Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter
Hestdalshøgdi, 2091 metres, lies in the relatively rounded tracts of land between Bøverdalen (the Bøver Valley) in the south and the upper Ottadalen (The Otta Valley) in the north. This tract is penetrated from the upper Ottadalen in the north by three further valleys, namely Lundadalen (The Lunda Valley), Tundradalen (The Tundra Valley) and Bråtådalen (The Bråtå Valley). In the middle of this tract, between Lundadalen and Tundradalen, lies a long undulating glaciated ridge with three 2000 metre mountains on it. At the east end of this ridge it culminates with the mountain of Hestdalshøgdi. On the gentle flanks of Hestdalshøgdi a patchwork of small glaciers and snowfields are scattered about the scree slopes and moraine debris from these same, but now diminished, glaciers. The mountain is rich in mountain wildlife, possibly due to the vegetative high valleys and plateaus that surround it.
|The Route from Heimste Lundadalssætri|
If walking in the summer leave Heimste Lundadalssætri and cross the bridge over the River Skjøli to the forested east bank. Follow the marked path here for two km until it crosses the River Skjøli again. Here the path climbs for 50 metres before levelling out. When it levels out leave the path and continue to climb the moraine ridge for another 250 vertical metres making for a small saddle to the south of the cliffs and gorge through which the Grjotåi stream tumbles. There is no real path up this ridge but the gradient is not too steep and the vegetation is short. At the top of this climb the gradient eases off and the small saddle leads onto a wide open valley, whose wild, arctic splendour is hidden from the main valley below.
During spring a ski ascent is a fantastic option. If, as is the case in late May, it has been possible to drive to Heimste Lundadalssætri then the price to pay is very patchy snow for the next two km. Do not cross the bridge and follow the summer route described above, as deep snow drifts in the forest will have to be waded through. Instead continue along the west bank of the River Skjøli, probably on foot, to the Grjotåi stream. Cross this stream and start heading up the ridge described above. Continue up this ridge and as the saddle approaches, and as the bare exposed vegetation on the ridge becomes snow-covered, put on skis.
The climb up to the saddle is the only real exertion of the day, and even it is tame and should only take a half hour from the River Skjøli. From here you can look forward to gentle gradients in an arctic atmosphere of high undulating tundra. It is ideal for walking or skiing and the unfolding views tend to draw you up the ridge in expectation of yet more. Do not follow the Grjotåi stream westwards up the main valley, but follow the smaller stream to the southwest towards a great shallow ramp with a sharp drop on the north side of it. The route goes past a small lake at 1435 metres and then starts up the ramp keeping to the north side of it, before then heading west along the top of the drop. The ramp narrows slightly to form a smooth ridge which climbs gently for a further two km until the rounded top of 1931 metres is reached. From here there are unsurpassed views of Hestbrepigg and all its satellite peaks across Lundadalen.
From top 1931 metres there is an almost indiscernible descent to the west across the small stable scree and then very gentle climb to top 1978 metres one km away. This delightful walk is further enhanced by an ever unfolding vista to the west. From top 1978 metres there is another gentle descent to another saddle and then an almost flat ascent to the base of the summit ridge for a further two km. To the north of this pleasant ridge is a steep drop down to Grjotåbreen (the Grjotå Glacier). The three km of this high scree covered ridge gradually undulating at 1950 metres is quite exceptional in its ease combined with stunning views, and is some of the most inspiring skiing I have had in Scandinavia.
From the base of the summit ridge there is a short easy ascent westwards up the ridge. In the summer the scree strip can be followed but on a spring ski ascent the glacier on the gentle south flank of the ridge can be used to get all the way to the summit on skis. On reaching the summit the full scale of the view to the west over Breheimen suddenly bursts into view. Huge glaciers cover vast areas with spectacular mountains like Holåtind, Tverråalskyrkja and Lodalskåpa proudly protruding from them.
The return is by the same route and in spring offers a wonderful ski descent. Alternatively, the ascent of Hestdalshøgdi could be combined with a longer expedition including the ascent of Østre, Midtre, and possibly Vestre, Holåtind before staying overnight at the scenic and well positioned Trulsbu cabin. If this longer expedition has been planned, which involves crossing substantial glaciers, then descend down the gentle southwest ridge towards Holåbreen (the Holå Glacier) some 6 km to the southwest.