Smørstabb Massif

Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter

AreasSmørstabb Massif › 9.3 Saksi (2189m)

Saksi, 2189 m, is a spectacular twin peaked mountain which, along with Storebjørn and Store Smørstabbtind, dominates the jagged skyline in the central part of the Smørstabb massif. From its lofty top three steep arêtes descend and separate the encircling ice sheet into three distinct glaciers.

The Route from Krossbu Lodge
total distance for return trip14km   
total ascent and descent970m   
total time for return journey 7-9hrs
difficulty rating - 8season: mar, apr, may, jul, aug, septpartial/difficult skiingglacier crossingclimbingnot suitable for wet conditions

Leave Krossbu lodge and cross the bridge over the Bøvre river to reach the camping place on the north side of the small tarn. On the north east side of this tarn the turbulent Leira river tumbles into it. Cross the bridge over this river and immediately start to climb an unmarked path up a grassy slope for a km, keeping 100-200 meters to the south of the Leira river. After 1½ km the path turns south east and climbs away from the Leira river heading up between two rocky buttresses. Follow the path up between these to reach a small shallow valley. The path now veers east again and heads up across moraine debris for another 2 km to reach the south side of the small glacial lake at about 1615 meters elevation. During these two km the path is well cairned as it winds its way through the moraine debris to the lake.

Saksi seen from the west across the Leirbrean glacierOnce at the lake on the edge of the glacier prepare for a glacier crossing and head off in the direction of Kalven keeping just to the north of a pile and then line of moraine. Don't be tempted to descend into a flatter area to the north of the moraine as it is riddled with surface streams. Instead keep along the south of moraine and then head towards the north side of the steep buttress of Kalven. Traverse across the slopes on the north of side Kalven until you are past a spur and a glacial bowl unfolds to the south. Head due across this bowl, climbing gradually towards the north west spur which descends steeply from Skeie. Once you reach the spur from Skeie continue west keeping close to the base of the spur until another glacial bowl unfolds to the south. Again head due west across this bowl towards the obvious Bjørnskardet saddle which is four km from the glacial lake at 1615 metres.

From Bjørnskardet head north traversing across the slope of the glacier for another ½ km towards the saddle on the north side of Saksi. As you approach the edge of the glacier look out for the bergschrund which is quite large towards the end of some summers. It is only a short and easy scramble from the glacier up initially loose but then stable boulders to the saddle. From here it is an easy 10 minute stroll to peak 9.13, 2077 metres up the ridge to the north. Saksi however looms steeply to the south.

The north ridge of Saksi is easier and less exposed than it looksThe ridge initially looks steep, exposed and full of problems. Upon embarking on it however the potential problems tend to be overcome surprisingly easily. In general the ridge is not as exposed as it initially looks and the rock is solid with sufficient good holds for its entirety. About ½ way up there is one four metre section of steep rock with two vertical cracks at each side which are grade III but this crag can be avoided by following a small ledge to the west for five metres then clambering up a 3 metre grade II scramble. As you approach the top after the enjoyable scramble the gradient eases. Just before the top the ridge veers east and there is another 2 metre grade II scramble, which is best taken up the apex of the ridge itself.

From this slightly lower top the main summit is just across beyond a small saddle. The descent into this saddle from the north peak is again an easy grade II scramble for 5 metres. From the saddle head west (right) under the south peak and then corkscrew up to the east to reach the summit of Saksi.

The return is either by the same route or by reversing the alternative ascent route described above down the gully on the west side to reach Bjørnskardet. From here return down Leirbrean to Krossbu. It is of course possible to continue to Leirvassbu lodge via the route described under Sm. 1. in Smørstabb massif introduction. This however goes down the deeply crevassed Bjørnbrean glacier which is a much more serious issue.