Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter

AreasVisbretind MassifWalking Routes › Vi.2

Vi.2 Leirvassbu Lodge to Gjendebu lodge via Semelholet
8 hours / 23km
630m / 1050m
Unmarked and challenging path for experienced parties only. Not suitable for winter and spring due to avalanche danger.

From Leirvassbu lodge head along the path Vi.1 for 1½ hours through Kyrkjeglupen to the watershed with Visdalen. Continue past the watershed on the marked path for another ¼ hour making the short gradual descent into a grassy bowl on the valley floor.

Leave the marked path here before it crosses the glacial stream flowing from the Visbreen glacier and head east across the tundra soon reaching and easily crossing this same glacial stream. Once over the stream sidle round the bottom of the craggy north ridge of Semelholstind gently climbing stony tundra for a km until you reach another stream coming out of Semelholstjørni lake.

Cross this stream and head up the east side of it where the terrain is less stony to the outflow, some 2½ hours after leaving Leirvassbu lodge. Then follow the rocky east shore of the lake for 1½ km to it southern end then continue south across moraine to towards the foot of a small glacier. Once at the glacier head east on the apex of a rocky spur. Head up the boulders and occasional bare slab of this spur for ¼ hour until it get steeper. Clamber up the final outcrops for 10 minutes to gain the saddle just to the north of the small tarn at about 1870m. It take about 3½ hours to reach this tarn from Leirvassbu lodge.

There is a fantastic view south from this saddle to the Gjende Alps. In the spring this section up the ridge is may be avalanche prone and there is sometimes a cornice at the top. From the tarn head east for 300 metres until you are over the pass and above a snowfield. Continue eastwards across the snowfield while descending at the same time to reach the crest of the south east ridge of Midtre Urdadalstind.

Descend the crest of this pleasant ridge weaving down grassy flower filled shelves between rounded outcrops for ½ hour until you reach the outflow from the tarn 1618m where you intercept the marked path Me.2 between Gjendebu and Spiterstulen lodges. Follow this path south immediately crossing the wide shallow stream on stones to the east side of the valley.

For the next 2 km the path follows east shore of two adjacent lakes over a relentless boulderfield until the path rises slightly over a gentle spur and then reaches shallow lip. The view from the lip is down an idyllic grassy valley with just a peppering of stones. Some 3 km down this valley Hellertjørni lake shimmers under the alpine bulk of Slettmarkhø and its huge glacier.

Saunter down this valley for ½ hour until you reach the marked path Ra.2 between Leirvassbu and Gjendebu lodges well before Hellertjørni lake. Take the fork which continues south down the main valley for a km to the picturesque Hellertjørnet lake. Walk around the east side of the lake for a km. At the outlet of the lake the path traverses down a small step with the magnificent 25 metre Hellerfossen waterfall cascading down beside you.

At the bottom of the waterfall and cascade the path meets the larger Semelåi stream which is crossed on a bridge placed every summer. If it is not in place stream must be jumped or waded. After the Semelåi stream you reach the flat level fertile Storådalen valley floor. It is a utter joy to descend the north side of this valley for the 7 km to Gjendebu lodge.

The first 2 km is across grass and tundra until you get to the small, locked and private Storådalsbue cabin. Just after this cabin there is a junction with the marked path Me.5 to Memurubu lodge which goes up the slope to the east. Continue down the open valley and soon enter the upper reaches of the birch forest.

As you saunter through this idyllic flower-filled forest there are stunning views to the glacier clad slopes of the Gjende Alps south of Gjende lake. It is a pleasant and easy 1½ hours from Storådalsbue hut to Gjendebu lodge.