Vågakallen, Aug 3 2020

Summer vacation, day 16

Continued from day 15

Vågakallen – one of the true Lofoten majesties
Index Vågan, Norway
Date Peak/Place Height PF Location
03.08.2020 Vågakallen 942m 919m Vågan, Norway
03.08.2020 Olenilsøya 56m 56m Moskenes, Norway

Vågakallen (942m)

Just when I thought the summer vacation couldn’t get any better, it did.

Janne and Inge were also in Lofoten this summer, and we “touched base” a couple of days ago  – discussing the option to hike Vågakallen if the weather was favorable. But, I needed a day of rest after my hikes to Saupstadtinden and Himmeltindan two days earlier. That was fine by them – and they went to climb Higravtinden. Anne and I settled in – in Reine, hiking Reinebringen. Yes, this goes under “resting”.

I got to know Janne some 10 years ago, through Anne. She’s a mountain goat in a league of her own. I had never met Inge before. But, as they successfully climbed Higravtinden, that said a lot about him as a mountain guy. It’s not an easy peak to climb. At least not the first time around.

This morning, I got up at 5am. I had 100km (!) to drive from Reine to Djupfjorden near Henningsvær. The agreement was that we would meet at 8am. It’s a pretty long drive, and especially when you are driving a RV! But, it was a beautiful trip. Almost no traffic, stunning weather and awesome scenery. I really enjoyed the drive!

I *think* it’s Vågakallen in the distance

Karma would be with Anne today – working with her colleagues on projects related to the new Lofotodden National Park. I sent her a warm thought, enabling me to go on this fantastic journey.

I arrived at the Vågakallen trailhead by Djupfjorden well ahead of time, and Janne and Inge was already there. We decided to bring climbing gear. We didn’t have a lot of it, but what we had would surely do.

The time was 7:55am when we began our hike along Djupfjorden. The path was easy to follow – at least in the beginning.

Along Djupfjorden

We missed the path up Durmålsdalen valley and hiked off-trail up to 150m elevation before we decided to get back on track. We should clearly have paid more attention just after the drain from lake Djupfjordvatnet. Oh well, at least we found the path and were en route to the pass between Kvanndalstinden and Vågakallen.

On our way to the first pass

There was nothing complicated about the gully leading up to the pass, but for all the gullies on this mountain – avoid causing rocks to fall down the gully!

The first gully and the first pass

From the Kvanndalstinden – Vågakallen pass, we descended approx. 50 vertical meters down, alongside the ridge to Vågakallen, before heading up another gully – up to another pass.

Towards the second pass

This gully was not too different from the previous one. Except that it was longer and more rocky. We made again sure that the rocks remained in the place they were before we passed.

When we arrived in the pass, we had a good view of the route towards “Hustaket” – the infamous crux on the entire route.

The route from the 2nd pass and up to “Hustaket”

The next gully offered the first real scrambling so far. With plenty of handholds, this was not difficult terrain.

In our 3rd gully. More scrambling here

Not only had the route started to offer scrambling, it also started to offer some mighty fine viewpoints.

Janne offers to pose…

Then we reached “Hustaket” – the “house roof“. In front of us was a slab rock pitch with a tremendous exposure. But it is the ridge above that is actually the house roof. While we may have considered going up there, we ended up with the slab pitch.

The slab rock pitch below “Hustaket”

There is nothing difficult about this pitch on dry rock, other than your mental state. If you think you can fall, you will NOT have a nice time crossing here.

While Janne and Inge were “considering their future“, I chose to walk across. For me, it was better to just get on with it, rather than wait and potentially get nervous. Then, I returned to the others. Inge tested the route for a bit, but returned and they decided that since we had brought a rope, we might as well use it.

Inge has second thoughts…

I went over and secured the rope in the far end. Inge could then cross in running belay style, and eventually, I belayed Janne on her way across. I did have a strong feeling that we would NOT need a rope for our return.

Inge on the slab rock pitch

And then the scrambling began. Lots of it. And big fun too!

Oh yeah!

Most of the scrambling pictures were taken during descent. At this point, we were mainly focused on finding the route.

That way??

We had read that we should expect a scrambling pitch that was seemingly worthwhile to mention  in the literature. And as some of the scrambling was already “interesting enough” we were very curious what this pitch would offer. But none of us noticed any pitch that stood out from the rest, and to our surprise, we could see the summit cairn!

Almost there!

It was a HUGE sensation to top out on Vågakallen. This is truly a magnificent peak!

Janne and me on Vågakallen

I spent some late evening hours annotating the panorama I took from the summit. I enjoyed every second of it.

Lofoten panorama from Vågakallen

Higravtinden – which Janne and Inge climbed the day before was easy to recognize.

Higravtinden to the left

We also had a nice view towards Svolvær

Svolvær view

…and Henningsvær


Below us, we could see a group of people making their way across the “Hustaket” slabs. Two of them turned around halfway across.

Looking down on “Hustaket”

After a GOOD stay on top, it was time to head back down. The scrambling was SO fun. There was not a single pitch I didn’t look forward to.

Expect exposure up here…

We were all smiles during this descent.

Typical terrain – and a lot of it!

Back on “Hustaket“, neither Janne nor Inge felt a need for the rope, and we just “flew” across.

Nothing to it!

The gully below “Hustaket” was possibly the one where I applied most focus. I chose to downclimb face in, while others went face out. That was probably the best approach in this gully.

The most “technical” gully

7 hours and 26 minutes after heading out, we returned to our cars. There, Janne met a friend who was on Mt. Blanc with her. And what I didn’t know was that my Finnish buddy Jukka (from the Jan Mayen trip) was also climbing somewhere above me. Fortunately, I was able to meet up with Jukka in Jotunheimen 2 weeks later.

It was a truly unforgettable day and Janne, Inge and I will have this moment forever!

Looking back on Vågakallen

I had a really nice drive back to Reine. I stopped by my cousin Mia’s place near Unstad and we had a good and long talk. A lot has happened in 20 years.

View from Mia’s place near Unstad

When I returned to Reine, the fog was making an already dramatic landscape even more dramatic.


Trip statistics: 9,4km, 1050 vertical meters, 7h:26m

Pictures from the trip (Canon EOS RP/Iphone8):

Olenilsøya (56m)

Olenilsøya and our rented Rorbu

I was back at reine 7:20pm, and found Karma in the rented cabin, but not Anne. She had dropped Karma off before joining her colleagues for dinner.

So, I took Karma for an evening walk up to the high point on the island we were.

To the high point

A top is a top!

Another one in the bag!

While the top itself was nothing to write home about, the views were!

My, my oh my! (Reine in Lofoten)

Anne arrived not too long after we returned to the cabin, and we had a lot of things to talk about over dinner – at Anitas Sjømat. They had nice fishburgers, but I didn’t like the McDonald’s type of waiting line.

Returning to our rented Rorbu

Trip statistics: 0,6km, 50 vertical meters, 12 minutes

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