|Søre Sætretind from
|Estimated net time||8-12 hours|
There are several difficulties associated
with this hike. The two most obvious difficulties are the glacier
crossing and the summit climb, which both requires the use of a rope.
In addition to the above one might need to use a rope also from the glacier and up to the final climb, at least on wet days.
The north-west ridge, from 1300 metres and up, has continuous scrambling, and a rope should be considered. The only technically difficult section is a four metres climb just below the summit.
|Drinking water||There are several sources of running water below the glacier.|
|GSM coverage||A number of patchy sections (August 2012).|
|Parking||There's room for several cars at the top of the road in Fladalen.|
|Start height||470 metres|
|Vertical metres||970 metres for the roundtrip.|
|Trip distance||6.2 km|
Søre Sætretind trail head at top of service road in Fladalen.
From Ålesund drive road E39 south towards Bergen, and get the ferry from Solevåg to Festøy. At Festøy turn left, following signs for "Standal", and drive approximately 18.5 km from the ferry port, through the small communities at Ytre-Standal and Standal, and up into Standaldalen valley, to where a gravel road goes right from the main road. This is approximately 4.3 km after the river crossing at Standal, and 900 metres after the second of the two right hair-pin bends. Drive this road a little more than 100 metres and turn left across a small bridge. From the bridge drive approximately 1.3 km and park at the end of the road.
From the car park walk uphill a few metres, to the very end of the road, and then continue on path into the valley Fladalen. After 6-700 metres leave the path and turn left, along the right (north) side of the two main streams coming down from the glacier. When you get up to a small lake at 910 metres, pass it on the left (south) side, and continue south-west for a couple of hundred metres, before turning a little right and heading west towards the glacier. You should aim for the centre of the glacier, where it is at its most narrow, and where there's least likely to be crevasses.
When you reach the glacier you need to put on crampons and get the the ice axe down from your back pack, and you should rope up. Continue straight uphill (west), and then turn left (south) at 1200 metres. You should now aim for the foot of the big ledge coming down from Søre Sætretind's north slopes. At the end of the glacier, at the foot of the ledge, you're likely to be faced with a serious gap between the glacier and the mountain. If there are no snow bridges you need to be extremely careful so you make sure you don't fall into the deep gap. But you're most likely to find a snow bridge, unless you hike late in the season, but of course need to evaluate the quality of the snow bridge. Once on solid rock continue uphill on the easiest route, which requires some scrambling. After the initial scrambling you get to the ledge itself, and you need to consider whether to use a rope or not, depending on the conditions (wet or dry).
At the end of the ledge you're faced with a slightly more technical scramble, to get up the less than two metres high wall. From here you have moss clad and slippery slopes up to 1300 metres, and you should seriously consider using a rope if it's wet. From the small saddle at 1310 metres, at Søre Sætretind's north ridge, the route generally follows the ridge towards the summit. There are several sections requiring scrambling, and some with exposure, and then a four metres climb a few metres below the summit, with poor hand holds.
Descend by reversing your ascent route.
19. August 2012
After our failed attempt at Søre Sætretind last year it was definitely high on my list to have a successful climb of this fine mountain in 2012. We were in total eight hikers meeting at the top of the road in Fladalen (from 2012 it's possible to drive the road all the way up); Hilde, Jon Andre, Karl Egil, Per Børge, Sigbjørn, Synneve, Synnøve, Torgeir. The guides were the same as last year, Jon André and Per Børge, and two of last year's hikers had a go also this year; Torgeir and me. There was also another team starting at the same time as us, but for some reason we moved uphill quicker than them, and we later found out they had struggled with the navigation and had abandoned the hike. And navigation definitely was an issue since there was thick fog above 8-900 metres.
The ledge above the glacier was just as miserable as last year, with wet rock and lichen, and hence we used ropes all the way from the glacier to the summit. But having started earlier than last year we were confident we wouldn't run out of time this year.
When the climbing started on the north-west ridge we tried to move a little in parallel, with Jon André climbing ahead and setting up the rope, while the rest of us were still on the lower rope. This saved us some time, but still we spent a lot of time before we managed to get all eight to the summit.
At the summit we basically had no views to surrounding mountains, so we didn't hang around long. However, Synnøve took the time to put on high-heel shoes she had brought, and posed at the summit in footwear not suitable for a climb to Søre Sætretind.
Back at the glacier the fog lifted a little, but we never got a view of the summit this year. And adding to the fact that I don't have any proper photos of the fine views from the summit I might be tempted to have another go at this top, but then definitely in fine weather and with dry rock along the ledge.
27. August 2011
Before the summer of 2011 I had three hikes hard planned in my calendar; Ben Lawers 1st June, Store Brekketind 10th July, and Søre Sætretind 27th August. Of these Ben Lawers was completed on a beautiful day two days later than originally planned, Store Brekketind was cancelled by the organisers, and today it was time to attempt Søre Sætretind. When I talked with guide Jon André the night before he was a bit unsure whether to attempt Søre or Nordre Sætretind, since the weather forecast for this Saturday was a bit poor, but since I hadn't been to either I would still join even if we had to settle for Nordre. But a decision was to be made as late as possible into the hike.
Four of us met at the ferry port at Solevåg and drove up to trail head in two cars. This included Jon André (our guide for the day), the "assistant" guide Per Børge, Torgeir and myself. At trail head we met Lars, who had arrived a little before us, and arriving some 15 minutes after us were Andreas, Eivind and Ståle. They had missed the exit up towards Fladalen and had been waiting for us further up into Standaldalen, but a quick call sorted the confusion. When the latter three arrived trail head we got a little surprise as the two youngsters (Andreas and Eivind) seemed to be very poorly prepared, with one of them having asphalt running shoes, and they had no proper back pack. They were therefore told that they might have to turn around at some stage.
We set out at 10:35 and kept a good pace up Fladalen, and the weather was good enough for us to decide on Søre Sætretind. Based on Jon André's experiences from a couple of weeks earlier we chose a route a bit north of Søre Sætretind as opposed to crossing the glacier in the southern part, which had a lot of crevasses. When we got to the north area of the part of the glacier close to Søre Sætretind we stopped for a proper break; we had some food, discussed the route ahead, and put on gear required for a glacier crossing. And finally we made the ultimate decision to go for Søre Sætretind and not Nordre.
The glacier crossing was without any incidents, thanks to our guide choosing a route which solely crossed snow as opposed to blue ice. Our only focus was to make sure we had the right distance between each of us. But a glacier crossing has more challenges than just crossing the glacier; you also need to get back on solid rock. During summer this gets increasingly more challenging as the gap between glacier and rock gets wider, but for us it was no problem since there was a small snow bridge we could use to cross. But this snow bridge was enjoying its last few days of life, and was narrow and thin enough to ensure we were well focused when we let one person cross at a time.
When all eight had crossed the snow bridge and were on solid rock, it was time to remove crampons and start preparing for the next leg of the hike. After inspecting the first part of the rock climb we agreed to proceed without using ropes, but already after a few tens of vertical metres we decided to continue roped on the wet and slippery rock. Jon André informed us that when he did this hike a couple of weeks earlier there was no need for a rope up along the ledge we were now on, but today the conditions were quite different. And things didn't change to the better when it started to rain! We therefore used a rope up to the ledge and yet again along the wide ledge. From here we had to do a couple of climbing moved in order to get up to the moss clad north slopes of Søre Sætretind. These slopes don't require the use of a rope on a dry day, but today was definitely not a dry one, so we had to rope up. These slopes required two lengths of rope, before we found ourselves at the north-west ridge approximately 50 metres below the summit. Our extensive usage of ropes had consumed a lot of time, in particular because several of the team were without any experience at all about climbing. But we had avoided any kind of injuries, and all of us were still fit for fight.
From our location 50 metres below the summit of Søre Sætretind, we were all motivated for the last length of rope, and the only real climbing on a dry day. It was then that our guides showed more soberness than e.g. a single minded person like myself, and mentioned that it might be a good idea to consider our options in terms of time. Per Børge went as far as saying that if we took on the summit climb we were not likely to get back down to the car before it got dark. I don't think anyone took his advice seriously at first, but when we started to estimate the time consumption for each element of the rest of the hike we soon figured out that we would be pushing it. At the end it showed us that an optimistic plan would mean we would be back down by the cars well after darkness. Hence we made the less than popular decision to start the descent. Personally I was not happy there and then, and I started an internal process of finding who or what to blame. Not terribly constructive, but I was seriously disappointed.
Despite the set-back we were all motivated to help each other and gain as much experience as possible, and we started the descent down the moss clad slopes. This was time consuming and made it clear to everyone, myself included, that the decision to start the descent was the correct one. After two rope lengths down the north slopes, and then another three down to the glacier, including a lot of rock fall caused by the rope disturbing loose rocks the size of oranges, we were ready to put the crampons back on. Crossing the snow bridge required the same focus as earlier in the day, but no issues except the fact that time seemed to be on steroids, and the fact that there was thick fog drifting in from Fladalen. The fog didn't cause any issues for the glacier crossing since we were able to follow our tracks from the ascent, but when we started down towards Fladalen the fog was thick as porridge and all we really knew was that we should continue down-hill. In situations like this one should use the map and compass, and in the 21st century these well know tools are often supported by an electronic device called a GPS. So we checked one of our GPSs, and made the required corrections to our direction. Down in Fladalen the fog lifted a little, but by now it was starting to get dark. And by the time we got back to our cars it was pitch dark.
We got back to the cars as one team, and throughout the hike we had worked well together, and everyone was fairly happy with the long day out despite the fact that we missed the icing on the cake. When I drove back to Festøy together with Torgeir we talked about the day, and there was a fair bit of less printable words being used to describe how we felt about the fact that we didn't reach the summit. But already during the ferry crossing we were starting to focus more on the positive experiences of the day, and indeed the fact that we were still able to look forward to hike Søre Sætretind.
As a post script, I would like to thank ÅST and Patchell Fjellsport for a well organised tour, and would indeed like to join these guys also on future hikes.