Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter
Areas › Rauddalen Area › 4.2 Skarddalseggi (2159m)
Skarddalseggi, 2159 metres, is the highest point of a long thin massif. This massif contains 2 mountains, Skarddalseggi and Skarddalstind, 2100m, which are separated by a glacier and a jagged saddle. To the north and south of this east-west aligned massif are deep valleys with green lakes.
|The Route from Gjendebu Lodge|
The route from Gjendebu lodge is long and in the early summer or after rain involves a serious river crossing over the River Storåe above Hellertjørni lake. This river crossing can be avoided by going via Gjendetunga and this is described below as a descent option. The route via Gjendetunga adds 1 hour in each direction.
Leave Gjendebu lodge and head up through the lush birch woods of Storådalen valley on the marked path Vi.1 to Leirvassbu lodge. Follow this easy and pleasant path up through the flower filled forest on the north and then through willow scrub and meadow on the east side of the Storåe river for 2½ hours.
Pass Hellerfossen waterfall and then Hellertjørni lake and prepare to wade over to the west side of the river. There are 2 possible crossing points over the river.
The first and safest is across the delta where the river flows into Hellertjørni lake. The second is where there is a long underwater shelf as the river flows out of Langvatnet lake, but this is not an option if the river is high as there is a risk of getting swept downstream.
Once over the river head west up the turf slope, follow the north shore of the pretty Trondsholstjørni lake and then start up the stony slopes to the knoll at the base of the ridge marked, 1521m. From this flat knoll continue south west into the basin towards a glacier. After ½ hour of picking a route through shallow slabs and boulders start to veer south up much steeper slopes for ¼ hour to gain the start of the east arête.
The east arête is a joy to follow. It is not steep, it is wide and the rounded rock offers a rough grip on the sole of your boots. It continues like this for over 1 km until an approaching steeper area heralds the start of a more challenging 60m section of black rock with 10m of lighter rock perched on top of it.
This section starts with the arête narrowing significantly for 10 metres into quite an airy section. This can be passed on either the north or south side. Once this narrow section is passed the arête becomes quite steep through the section of black rock. However, there is a wide shelf on the south side of the arête which is a jumble of large stable scree. It is easy to clamber over this scree for 50 metres of ascent to reach the top of this shelf.
From here you should be able to see a wall about 40-50m to the west. At this point turn north and scramble up the lighter coloured rock to gain the main arête again. Follow the arête for 30 metres until you get to a second narrow point on the arête with a gully descending into oblivion on the south under the aforementioned wall.
From this second narrow point the arête remains much sharper and more airy for the final 300m along the ridge. The gradient, however, is quite gentle for this last, somewhat exposed, 300m to the summit and the large stone cairn.
The return is by the same route to Gjendebu lodge. Alternatively if you don't want to wade the Storåe river again you could descend to the bottom of the east ridge and then cross the stream between Skarddalsvatnet and Trondsholstjørni lakes. Then head south east across undulating turf and stony terrain, which is dotted with small tarns, for 5 km towards the prominent knoll of Gjendetunga.
Pass just south of the top of Gjendetunga and by the north shore of a small tarn, then cross a small saddle to the north and begin a steep descent on a good but sometimes slippery path down into the Storådalen valley.
Once in the valley follow the sometimes marshy path for a km east to reach a bridge over the Storåe river and Gjendebu lodge just beyond. This route can also be used as an ascent route if the rivers are high or you don't fancy the inevitable wade on the preferred route. Add and hour if you take this Gjendetunga return route.
It is also possible to return to Olavsbu cabin down the east arête and ridge, then along the south shore of Skarddalsvatnet lake as described in an alternative route above. However, as an alternative I recommend retracing your steps to the flatter area at bottom of the east arête at about an altitude of 1800 metres. Here, instead of going down the east ridge go down the north side of the ridge towards Langvatnet.
The route is not steep as you descend directly north towards the obvious ridge 400m below you. Keep to the west of the ridge as you descend in a large gully which will eventually lead you to a large sandy stream delta on the south shore of Langvatnet.
This delta is a magical place; an oasis of soft sand and moss in a stony world. The are many small wading birds nesting here and reindeer often graze nearby undisturbed as these shores are rarely visited. Continue along the mossy southern shore of Langvatnet lake for a further 3 km, hopefully in the glorious evening sun, while skirting round the northern flank of Skarddalstind.
Eventually you reach the main Leirvassbu-Olavsbu path about 1 km north of Rauddalsbandet. Allow 10-12 hours return to Olavsbu cabin.
It is also feasible for experienced parties to continue the traverse from the top of Skarddalseggi to Skarddalstind and then make the reasonably quick and simple descent to Olavsbu cabin from here. Allow 11 hours from Gjendebu lodge to Olavsbu cabin with small rucksacks.