Memuru Veo Massif

Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter

AreasMemuru Veo Massif › 11.9 Semeltind (2236m)

Semeltinden, 2236 m, rises as a huge pyramid at the east end of Langvatnet in the very middle of Jotunheimen. Together with its neighbour, Visbretind, it completely dominates the north side of the valley and lake. The north, west and south sides of the mountain are largely composed of steep scree and craggy outcrops, while the east side is predominantly steep cliffs and the Semelbreen glacier. This glacier flows into the lake, Semelbretjörni, where it calves large icebergs, which except for middle and late summer when they can drift, are embedded in the sheet of ice that covers the lake for most of the year.

This lake must have been about 5 metres higher until quite recently when a dam, undoubtedly caused by the Semelbreen glacier, melted away and allowed the water to pass out. Evidence of this can be seen as a sharp contour, about 5 vertical metres above the surface, round the lake where there is only extremely recent lichen growth compared to the more established older growths above this. This contour is only really discernable when viewed from high above the lake.

The Route from Spiterstulen Lodge
total distance for return trip28km   
total ascent and descent1320m   
total time for return journey 9-11hrs
difficulty rating - 7season: jul, aug, septno skiingno glacier crossingno climbingnot suitable for wet conditions

From Spiterstulen head south up the wide arterial Visdalen valley keeping about 200m to the east of the river. The path crosses some small streams after 2 to 3 km, then arrives at the glacial torrent of the Heillstuguåi stream which is now bridged in two places. Cross these bridges and continue along the east side of the Visa River for another 2 ½ km until the path forks. Take the south fork which gently climbs out of the main valley towards the mouth of the Urdadalen valley passing to the east of a small gorge. After a further 2 km you will now be in Urdadalen valley itself and the gentle gradient become even more gentle as it continues south across mixed flat areas of softer ground and boulder fields. The boulder fields become more prominent as you head south to the first lake. From here camping possibilities become very limited and uncomfortable for the next 5 km so if you intend to camp it is best to seek a site before the most northerly lake. Continue south up the Urdadalen valley passing 2 lakes on the east side and then start to climb large smooth slabs of rock to reach the pass of Urdadalsbandet. From the pass descend down to the most northerly of the southern 3 lakes which is passed on the west side. At the outflow of this lake cross the stream to gain the bottom of the north ridge. There is a small but uninviting campsite here.

From the outflow of the lake 1618m, start up the north ridge which initially consists of large rounded slabs of smooth, recently exposed rock. A long strip of glacier will be on the left. All too quickly these pleasant slabs start to get interspersed with scree and boulders and the going becomes steeper. After 300 vertical metres from the lake the slabs disappear altogether and the terrain of unforgiving boulders becomes much steeper again. These steep boulders continue from here for another 300m all the way to the top. The top is marked by a huge cairn and has a substantial bivouac stone circle. Being pretty much in the centre of Jotunheimen there is a spectacular view in all directions, especially to the west where peaks soar above their glaciated cirques until the horizon is reached. From the top it is quite clear to see how the glacial lake has dropped in height, as the glacier retreated.

On the descent the same steep boulders have to be negotiated for 300 vertical metres. At this stage the gradient of the glacier/snowfield becomes much shallower and its western edge can be followed down to almost the lake. There are no crevasses but towards the bottom of the glacier, surface rivers have gouged out deep slots and there is also the occasional well in the ice.