Just back from the best tour of our short trip to Norway so far.
Today’s objective was a circular tour on the North side of a small lake – Storeskardvatnet, a short drive north-west of Hemsedal. Our route would hopefully take in the small peaks of Steinbunose and Storeskardnosene.
It was a magical morning when we left the car. Not quite so cold (only -16c) but with a warm glow of sunlight flooding the valley. We followed an existing skinning track north-eastwards, zig-zagging our way through soft, powdery snow up to around 1100 metres.
From here we turned north-west and began the short climb onto the summit of Steinbunose. A broken summit with numerous outlying satellite peaks.
Today was the first day where we appeared to be making good time, but we pressed on, mindful of the increasing atmospheric haze. The snow was less stable on these scoured and east / south-east facing slopes, occasional whopping noises and crack lines appearing. Thankfully the gradient was not too steep. But it was a reminder of a rapidly changing snow-pack and served as a useful note of caution.
From the summit we dropped down through patches of scoured ice and ribs of windslab before we picked a circular line northwards around west facing slopes towards Storeskardnosene. The snow here was better, softer with little in the way of windslab. But the wind was keen, biting into my exposed face, as shards of diamond-dust twinkled in the weak sunshine, signifying the set of a weak weather front which was bringing increasingly hazy skies to the west.
The view from the summit matched anything we had seen on previous days. Even as thin clouds began to obscure distant summits, the vista was wide with far reaching views across to Hydalsberget and its jagged band of cliffs. One wonders how much unexplored or rarely frequented climbing there must be here in Norway, such is the vastness of this relatively empty landscape.
From the summit, our line of sight was initially obscured, the broken and rocky terrain hiding any obvious ski descent. We retraced our route back westwards for a few hundred metres before taking a chance and heading south. The skins came off, we locked in our ski’s and set off, ready to do battle through windslab. We on,y contemplated this because of the nature of the terrain and depth of snow-pack. It was a revelation. The snow was forgiving, yes we scraped over a few rocks but it was worth it as we swooshed down.
We bottomed out in a high hanging valley, a few hundred metres of sliding before another great descent through dappled birch woodland and a great powder. A great end to a another great day in Norway.