Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter

AreasBreheimen › 15.5 Tverrådalskyrkja (2088m)

Tverrådalskyrkja, 2088m, lies in the middle of Breheimen, south of the very scenic Sota sæter lodge at the end of Bråtådalen valley. From Sota sæter lodge Tverrådalskyrkja dominates the southern horizon as its soaring shape looms over the pine forests. It is surrounded on three sides by a glacier and the fourth side is guarded by a very steep arête. It is a very fine mountain indeed and the ascent is interesting, picturesque and entertaining.

The Route from Sota Sæter
total distance for return trip24km   
total ascent and descent1460m   
total time for return journey 8-9hrs
difficulty rating - 7season: jul, aug, septno skiingpartial/difficult glacier crossingno climbingnot suitable for wet conditions

Leave Sota sæter and walk west up the road for 200m, where a path leads off to the south. Take this path through the pine forests heading up the hill for just under a km when the path divides. The main path continues directly south east up the hill. Do not take this path, but take the path that heads south west and traverses across the hill side. Continue this ascending traverse along the path for another three km, the first km through birch forest and the last two km across open hillside.

From Sota sæter to the north, Tverrådalskyrkja is an imposing mountainSoon the marked path veers south and enters a flatter valley with some small lakes. About 500m after the first lake the path divides with a branch heading south up the side of the valley, and the other continuing south west beside the river in Tverrådalen valley. Do nor follow the route up the valley but instead climb the valley side and after a km emerge onto a flatter plateau covered with bare rock slabs and moraine.

Continue south across this landscape of bare rock plates and some moraine for another two km crossing a small stream without difficulty while heading for the bottom of a ridge that come down from the west under the craggy buttress on the north ridge. This ridge is boulder moraine and spells the end of the pleasant bare rock plates.

Round the east side of this ridge and you should arrive at the north end of the small Styggvatnet lake, 1407 metres. Pass this lake on the west side, crossing the moraine debris until you arrive at the south end where the glacial river flows in. Follow this small river up heading directly south until you reach the edge of the Fortundalsbreen glacier at about 1500 metres elevation.

From a distance to the north, Tverrådalskyrkja stands out clearlyThis glacier, and the one that descends almost as an icefall from the top of Tverrådalskyrkja, have shrunk considerably in the last 20 years and are now separated by jumbled moraine and a line of crags. Follow the main glacier south for about one km keeping a safe distance from the unstable jumbled moraine, and crags at the bottom of this icefall. This snout section of Fortundalsbreen glacier does not have any crevasses but does have surface streams which have carved deep chasms in the ice and then descend down icy wells (moulins). These chasms and wells, are dangerous and care should be taken while crossing this area. Never-the-less if one keeps to the west (but still a safe distance from the loose crags) and has significant glacial experience this km crossing could be undertaken alone without rope, especially later in the summer season when the ice is bare.

Continue south passing the loose crags at the bottom of the east ridge until the crags start to disappear, then head to the western edge of the glacier and, being aware of any possible ice overhangs and bergschrunds, which are usually minimal here, gain the bare rock at the east of the west ridge. Do not continue further up the glacier much beyond the end of the crags as crevasses start to appear.

Looking from the Fortundalsbreen glacier up the east ridge to the summitThe east ridge of Tverrådalskyrkja is quite steep, but is composed largely of rough bare rock, with minimal scree, and is pleasant to ascend. The first 50 metres are steep but this soon eases off into a sustained ascent up the ridge to the south of the smaller glacier. Towards the top of the ridge the gradient steepens again but is less than 45 degrees and the rock is broken into large steps giving some easy enjoyable scrambling.

The summit, which is remarkably airy, is at the top of this ridge. From the summit there are outstanding views to the west over the more glaciated half of Breheimen, culminating in the vast Jostedalsbreen glacier and Lodalskåpa protruding steeply out of it.

To the south-west of the summit a sharp ridge extends for a km to the peak of Søre Tverrådalskyrkja and to another peak, SV for Fortundalsbreen, a km to the south beyond that on the widening ridge. The return is by the same route or by one of the alternatives briefly described above.