Sunnavindsnipa from Erstad


Estimated net time 6-8 hours
Difficulty In general the route is technically easy, but there is one section which requires concentration and the use of hands; there is a distinct gap along the north ridge, 500m before the summit. You have to descend into this gap on the right (west) side of the ridge. From the col find you way back up on ledges with loose gravel and some moss. When wet you should be very careful.
Drinking water Several sources of running water through Riksheimdalen.
GSM coverage Coverage throughout the route, but a little patchy through Riksheimdalen (September 2011).
Parking Room for a couple of cars at trail head, and room for more cars a little below trail head.
Start height 62 metres
Vertical metres 1425 metres for the roundtrip.
Trip distance 16.2 km
GPS-file X


Route photo

  Parts of the route up to and along the north ridge.
  Descending down into the gap at the north ridge.
  Ascending up from the gap at the north ridge.


From Ålesund drive road 60 towards Magerholm and cross the fjord on the ferry to Aursneset. From the ferry port at Aursneset drive 10.2 km towards Stranda on road 60, to Straumgjerde. At Straumgjerde turn right, drive across the bridge (crossing Norway's shortest salmon river), and continue north. Drive 3.9 km from road 60. You are now at Erstad, and turn left onto a gravel road. There is an old sign on the right hand side of the road pointing towards "Riksheimdalen". Follow this gravel road uphill for approximately 600 metres. You now get to a gate, and could in theory continue to drive uphill. But most likely the gate is locked, and if it isn't you might well risk that it is locked when you get back down. You should therefore find parking somewhere close to this gate. There are several places where a car can be parked along the road, but you need to make sure you don't block access for tractors etc. to the fields.

Start walking by following the mountain road uphill. At 320 metres you get to lake Dammen, and proceed another 2.5 km along the mountain road. When you see a couple of wooden bridges on the right side of the road turn right off the road and aim for the far right (north) of the north ridge of Sunnavindsnipa. There are no paths up here so you need to find a route that makes hiking up the grassy slopes as easy as possible. When you get up towards the ridge the terrain gets less strenuous, and you turn left and follow the ridge towards south.

On the ridge, 500 metres south of the summit, you get to a distinct gap in the ridge, approximately 40 metres deep. To descend down to the col you need to locate a vague path on the right (west) side of the ridge. This path starts a few metres before you get to the gap. Follow the obvious route down to the col, and continue uphill on the other side where there are obvious marks from other hikers; there is not a well defined path but it should be obvious where to ascend. Note that caution should be shown in this area, and if it's wet you should be very careful.

When you get back up on the south side of the gap you can enjoy the last 500 metres of easy walking to the summit, which is marked by a small cairn.

Descend by reversing your ascent route.



10. September 2011

We were spending the week-end at our cabin at Fjellsetra, and I was due to make an attempt at Blåbretinden this gorgeous Saturday. On my way to Erstad I noticed a woman parked along the road, clearly studying some map, and I considered stopping to ask if I could help with navigation. But I assume I took too long to consider my options, and soon I was way past the point where I could be bothered turning back.

When I arrived Erstad I noticed two cars being parked a couple of hundred metres before the gate blocking the mountain road up to Riksheimdalen. I asked the owners if this meant that the other small car parks further along were all occupied, but they said they hadn't considered driving further up since they were going to get a lift all the way to the end of the road at Riksheimdalen (they were going to Tårnet). They also offered me a lift, and I considered it, but rejected the offer when I realised this meant having to walk back down.

At my trail head I did the final preparations, including getting my bike ready for the long mountain road into Riksheimdalen. Just as I was ready to start my hike a young woman arrived from one of the lower car parks, and as I did when I hiked Tårnet and Storvasstinden a few weeks earlier, I asked her about her destination. She told me she was heading for Sunnavindsnipa, and if I wanted to join her. That meant I had to make a decision; solo to Blåbretinden or having company to Sunnavindsnipa. Since both these tops were on my to-do list, and since I knew both of them had some sections more difficult than "an easy walk", I decided to accept the offer. But before doing so I asked her about her fitness level, since I didn't want to end up with someone really unfit. She smiled and said something like "I'm fairly fit", and 30 minutes later I realised that my question had at best been off the target.

As Kjersti and I started the hike a car drove by and offered us lift (same team as had asked me for a lift further down), and this time I was probably closer to accepting since I had parked my bike, but I was psyched up for a walk and it didn't tempt me a lot to be crammed into the back seat of a car.

The walk up to Dammen and along Riksheimdalen was quite enjoyable, and at a good pace, and Kjersti and I exchanged hiking experiences. It turned out she was well seasoned, both summer and winter, despite her relative young age of 29. To myself I described her as "Cecilie Skog light". A compliment.

In Riksheimdalen we found a suitable place to leave the road and took on the slightly strenuous hike across grass and heather towards Sunnavindsnipa's north ridge. From here things got easier, and the views were starting to get impressive. And along the ridge I was getting more and more focused on the crux of the hike; the deep gap in the north ridge. I was very determined to have a serious go at this supposedly difficult section, and was confident I could make it given the fact that I had the moral support of an experienced hiker and climber.

At the gap we easily found the right place to descend, and when I inspected what lay ahead of us I wasn't able to see anything that would make this more challenging than "notch up the concentration a bit". We definitely used the hands a little, but that was just as much making sure our heads didn't bump into the wall on the left side as anything else. And ascending on the other side of the col was certainly not any more difficult, but maybe with a little more exposure.

After the gap we enjoyed an easy walk to the summit, and from here we had superb views to the best Sunnmøre can offer in terms of mountains, islands and fjords. We also enjoyed a light lunch, before heading back towards the gap. I still wasn't done with Sunnavindsnipa, since I knew climb back down to the col was likely to be a little more testing than when ascending, but it turned out it was still well within my comfort level. However, on a wet day I would have had serious doubts before taking on this descent. Kjersti clearly wanted more challenges so half-way up from the col she found a scrambling route up the steep wall. I hesitated a little, but when I found out there were excellent hand-holds I also ascended the more challenging route. Great fun!

Back up at the ridge we proceeded at good pace all the way back to Erstad, after a first class day to a first class mountain. The only small disappointment of the day was the fact that Blåbretinden was still in limbo.

Photos 10.09.2011