Søre Fjellstølen, Dec 22-27 2017

Christmas in the mountains and big drama

Peaks visited:

Peak Height PF Location
Bjødalskampen 1157m 129m Sør-Aurdal, Norway
Hollastølsfjellet (Langehallfjellet) 1175m 185m Sør-Aurdal, Norway
Vest for Makalausfjellet 1004m 136m Nord-Aurdal, Norway
Hihaugen 1018m 28m Sør-Aurdal, Norway
Fjellstølhaugen 992m 34m Sør-Aurdal, Norway
Dugursberget 1016m 23m Sør-Aurdal, Norway

Dec 22 2017 – Transport Leg and a day we won’t forget

For this Christmas, we rented a cabin at Søre Fjellstølen in Sør-Aurdal. Eastern Norway. Both Anne and I looked forward to get away from the bad weather in western Norway, and perhaps have some really nice ski-trips during the Christmas holiday.

All mountain passes in southern Norway were either closed or handled through convoy. Except E16 across Filefjell, which was still open. I don’t like driving across the mountains in December, but it turned out that it wasn’t the mountain crossing I should worry about.

The crossing itself went just fine. The wind and snowdrift ceased once we passed the county and watershed border. And when we got to lake Vangsmjøse, we could see blue sky. WHAT a huge shift from weeks and weeks with snow and rain in western Norway. So far, things were looking good for a fantastic Christmas vacation in Eastern Norway.

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Skutshorn (left) and Vennisfjellet, seen from Vangsmjøse

Then we got to Tveita Bru (bridge). It was a narrow bridge, and a car at the other end decided to stop. Thus, I continued across the bridge. We were almost across when another car appeared in our lane, coming out of nowhere. A collision was unavoidable. It turned that this driver hadn’t noticed that there was a car waiting by the bridge, so to avoid smashing that car from behind, he threw his car in the other lane. Our lane.

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Just after the collision

 

We were a fraction of second away from hitting this car front to front, or staying clear of it altogether – as he desperately tried to get back into his lane. His rear left smashed into our front left, and both cars were completely unfit for further travel. But fortunately, there were no injuries. In the other car, there was a couple, a child and a dog.

Now, the only open route between eastern and western Norway was blocked. But that was not something I reflected on at the time.

All emergency services (Police, Ambulance, Fire dept.) arrived at the scene, and we were extremely well taken care of. It was a bit surreal, as I found myself unable to be quite present in the situation. I was not in shock, only thinking about checking if the dog was truly OK and how we would make it to our destination. Thus, the medical examination and the police interrogation was of the “please, get this over with” kind. By the time I was able to get a thorough look at the dog, she seemed quite OK. This breed (French waterdog) doesn’t easily panic…

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The road was open again for small cars once rescue services came to the scene

And I was SO glad I had put so much effort into packing the luggage in the best way possible. Nothing was broken. Not even the Christmas Aquavite…

The Police concluded that we were not to blame (which didn’t come as a huge surprise), I got my license back and we got a ride to Fagernes, sitting in our own car – on top of the rescue car.

At Fagernes, an Avis representative met us (I had called them up front), and he had a Ford Transit Connect to offer us. Not a true substitute for our Caddy Maxi (which was quite full), but we were able to squeeze everything into the Ford. Including the Christmas Tree. Now, things were definitely looking up!

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By force, we were able to get the Christmas tree into the Ford Transit…

The road to Bagn was quite icy, and totally unfamiliar with this car, I drove very, very carefully. The long mountain drive up to Søre Fjellstølen was not pleasant. The road was extremely icy and the traction control light was constantly ON. Oh, how I missed my 4WD Caddy!!

But this was not the time for complaints. We arrived at our destination, just a couple of hours behind schedule, and we could start planning for Christmas. I could not help reflecting on if things had gone so smooth in a different country…

We found that there was no real need to talk things through. We’re both the “OK – let’s move on” kind of people. Once we had settled in, Anne served Rakfisk , accessories and Aquavite. Christmas holiday was ON.

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Ready for Rakfisk!

Dec 23 2017 – Bjødalskampen

I woke up to a text message from work at 6:30am. By 6:45am, I was online and ready to fix the issue. A few hours later, things were under control and I woke up Anne and Karma. Rise and shine!

The weather wasn’t great. It was raining lightly, but we both agreed that we should go skiing. And why not go for Bjødalskampen – 3km south of the cabin (straight line). As the snow was quite rotten, I was a bit concerned about the dog, but we would just see how things turned out.

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Our route to Bjødalskampen

Things turned out quite good. We quickly found prepared ski-tracks that ran (almost) all the way up to the summit. The actual distance (once way) was 5km, and as the weather wasn’t really bad, this would just be an enjoyable ski-trip.

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Going skiing!

Approaching Bjødalskampen, we saw reindeer in several places. I had forgotten to bring the leash, and had to tell Karma that chasing reindeer was totally “out of order”. She completely understood.

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Local reindeer

When we reached the top, the weather was of the sort that didn’t invite to sit down and enjoy a lunch. While Anne signed the visitor’s register, I noticed a herd of reindeer passing by and had to remind Karma that the chasing part was still no-no. She acknowledged, after strong objections…

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On top of Bjødalskampen

Time to turn around, but we took a detour to Øytjern to become familiar with the area. The ski-trip was 10,7km in total and all in all very enjoyable. I had bagged my *new* top #98 in 2017, and with my annual goal of 100 new tops, I had only 2 more to go. I was optimistic about reaching my goal before leaving this area.

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Heading back

The afternoon was (a.o.) spent with decorating the Christmas tree – a pine tree that came from my backyard on Sunnmøre – for the 3rd Christmas in a row. There are now only two pine trees left. None of them really suited for Christmas. I’ll worry about that later…

The day before Christmas ended on quite a relaxing note. The dramatic day before seemed like a lifetime ago. Sometimes, it just helps not to dwell on the past. Enjoy life. You never know what’s around the corner.

 Pictures from the Bjødalskampen trip:

 Dec 24 2017 – Hollastølsfjellet

As I hoped, Christmas Eve brought very nice weather, albeit the wind was quite strong and cold. But after breakfast, we were ready to go to Hollastølsfjellet. This would be a longer trip than Bjødalsfjellet, but still fairly easy – as most of it would be along prepared tracks.

We followed the same route as the day before, but when we got to the junction by Fiskebufjellet, we went west, through a pass and then got Hollastølsfjellet in view for the first time.

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Hollastølsfjellet comes into view

It’s not the most exciting thing in the world to follow tracks, but if it hadn’t been for them, we would not have been able to bring Karma with us, and Anne and I would have to go on separate trips. As such, I welcomed them.

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A cold, but beautiful day

At the north end of lake Øytjern (there are two lakes with the same name in this area), we started the ascent towards Hollastølsfjellet. A fox crossed the tracks ahead of us. It looked at us for a little while, then vanished.

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Towards the summit ridge

Between Sangeknatten and Hollastølsfjellet, the tracks turned north and we got on the ridge that would take us westbound to the top. We passed one hump before we got the main top in view. I could see the trigonometric point from a long distance.

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On the summit ridge. Nice sky!

When we reached the top, I checked the GPS which stated that we were on Hollastølsfjellet, 1174m. And as I could not see any higher point on this ridge, I officially claimed that this mountain was now “in the bag”, and my current count of new pf100 tops in 2017 was 99. One more to go.

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On top of Hollastølsfjellet

We didn’t see any reindeer today, which was good. Not that Karma would have been able to chase them in the deep snow, but at least we didn’t have to worry about this impossibility…

We took the same route back (almost) and enjoy both the downhills and much gentler winds.

We returned to the cabin after 14,7km and approx. 3 hours of skiing.

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Descending from Hollastølsfjellet

Later on, when I did my usual routine by uploading GPS track, checking various maps, etc., I discovered that we had NOT been to the high point! A stupid hump 250 meters to the southwest is called Langehallfjellet and is 1175,2m while Hollastølsfjellet is 1174,3m. A difference of 90cm. Aaarggh!

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Back at the rented cabin

I had to go multiple rounds with myself on this one. Normally, a high point is a high point. However, given the fact that I was in “desperate need” of new tops, I decided to claim it. After all, there was nothing preventing us from reaching the high point (like a climb). The normal maps don’t even show this point, and there was a trig. point on Hollastølsfjellet. We had every reason to believe we were on the high point. For a peakbagger, this is serious! Stuff that matters! But I decided not to let it ruin Christmas Eve 😉

Which turned out to be a quite nice evening…

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Countdown…

Pictures from the Hollastølsfjellet trip:

Dec 25 2017 – Point 1004m

We slept until late on Christmas day. The weather wasn’t as good as the day before, and the wind was even stronger. Anne said she would like to stay at the cabin, do some walks with Karma and suggested that I could ski to Makalausfjellet (1099m) and meet my annual goal of 100 new tops. Most of the trip would be in the forest, where I would be sheltered from the wind.

After checking the map, I decided to ski straight from the cabin, down to the road to Nordre Fjellstølen, follow the tractor road to lake Kvitingen, visit an unnamed top which also qualifies as a proper top in my book, continue down to lake Eidvatnet and ascend Makalausfjellet from there.

I got off to a late start (11am), skied down the forest and was almost exhausted by the time I reached the road to Nordre Fjellstølen. The forest was dense and the snow was deep and rotten. I had skied only 1,4km and it felt like 10…

In order to get to the Kvitingen tractor road, I had to lose even more elevation. I had hoped that there were some kind of tracks along this road, but there wasn’t. The snow was deep. Perhaps I sunk 10-15cm down for each step, but the poles sunk 50cm! By the time I got to lake Kvitingen (12:17pm), I realized that I would not make it to Makalausfjellet and back before dark. So I settled for point 1004m instead. A top is a top…

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Along the tractor road to Kvitingen
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On Lake Kvitingen

On my way across the lake, I stopped by the area where there are potholes (Jettegryter in Norwegian). But I wasn’t quite sure where to find them, so I moved on.

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Are these the potholes?

At the north end of the lake, I followed the valley upwards. It was quite clear that I was on the path to lake Eidvatnet.

Halfway up the valley, I turned northeast and found an OK route to the top. peakbook.org calls this top Vest for Makalausfjellet (Vest for as in west of…). On my GPS map, the summit contour is 980m, while peakbook.org has 1004m as official height. This confused me, but when I got back home I could see that on Økonomisk Kartverk, there is a 1000m contour. An interpolation of additional 1-2 meters could have been in order, but 4? Anyway, my GPS waypoint read 1000m, so it’s probably a 1000m+ top.

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On the summit ridge to point 1004m

The time was now 1:08pm, and Makalausfjellet was definitely out of reach, as I had forgotten to bring a headlamp. I looked forward to the descent, but there wasn’t really much to look forward to.

The descent down to the lake was less strenuous than going up, but nowhere near FUN. The lake part was OK, as I was able to skate across. Then I had to get back up to the tractor road and endure some flat stretches before I got to the real downhill.

Back on the road to Nordre Fjellstølen, I had to make a choice. Follow my tracks up the extremely cumbersome forest, or follow the road back to the cabin on Søre Fjellstølen, via Nordre Fjellstølen? The choice was quite easy; along the road.

I was just above lake Øytjern when Anne called me. She and Karma was on the lake, so I skied down and joined them there.

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Meeting my family at lake Øytjern

We returned to the cabin 3pm, which means there’s not a whole lot of daylight left at this time of year. Being generous with the Hollastølsfjellet ascent the day before, I had now met my annual goal of 100 new tops with a primary factor (pf) of at least 100m. It gets harder and harder every year, as I have to go further and further away to find tops that I haven’t been to before. But it’s a fun challenge!

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Trip tracks

If you’ve seen the term “pf100” on this site, it simply means that the there are at least 5 20m contours completely encircling the top. In other words, no matter where you go, you have to descent at least 100 meters. This is a normal definition of a standalone mountain top (regardless of its elevation), and the prominence measurement is called the “primary factor” – pf.

Pictures from the trip:

Dec 26 2017 – “Uværsrunden” and some local hilltops

We’ve had a massive snowfall, and the plan of skiing to Haugsetfjellet (1152m) was dropped. Instead, we decided to ski a track that is called “Uværsrunden” – a route for bad weather on Søre Fjellstølen. As this route passed the local hilltops Hihaugen (1018m), Fjellstølhaugen (992m) and Dugurdsberget (1016), we agreed to visit these tops too.

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Trip tracks – red route

Hihaugen was only a couple of minutes from our cabin, but the off-trail route was quite strenuous for Karma.

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On top of Hihaugen

Then we followed the route to the northeast, took a wrong turn and realized (after a while) that we were on our way to Stavadalen (definitely not the place we wanted to go). So we had to ski back up to “Uværsrunden” and continued in the direction of Fjellstølhaugen.

Fjellstølhaugen meant another strenuous ascent for Karma. She’s a tough girl, and she can handle swimming in powder snow without a bottom for short periods of time. This was definitely one of those times.

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On top of Fjellstølhaugen

We continued south, and when we saw the signpost “Øytjern 2km“, we had good control. But we never found the Øytjern route. Instead, we ended up on the route to the Bjødalskampen/Hollastølsfjellet junction by Fiskebufjellet. Quite a detour…

But now we were on familiar ground and followed the route to (below) Dugurdsberget. Another short and strenuous off-trail route awaited Karma. On top of Dugurdsberget, I realized that I had just broken my binding. Good thing we were less than 0,5km away from the cabin…

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On top of Dugurdsberget

We aimed for the nearest road and returned to the cabin via the local roads. A nice 11,7km and 3h:15m round trip!

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De-icing the dog

Pictures from the trip:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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