Falketind, Aug 16 2020

One of Norway’s finest peaks

Tops and places visited
Peak/Place Height PF Location
Falketind 2067m 173m Årdal, Norway

Sunday, week 33: My friend Jukka from the 2019 Jan Mayen expedition was in Norway this summer, climbing in Jotunheimen with his girlfriend Hennu. He was also in Lofoten at the same time Anne and I were there. As a matter of fact, the day I hiked Vågakallen, Jukka was climbing in the very neighbourhood, I later found out. It was a shame that we missed each other, but we made some tentative plans to hike Falketind together later in the summer.

With the gorgeous weather, Falketind was on for this Sunday! I left Sogndal very early in the morning and had a beautiful drive along Årdalsfjorden.

A nice start to the day!

The scenery wasn’t much worse when I got to lake Tyinvatnet, with Falketind and Uranostind in the centre of my view.

Falketind and Uranostind dominating the view

I waited for Jukka and Hennu near Tyinholmen, where I still had cellphone coverage. They were running a bit late, coming from their camp in Leirdalen. I easily killed time with yet another Clive Cussler book. Eventually, they arrived and we drove the – partly – rough road into Koldedalen – where parking is limited. After some back and forth, I was able to park my car in a ditch where I didn’t seem to block for any other traffic. I was very happy I had a 4WD car!

On our way into Koldedalen

Jukka and Hennu needed to get something to eat. I thought it was their breakfast, but it turned out it was their lunch! I hadn’t eaten since 5am in the morning, but figured I would be fine with my packed lunch – to be enjoyed on the mountain.

Cooking in progress…

We had agreed that we would climb the “Pioneerruta” route – the very first ascent route on Falketind. I had seen pictures of a large group without a rope, as well as reading that a rope is required. It would be interesting to get there and see for myself!

At 10:33am, we were on our way. Pretty late, given our ambition to hike both Falketind and Stølsnostind. Stølsnostind would be a bonus anyway, but I had my doubts about getting there today.

We’re on our way

We hiked (almost) to the end of the Koldedalen road and found a path that we followed upwards.

The ascent has begun

After a while, Falketind and Falkungen came into view. Pretty impressive!

Falketind and Falkungen

It was agreed that we would hike the glacier in a rope, although it wasn’t evident that a rope was needed.

Along the Snøggeken/Falkbreen glacier

When we got to the point where the climbing would start, we agreed to climb using the rope. Jukka would lead, then I would follow and then Hennu.

Green route – roughly where we climbed up. Red = Rappel route

A number of climbers were being belayed down by guides. We had to cross literally under people coming down, but without problems of any kind.

The climbing was very easy. The first pitch had plenty of good holds but was also unforgiving in case of a fall. As we didn’t know what was above us, we continued to do roped pitches, although we were in scrambling terrain. But, we didn’t know. This route was new to all of us.

Looking down on Hennu

Guides and other experienced climbers just walk down here…

Exposed, but not difficult

After 3 rope lengths, we reached a point where we could just walk up to the ridge. We were still had the rope between us, but should have put it in the backpack already after the first pitch.

After the first pitch, it’s just scrambling terrain. If you can handle the exposure…

On the ridge (approx. 1840m, we had the summit ahead of us. And based on the looks of it, there didn’t seem to be any exposed sections and Jukka left his backpack behind.

On the ridge with Falketind ahead

There was one section near the top where we (barely) used our hands for balance, but it was basically just a “walk in the park”.

And then we were up! I had been thinking about this summit for at least 20 years, but never got around to just do it. I really enjoyed it, and I’m pretty sure Jukka and Hennu did too!

Hennu and Jukka on Falketind

Hennu had no previous experience with climbing, and had a very steep learning curve during their stay in Jotunheimen. She handled herself very well.

I have found myself a nice spot for glacier view

The time was 3:40pm in the afternoon when we reached the top. All other climbers were on their way down and Stølsnostind was simply out of scope. We all agreed on that, and that we should return the way we came.

Stølsnostind – on the other side of the glacier

But before we left the mountain, pictures!

Peaks surrounding Smørstabbreen glacier
Austabotn- and Ringstind peaks

And then we could leave…

Leaving the summit

When we reached the point on the ridge we came up, we hiked down to the place where our 3rd pitch had ended. I scrambled down the two climbing pitches and wondered why the others didn’t follow.

The reason was that Jukka decided that he and Hennu should climb down using belays. Which took its time. I could not see the point, but on the other hand, Jukka could not see the point of climbing down without a rope. So, there were clearly different schools at play. Jukka felt that climbing in this type of terrain without safety precautions was just “bad style“, while we scramble terrain like this all the time on Sunnmøre. Without a rope. It was all the same to me, of course. I just had to wait.

Waiting for the others

Above the pitch where a rope makes really good sense, I was on the brink of just climbing down by myself. But, I didn’t want to go “rogue” on my mates and waited for them. There was a sling around a rock that seemed safe enough and we decided to rappel from here.

The 60m rope would only give us a 30m rappel, which *almost* took us down to the entry point above the glacier, but the remaining part was dead easy and there was no need for a longer rope.

Hennu is about to begin her rappel

Back on the glacier, I felt that the rope was really not needed (I wanted to be back in Sogndal before midnight…) , but Jukka felt differently. So, we roped up again. Steep snow was a new experience for Hennu, and so were the crampons and the ice-axe.

The last rays of sunshine on Falketind

We were back at the cars 08:09pm – ~9h:40m after heading out. That should be enough time to do the entire traverse – including Stølsnostind. But, that didn’t matter much. It was a beautiful hike and a beautiful day. One I will never forget. Many thanks to Jukka and Hennu for this experience, and I hope to hike with them again next year!

Hjelledalstinden and Falketind

The drive back to Sogndal was just as nice as the one I had in the morning…

Along lake Tyinvatnet

I got the 10pm ferry from Fodnes and arrived at Anne’s place 35-40 minutes later. I had absolutely earned a beer before bedtime!

Waiting for the ferry at Fodnes

Trip statistics: 10,5, 900 vertical meters, 9h:36m

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

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