Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter
Areas › Galdhøpiggen Massif › 10.2 Skardstind (2373m)
Skardstind, 2373 metres, is a huge and impressive mountain. In fact it is the fifth highest peak in Scandinavia.
|The Route from Geitsætre in Leirdalen|
From Geitsætri in Leirdalen start to head up the northern side of the tumbling silt-laden Illå stream. There is a path which goes to the north of the first knoll, and then as the gradient becomes steeper, continue up the ridge. Eventually the path fades away and the you are left to pick your way through the grass/scree mix up to Raudhamran. From here the relentless gradient continues for another 300 vertical metres but this time exclusivly across scree. At long last the gradient starts to ease, as the top 1945m is reached and almost 1000 metres has been gained.
From the top 1945m the approach to the Skardstind is across the much easier plateau of Drumhøi. This is a rolling, stable scree-covered surface which is easy to walk over and make a welcome change to the previous slog up Raudhamran. As the eastern edge of Drumhøi is approached, the view over glaciers to Galdhøpiggen unfolds, as does a stunning vista over the rest of the Jotunheimen. Continue west towards Skardstind where the plateau rises slightly to the highpoint of 2291m. From here continue west dropping down into a narrowing arête that leads over to the summit ridge of Skardstind. The arête itself is only about 150 m long and quite straightforward, however the far end of it blocked up a steep 30 metre crag. This crag is the crux of the day.
The crag itself is quite easy climbing at grade III, and this only for a short distance. However the exposure of the climb is terrific and rope and climbing experience is desirable. The route goes straight up the spur of the crag. There are a number of wide shelves and plenty of scope for protection. This crag can be avoided on the south side by traversing across a bowl of recently broken and occasionally loose rock. This traverse is about 50 metres from the base of the crag to the bottom of a small ridge. Crossing over the bottom of this small ridge there is a open gully which can be scrambled up to gain a more prominent ridge which leads onto the main summit ridge above the 30 m crag. This bowl and the open gully may well be filled with 40-45 degree snow early in the summer.
From the top of the 30m crag the main west ridge continues up along the wide arête for 1/3 km over a slight rise to the bottom of the first of three 20m crags. Each of these three crags involves some demanding, but enjoyable scrambling. Climbing skills are not essential on these three crags and there is a margin of exposure but nothing in comparison to the first 30m crag. Again it is possible to avoid these crags by traversing them on the south side across 35 degree scree slopes which will be snow covered until at least mid July. There is really no need for these awkward traverses to bypass the three interesting crags. From the top of the third 20m crag there is a further 1/3 km over the easy arête to the cream summit of Skardstind, with a view that probably exceeds the famous view of Surtningssui.
From the top of Skardstind it is only a short distance to the remarkable Nåla. Head south east down the easy arête for ½ km you reach the saddle with the Nåla. From this saddle a wide spiral shelf on the east side can be followed all the way to the top, which is only 25 metres. This spiral shelf is wide and has no exposure at all.
The return is by the same route. The top three crags can be abseiled quite easily and anchor points are plentiful. It is also preferable to abseil the lower 30 metre crag rather than down climb the open gully and traverse the messy bowl. Again, there are good anchor points for this fourth and last abseil. It is possible to get by with a 50m rope for the last abseil but a 60m rope is preferable.