Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Grøndalsvatni - Hårteigen - Litlos

Massiv day 3.
Distance: 20.9km (67.4km), time spent: 8:14 (23:33).
Ascent / descent: 721m (2324m) / 803m (2121m).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 1273m / 1192m / 1690m.
Weather: Changing between sunny and overcast.


To erect a tent next to a running river, could be an invitation for moist to come on an unwanted visit. There were no rain in the night, but even so, the tent is wet from condensation when I wake up in the morning. The prospects for a climb to the summit is not entirely bright, a quick look outside the tent, reveals a layer of clouds around Grøndalsvatni. It is chilly outside, I eat my breakfast inside the tent today as well. Today, my plan is to walk to Hårteigen, climb it, and then hike back to Litlos. My food supply dictates that it is necessary for me to spend two nights at a cabin.

River crossing at Grøndalsvatni, an easy crossing if you carry a light backpack, more difficult with a heavier one. My campsite was on the other side.

Oh lord, how my backpack weighs too much, I did not want to know how much, so I did not weigh it before I left home. The backpack does not get any lighter due to my tent has got wetter. Where the t-marked path crosses the outlet of the lake, you have to cross by walking on rocks, but some places it is too deep. With my heavy backpack, I do not take the chance on jumping, the additional weight will give me a nasty injury if I should miss. My feet get a refreshing start of the day.

The sun burning its way through the white and black dream-landscape at Grytevatnet.

My campsite was situated about midway between Litlos and Hårteigen, at the cabin they estimated roughly four hours to the peak. The two remaining hours to the foot of the mountain goes across a more and more sparse and rocky landscape, with elements of green and snow-dunes you have to cross. In the beginning, the clouds does not give way, but when I walk above Grytevatnet in a black and white dream-landscape, the contour of the sun is burning its way through the layers of clouds. Then below Grytenuten it clears, with a blue background that covers most of the sky. Above Hårteigen, there are only a few clouds drifting across. I can only go and hope that this is not the only window through the clouds during the day, if it is someone at the summit now, they have a good view.

The trail at the pass below Grytenuten. In the horizon, you can see a small glimpse of blue sky, next to it to the right lies the foot of Hårteigen, the summit enshrouded in clouds.

The scenery and the landmark becomes veiled again. I cross creeks and snow. And then Hårteigen is looming above me, it is hope. To get to the summit, you have to first climb up an area of scree consisting of large boulders, before you ascent through a steep hollow in the mountain. People I have talked to, said that it used to be a snowbank in the hollow before, which made it difficult sometimes to get up, but it is so reduced now that there are no problems. Ropes are attached to aid at the steepest part of the climb. After that, there is a very short section that may feel lofty for some. Next, you will follow a cool path that goes alongside the edge of the mountain, with great views, which leads to a passage that demands some easy scrambling with the aid of a wire. From there on and up, it is easy just to follow the cairns up to the summit. If the visibility is good, you will be rewarded all the way up.

Hårteigen. A lot of blue sky around, but the summit itself is partly veiled by clouds. You can see the cairn at the southern tip of the summit through the clouds.

I arrive at the top with a clear view to all sides, to a 360 degrees panorama of Hardangervidda. The girl I met on my way up, was not as lucky, she was at the summit while the clouds was still laying low. I feel unconceivable lucky, what better timing getting to the top at. Let go that it is not a totally clear blue sky, but the clouds encircling the mountain only make the view more dramatic. They alternate between being dark and light around, I can see rain here and there in the horizon, but here it is mostly sunny and a blue sky. Fantastic. Though, the wind packs some small punches.

On the way up Hårteigen next to a massive wall. Below you can see the path wind to and from the mountain. In the horizon lies Hardangervidda with the snow like white lakes spread across the landscape.

For a little while, I get the summit with the cairn all to myself. Can sit down and enjoy the view in solitude, like a small king on the hill, a small king on Hårteigen. Then the first hikers that comes from Torehytten begin appearing (with the exception of the aforementioned girl). First out is a Dutch father with his two sons. They told me that it had been completely full at Torehytten, people had to sleep everywhere. To get to the summit before a large group of scouts camping outside the cabin, they had started early. Twice earlier, they had walked past the mountain when there were no reason to climb up, now they were extremely pleased. I begin to hear voices coming from below.

View from the top of Hårteigen. To the left in the picture you can see Hardangerjøkulen.

When I first has climbed to the top and the views are great, I use the chance to explore the summit. Don't just go up and then down again right away. At the southern tip of the peak there is also a cairn, from it you can look steeply down at the mountainside and see the path far below that winds its way to and from the mountain. Most amusing is it to stand above the ravine and listen to the voices of the people on their way up, you can hear, but not see those that are on their way. Since there are so many climbing up, it takes longer time getting down again, there is a queue both ways at the wire and rope.

At the summit of Hårteigen, 1690m.

I had left my backpack behind at the foot of the mountain with a good reason, on the way up it felt as I was flying upwards. So light you feel without a backpack. With the sack on the back again, the gravity forces me to land. The route turns around and I walk again on the same path, but now with Hårteigen at my back. I did not try to look too much backwards when I walked to the mountain, so now it does feel a little bit like I go somewhere where I have not seen the view before. An all too late lunch is eaten in shelter for the wind next to Grytevatnet.

Hardangerjøkulen in the horizon. Dark rain clouds getting closer to the glacier from the east.

When I arrive at Litlos, almost too early to my liking, the weather is still nice (though there are some clouds). I consider just taking a break and then walk on, like yesterday, but I sink down in the recognition of staying put. Litlos is one of my favorites of the staffed cabins, it is nicely located above Litlosvatnet. It is also the cabin in northern Europe that is situated farthest away from a road, so you do feel being in a remote place staying here.

On the way down from Hårteigen, the path going alongside the edge after you have climbed up by the rope (or before if you are going down).

Yesterday, I was spying on the list of bookings for today, the list was quite long, it is going to be crowded at the cabin. The transition from being completely alone in my tent on the two previous evenings to sit inside a full living room at Litlos is quite big. Reindeer meat is served to dinner, to sleep over at a cabin is more costly, but the food is good and much, you get your fill. Outside it thickens, raindrops forms on the windows, perhaps it was good choice after all to stay here. In the evening, the lounge is filled by a quiet murmur of todays walks and where the journey continues. Litlos is a sort of a hub, here people are gathered, for then to be spread out in all directions again. I talk to some of the other visitors, play a card game together with a father and daughter that also are from Oslo.

A cold crossing over the outlet by Grøndalsvatni (for the second time today). I could probably have made it across with my boots on, but did not take the chance with my heavy backpack. The socks provides a better grip on the rocks, it does not help very much regarding the temperature of the water.

I was outside the grip of Massiv today, but tomorrow I will be back on the trail again. Of those recounting that they had to just walk past Hårteigen without climbing to the top, due to noe possibilities of a view from the summit, I feel incredibly lucky that I get to experience the top with a view in all directions.

Map of the trail for the third day on Massiv, from Grøndalsvatni to Hårteigen and then to Litlos

<- GrøndalsvatniReinsmyrtjørna ->

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