Møysalen, July 31 2020

Summer vacation, day 13

Continued from day 11 & 12

Tops and places visited
Peak/Place Height PF Location
Møysalen 1264m 1264m Lødingen/ Sortland, Norway

Møysalen is many things, in addition to be a magnificent mountain. It is the highest mountain in the Lofoten – Vesterålen region, the highest mountain in Lødingen and Sortland municipalities and the highest mountain on Hinnøya – Norway’s largest mainland island. It is however NOT the highest island mountain top in Norway. Langlitinden on Andørja beats Møysalen by 12 meters…

Anne and I had planned to visit Møysalen when we last visited the region in 2016, but the weather wasn’t as good as we needed it to be. So, it would just have to wait.

But this summer, Møysalen was definitely ON the agenda – opportunity, inspiration and weather permitted.

We spent the night by Raftsundet – in our rented RV and drove early morning to the trailhead at Ingelsfjordeidet. We had discussed hiking from Kaljord and along Lonkanfjorden, but we had mixed information about how good this trail was – at this time of year. As such, we decided to go for the “safe” route, which would be slightly longer and offer more vertical gain.

Our route to and from Møysalen

We headed out 07:45am and followed the path in the direction of lake Storvatnet. We were happy to find wooden plank across the wet parts.

A nice start to the hike

Next, the path climbed up a ridge, only to drop down to Tverrelva river before we headed into the Forkledalen valley. After a little while, Møysalen came into view. It seemed quite far away!

Møysalen comes into view

The terrain around us kept changing the higher we got, which we found very fascinating. We looked forward to rise above the forest and get closer to the mountain.

Enjoying varying terrain

After the forest came the snow, of course. Summer will come late here this year…

Entering snow…

Then we had to cross the river coming from lake 355m. I don’t know how big this river can get after rain or massive snow melt, but crossing it wasn’t a big deal then and there.

Anywhere looks the same…

The trail then took us up to an unnamed lake at approx. 400m, which was for the most part covered with ice. It was somewhat mind-boggling to us. Should there really be a frozen lake at this low elevation in the middle of the summer?

Looking back on the ~400m lake

From the lake, we went across a pass and lost 100 meters of vertical gain when we arrived at lake 328m. From here, the route turned northeast and we could feel that we were seriously closing in on the mountain!

In the pass above lake 328m, and the valley we followed upwards

The trail now climbed northwest and we eventually joined the trail from Lonkanfjorden. We could now head north – towards the mountain, aiming to pass around top 910m for starters. We were really excited now!

Excited! Møysalen in center

Møyen – or “Stormøya” as I think it’s also called – looked very impressive!

Møyen aka Stormøya

Lesson learned was that we should have filled up water earlier. The water higher up was below the snow. We continued up to the foot of point 910m and followed the path towards the beginning of Møysalen’s west ridge. The path was a little bit exposed in a couple of places, but not difficult.

Towards the start if the ridge. Note the alternative route to the right.

The start of the ridge looked steep (considering the dog), but we could see an easier way further right. Still, we decided to go for the ridge route.

Looks steep, but we wanted to give it a try

It turned out that this pitch was far easier than we had thought. Karma is no stranger to rugged terrain.

Well done!

A steep cliff suggested that the next pitch could be more challenging, and it was. The natural ascent route is in the middle and the crux is a short, narrow and steep gully where a fixed chain was in place. For people, this chain is of no particular help as the scrambling is very easy. However, it was helpful for us handling the dog – especially on our way down. More on that later. This pitch didn’t pose a huge problem. But, I was happy once we were above it.

The steep cliff ahead of us

Next followed a slightly airy passage in order to get back on the ridge.

A chain is also found here, but not really needed. Other than for comfort…

Back on the ridge, we saw that there was another steep obstacle ahead of us, and while it wasn’t evident – we assumed that the route would run up the right-hand side.

Another steep section

There were no real difficult moves, and there were several options here and there. We spent a little extra time finding the easiest passages for the dog.

Trying out the various options

We weren’t up yet, but certainly felt that we were closing in!

Very good spirit!

The final section would possibly involve using our newly purchased ice cleats and ice axe. But, the snow was soft and Anne was OK with her poles only.

A snow field near the top

I decided to pull out the axe just in case the dog suddenly decided to run after a hare or a grouse.

Oh yeah!

And then we were on top of Møysalen! Man, it was great to be up here! Finally!

Groupie on Møysalen

We would of course have hoped for blue sky and no clouds, but there were no complaints. The weather was still gorgeous and I we were just wearing t-shirts and shorts. And possibly, the views were even more stunning with the Lofoten peaks rising above the fog.

Panorama from Møysalen

We didn’t stay for very long. We could see that the fog was POURING into the valley we would be descending. That was of no big concern, but we didn’t necessarily want fog on our ridge route. It was complex enough as it was.

Beautiful and annoying at the same time…

The descent down to the gully with the fixed chain went without any issues, now that we knew where the easiest route for Karma was.

One steep cliff done. One to go…

When we got to the steep gully, a bunch of people were on their way up and we just had to wait.

Yielding for a larger group

Eventually, it was our turn. Anne was above Karma, lowering her. I was below Karma, catching her – and preventing her from going her own way. After 3-4 moves like that, we were below the gully. We were happy that this pitch was history and now we didn’t care about the fog anymore. We also asked two other hikers heading upwards to step aside to avoid any rockfall caused by Karma.

View up the steepest section. The gully is in the middle

So we discussed where we should stop for lunch. We agreed that we should complete the ridge part and find a spot below point 910m.

View up the ridge

Hungry and thirsty, we sat course for the lunch place.

All easy street from here on

After lunch, we continued our descent and soon ran into fog. But the route is well marked and navigation was never difficult.

Into the fog

Down by lake 328m, we met a couple aiming for the top, hoping to get above the fog. As things were right now, they would probably get above it before reaching the west ridge. A good reward for true optimism!

Bon voyage!

The route back to the car felt much longer than the route up the mountain. I guess it’s often like that for long routes. I wasn’t too eager with my camera anymore, but at least photographed Anne on her way across the river. Just in case she fell 😉

Good job!

We reached the car 5:25pm, tired and happy. It was a beautiful, memorable and strenuous walk. I could NOT imagine myself being a guide her, doing the route 1-2 times per week. Once in a lifetime was enough. There are other places I want to see.

Goodbye and thanks for the experience!

It was now time to leave Vesterålen and set course for Lofoten. We wanted to be in Reine two days later, so we had plenty of time. We drove to Svolvær to fill up gas and water and then continued to the west to find a place to park for the night. We found a nice spot at Daljorda, just before the bridge between Austvågøya and Gimsøya. It was a desolate spot, with only one office building (of some kind) nearby. Nothing resembling private property and no signs about camping prohibited. I could see people by the building looking our way. The “damned tourists” way of looking. For above mentioned reasons, I didn’t care and we decided to celebrate the day with a nice dinner and a glass of wine.


After hitting the bed, I noticed a car stopping on the main road for several minutes. My first that it was a land owner checking if he could see some activity in the car. I expected someone to come out to ask us to get the hell out of there. Eventually, the car drove away but we clearly didn’t feel welcome here and would definitely get out of this place early in the morning.

Trip statistics: 22,6km (ca), 1600 (ca.) vertical meters, 9h:40m

Pictures (Canon EOS RP/Iphone):

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