never mentioned, but I felt there was a “silent” competition about who could do most vertical meters in one year. Like in 2009, when Arngeir “floored” me with his 255,735 vertical meters against my 206,600. I can only assume that many felt we were a bit crazy…
One of our most memorable hikes was the traverse across Liadalsnipa in 2008, where we found that in the Sunnmøre alps, the bar for using a rope was much higher than we thought.
To our despair, we learned in 2015 that Arngeir had a brain tumor. The outlook was not good from a statistical point of view, but Arngeir remained strong and positive, willing to fight this. I’m sure he went through some tough mental periods (who wouldn’t…) but I was impressed by the way he dealt with this.
Unfortunately, Arngeir lost the battle against the cancer and passed away in October 2016. It was a very sad day for his family, friends and colleagues.
Trond Gran Andreassen and Kjetil Svenkerud were two of Arngeir’s regular hiking mates, and at the funeral we agreed we should go on a hike together, in memory of Arngeir. The choice fell on Skarrabben – a peak that none of us had been on, and that Arngeir had wanted to visit.
About one year later, Oct 1 2017, I met up with Trond and Kjetil at Standal. We took the ferry over to Trandal and drove up the mountain road in Trandalsdalen. Trond wanted to do a traverse across Skarrabben, but as we didn’t know too much about the peak, we would just have to make that decision when we reached the summit. IF we reached the summit…
We started out from approx. 540m and headed up øvre Koppen. We had an easy walk up to the foot of the mountain, where the terrain got significantly steeper.
The “guide book” said that we should follow the south ridge until it got too difficult, then go right and follow the slabs upwards. It was quite clear when the south ridge turned “unfit for hiking”, but we didn’t quite understand where the slab route went.
First, we continued alongside the ridge, only to learn that this was surely not the right way.
We then traversed northeast until we saw a potential route leading up to the southeast ridge. Trond went ahead and informed the us that this looked very promising.
I could still not get over the fact that Trond had brought his dog – Akira! I was prepared to climb if needed, and that would have been very awkward for the dog. But so far, this was just scrambling terrain and the dog was doing just fine!
Getting up to Trond meant crossing a slab section that was of the unforgiving kind, should one slip. I didn’t like this part at all! Nothing to hold on to. And the rain seemed only minutes away. At this point, I was very motivated for a descent somewhere else. On the other hand, I didn’t think that any other route would be easy either, given that were ON the recommended route. Did we ascent the ridge too early? Should we have continued further towards the southeast ridge? We were not sure, but now it seemed like the rest would be easy, unless the southeast ridge had an unpleasant surprise for us.
The ridge didn’t offer any surprises. It was surprisingly easy to get to the summit! Big joy! Finally on this peak, which I had thought about moving to Ålesund. It took 12 years to get here. The bigger reward…
Trond however, had a surprise in store. After all, this hike was in memory of Arngeir, and Trond had brought 3 miniature bottles of whisky. The story was that Arngeir and a couple of friends had bought a barrel of whisky in Scotland. But Arngeir passed away before the barrel was ready for delivery. Arngeir’s wife went to Scotland to bring the barrel to Norway, and gave one bottle to Trond – as a token of their friendship.
So we made a toast for our friend Arngeir, and we all felt that there could hardly be a better way to honor his memory and friendship.
It had already rained some, and it was time to pay some thought to the descent. It didn’t take too long to agree on that the route on the other side did NOT look trivial. Did we really want to go on a route finding mission in this type of terrain. With a dog? At that point in time, I preferred to return the same way we came, and hoped that the slabs would not be too difficult. Trond and Kjetil also agreed to this, and we began our descent.
I didn’t find it trivial to retrace my steps. The terrain looked altogether different, going the opposite way. In this situation, being a group helps. At any given point, the chance that at least one person sees something familiar is quite good.
The strong wind solved the slab “problem”. The slab was totally dry when we got there. Being a bit more acclimated now helped, and I didn’t find the slab to be scary any more. On the other hand, if it had been wet, I would have been very, very uncomfortable. Probably to the point where I might have considered walking barefooted across…
We took it nice and easy down the slab section and talked about hiking Trandalshatten. After all, the ferry didn’t leave until 8:30pm. But then Trond raised the question; can we make the 4pm ferry? This meant that we would have to call the ferry by 3pm (the 4pm departure is “by signal” only), and we did not assume that we could get a phone signal in the valley.
It was almost 2pm, we were at 1200m and my first thought was that this didn’t seem possible. But Trond wanted to give it a go and we decided to shift gear. My judgment had been quite poor, as it only took us 30 minutes down to the car! As expected, there was no signal there, but we didn’t have to walk very far to get “one bar”. We got hold of the captain, asked him to please pick us up at Trandal, and had suddenly all the time in the world…
We parted at Standal. It had been a very special hike. Many thanks to my good hiking mates Trond and Kjetil, and I personally hope that we could start a tradition, remembering our good friend Arngeir on sharp and unfriendly peaks in the years to come…