Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter
Areas › Smørstabb Massif › Detailed Information
The Smørstabb massif in north west Jotunheimen is a massif of two halves. The northern section is largely rounded mountains with some steep ridges while the southern section is very alpine with sharp aretes ridges and angular summits. The massif is bordered by 3 huge valleys; Leirdalen to the east, Bøverdalen/Briedsæterdalen to the north and west, and Gravdalen to the South. There are eleven mountains in this massif and a further twelve peaks over 2000 metres.
The massif is characterized by its huge glaciers. Indeed the biggest glacier in the whole of Jotunheimen is found here, Smørstabbreen which is 14 square km. In addition to this there are another six large glaciers on the east side of the massif, mostly on the more rounded northern half of the massif where they are seperated by sharp aretes. These glaciers, mainly in the southern half, cause some access problems in the summer as many of the mountains are surrounded by crevassed glaciers and some glacial experience is needed to cross them.
In the winter/spring season, especially in April and May, these same glaciers provide excellent ski routes to the base of these same mountains. However, due to the alpine nature of the mountains in the Smørstabb massif climbing them in spring presents extra challenges. One of the glaciers on the east side, Storbreen, has been the center of glacial research for many decades now.
Access to these mountains is easy in the summer time from the valleys to the east and west of the massif and expecially Krossbu and Leirvassbu lodges. Given the necessary glacial experience any of the mountains are a days tour from the road. In the winter/spring however these roads are blocked and it will be necessary to ski to Leirvassbu or Krossbu lodges before starting most ascents.
Historically the valley to the north and west of the massif was part of an important drove and trade route connecting the arterial Gubrandsdalen valley of central Norway to the west coast fiords and the Hanseatic town of Bergen. This route was used throughout the centuries and the risk of being caught by bad weather or robbed by pariahs was all too real.
In 1938 a road was opened and this replaced the drove road. The cairns which mark the drove road are still clearly visible. The road, now called ‘Sognefjellsveien’ and is one of the most scenic drives in the world, is blocked by snow from late autumn until the first of May.