Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter
Areas › Dovrefjell › Detailed Information
Dovrefjell is a mountainous to the north of Jotunheimen and Rondane. It boasts six mountains and a further five secondary peaks over 2000 metres. The mountains are located in the east of a huge tract of land between Romsdalen and Sunndalen on the fjords and extending eastwards to Drivdalen, which lies inland of the main Scandinavia watershed on the high moorland tundra landscape. This area was made into a huge national park very recently called Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella.
Dovrefjell is characterized by huge mountains rising out of the surrounding tundra. These mountains are separated by deep valleys where glaciers have ripped into the rounded massifs creating sharp ridges arêtes and pinnacles of rock. There are still a few glaciers at work here shaping future ridges. Many of these deep valleys contain lakes.
The area is rich in wildlife, with a wide variety of flora and birds. A marshy area to the south east of the massif, called Fokstumyra, is renouned for birdlife. Dovrefjell is also home to an expanding herd of musk oxen, which were introduced here in the late 1940's from Greenland and now number some 250 animals. Dovrefjell is also home to one of the last herds of truly wild reindeer in Scandinavia with about 2000 animals. There are also 20-30 elusive wolverines in Dovrefjell, which is their last stronghold in southern Scandinavia.
Dovrefjell enjoys a climate that is not solely dominated by maritime influences and Atlantic low pressure fronts but is also influenced by the drier continental conditions of central Scandinavia. As a rule therefore rainfall is much lower than in west Jotunheimen and temperatures vary to greater extremes.
In the winter it can get down to -30 Celsius, while in the summer it can get up to +30 Celsius. Spring can be an excellent time to visit with some superb ski-touring. Larstind, and to a lesser extent Bruri, are not advised as spring ascents though due to the avalanche risk and technical difficulties involved involved.
Military Training Ground
To the south east of Dovrefjell there is a military training ground called the Hjerkinn skytefelt. This training ground is being moved to another location and the whole area is being re-naturalized. Presently there are a number of gravel tracks in the area used for access, most notably an unlocked, but private,15 ish km track up to the parking place on the edge of the national park which is 2 km east of the disused and boarded up Snøheim lodge, and also a locked 35 ish km loop track. Both these track are operated and maintained by the military. It is possible to obtain a key at the military HQ in Hjerkinn for the locked loop track drive to Grøndalen for easier access for Skredahøin.
In the near future is likely that as the military withdraw the 35 ish km loop track and its bridges will be erased and the landscape returned to its natural state. It is not yet known if the 15 ish km track from Hjerkinn to near Snøheim will be preserved or erased. In addition it is likely that DNT will take over the abandoned Snøheim again and return it to a serviced lodge.
Historically Dovrefjell, like the adjacent Rondane and Reinheimen, has been associated with reindeer hunting and this goes back millennia to the stone ages when pit traps were used until the modern day when licences are granted for felling wild reindeer in a short hunting season in the late summer.
Dovrefjell lies on a historic route north from Gudbrandsdalen valley to the historic town of Trondheim. For centuries traders, administrators, pilgrims and even royalty have plied the route and all have gazed across the plateau to the massive bulk of Snøhetta. Consequently it has permeated Norwegian culture and folklore. It was once considered to be the highest mountain in Norway and was first climbed as long ago as 1798.
Starting points for trips into Dovrefjell are primarily centred on the gravel road to Snøheim. This private road is owned, maintained and cleared by the military and it is possible to use it if there is no military activity and a boom toll is paid. There is rarely any military activity here now but the road is often blocked in by snow in the spring. From along this road, or at its end, the cabins of Reinheim and Åmotdalshytta are accessible and halve of the mountains in the massif are within a days striking distance.
Other access points Kongsvoll lodge and Engan station both on the year long open E6 main road and railway between Oslo and Trondheim. These access points are good in the winter/spring for ski tours and in the summer for walking tours. To the north, west and south of the massif are a network of walking and skiing routes which also could be used to access the massif but it would take a day or two to reach the 2000 mountains.