After a strenuous 24 hours non-stop drive from Switzerland to Norway, followed by a rest day in Oslo, I went to Jotunheimen aiming to climb Urdanostinden (2157m). During the day I ended up climbing seven summits in one day, far more than my initial plan. I had no anticipation that this was going to be one of my best days ever in Jotunheimen, when I woke up in the morning on what appeared to be a cloudy day.
Sleeping at Tyin
I arrived Tyin late in the evening 27th of July 2004, and decided to sleep in my car. Some few hours later I woke up, but I decided to stay in my warm sleeping bag, waiting for the weather to improve. One hour later I had breakfast and drove the last few kilometres to the trailhead in Koldedalen. By then most of the fog/clouds had vanished and I was eagerly looking forward to a beautiful and sunny day in the mountains.
I climbed solo this day, and thus it was out of the question to take the normal route to Urdanostinden on the crevassed glacier. Instead I opted for the south ridge of Urdanostinden, a grade III climb that doesn’t involve any glacier crossings at all.
I started to walk at 10:00 following some other people. Later I found out that these people (at least 2 of them) were extreme skiers aiming for the east face of Urdanostinden. After half an hour I noticed that I had taken a trail on the wrong side of the river. After a lot of frustration I finally found a feasible crossing in the ice-cold river.
The two first summits of the day, Urdanostinden S-2 and S-1, were easy scrambling on a beautiful ridge. From there the difficulties increased, but I never felt any need to grab the rope from my backpack. The most exposed section (crux) was a slab on a knife-edge ridge, barely a centimetre or two wide with steep drop-off to a certain death on the eastside. Slowly I started to traverse the slab on the right hand side with my fingers grabbing the knife-edge ridge. One slip here would be fatal, but I decided to move without any belays mainly because of the dry conditions. In wet conditions, however, I would never have done this pitch without a rope.
The last few metres to the summit of Urdanostinden (2157m) were easy scrambling, and I really enjoyed the stunning views in all directions, especially to the south, high above Lake Tyin. My initial plan was then to descend the same route, but when I saw all the “easy” accessible peaks popping up from the huge glacier, I was tempted to move on. I also felt it was too early to make a return at 13:30 on such a beautiful day.
Slingsbytinden, Sagi and Mjølkedalspiggen
I continued to hike on the easy ridge and I reached the summit of Slingsbytinden (2026m) approx half an hour later. Then I retraced my steps down the ridge to access the glacier. First I considered whether it was safe to walk alone on the glacier, and when I had figured out a relatively safe glacier crossing I opted for the summit of Sagi. The final ridge to Sagi was steep but I did not encounter any difficulties or dangers except from loose rocks. I reached the south summit at 16:05. I was also tempted to move on to the north summit, but I decided that it was too late in the day. Besides I had already pointed out a couple of other peaks to ascend as well.
The ridge between Sagi S and Mjølkedalspiggen was easy going except from the last few metres to the summit of the latter one, a vertical step of grade II. I guess many people would prefer a rope here, but I opted for the fast way (e.g. without a rope) and made the summit at 17:00.
Once more I started to retrace my steps, descending to the Mjølkedals glacier, which I arrived at 17:30. I felt utterly alone and not very confident when I plodded along on the glacier trying to figure out a safe route late in the day. I was not very concerned about crevasses in the flat glacier, but I was very anxious about potential water holes hiding underneath the soft surface.I had to cross this glacier, on my way to Langeskavlstinden (left). I very much dislike to walk alone on a glacier, especially late in the day.... I just hate these stressful moments alone on a glacier, often questioning myself why I’m here, rather than relaxing on a safe beach in the lowlands. But I never seem to find any reasonable answers to this question.
Anyway I reached safe ground after half an hour in anxiousness on the glacier, and immediately started to scramble up the ridge to the summit of Langeskavlstinden (2014m). Finally I stood on the 7th and last summit of the day at 18:30. From there I had excellent view of the east face of Urdanostinden, and I even observed two brave guys skiing down the 50-degree ice-face. I would say a rather foolish act because of the exposed rock band that has to be circumvented half way down.
Descending to Koldedalen felt like a never-ending journey on rotten snow and dirty moraines. I walked rather slowly, had a lot of short breaks, and I did not return to my car before 21:30, almost 12 hours continuously on the run.
Here is the entire list of the mountains I accomplished this day:
- Urdanostinden S-2 (2048m)
- Urdanostinden S-1 (2037m)
- Urdanostinden (2157m)
- Slingsbytinden (2026m)
- Sagi S (2040m)
- Mjølkedalspiggen (2040m)
- Langeskavlstinden (2014m)