How to get there:
The best access is from Ytre Kandal on the west side of
Breimsvatnet. In order to reach this small farming community,
drive north (from Bergen) on E-39, or south from Møre og
Romsdal along the same Hwy. From Eastern Norway one can travel
across to Stryn, then along Nordfjord's south side to Utvik and
across the mountain to Byrkjelo where you will find E-39. Assuming
an approach from/via Byrkjelo, continue to the small village
of Breim and further in the direction of Sandane. You will have
the lake Breimsvatnet on your left. Immediately after the lake
ends, look for a sign going left with the name Kandal.
This road will take you across the river from Breimsvatnet and then
south-east along the west side of the lake. At Lyngneset, the road
turns more south (slightly west of south), continue for about 2 km
to the small farm community called Ytre Kandal. Just after crossing
the river in Ytre Kandal, a small dirt road forks right. This is the
road to Ytre Kandalsstøylen. There is a self serve toll station,
pay 20 crowns and continue as far as the road permits. In winter, it is
likely best to park at the first available turnout that leaves the road
open to other traffic. This toll station can also be used to pay for
the usage of the mountain hut Ovebu (see below).
In summer, it is likely that one can drive passenger cars up to
Ytre Kandalsstøylen (approx. 500 meter elevation). Route description:
Hike (or drive) from Ytre Kandal to Ytre Kandalsstøylen. Just
before the road crosses the river, the route turns directly south
into the narrow valley Sørsendalen. (The lower part of which is
also called Botnen.) There is a sign just where the trail leaves
the road, reading 1.5 hours to Øykjeheia and 3 hours to
Blåegga (this is the local name for Botnafjellet). The summer route
is marked with red "T's" and climbs the east side of the valley to
Øykjeheia, then continues up the north-east ridge/shoulder of the
The rest of this description is based on our winter climb. The trip
can be made in one day, however, in winter it may be quite a good option
to stay one night at the small mountain hut called Ovebu. Ovebu is located
just a few hundred meter north-east of the first Sørsendalsvatn (918 m).
This hut is open, but one should arrange with Ove Kandal in advance (his
phone number is +47-57867535). In 2003, the cost was 150 Norwegian crowns for
one night. One can arrange to pay this together with the road toll.
In winter, the avalanche situation is EXTREMELY important for this hike. The route
is in avalanche terrain and one should be absolutely certain that the snow is
stable. Avalanches can occur at any time throughout the winter, but the danger is often
smaller very early in the winter, before any substantial snow has accumulated and
also very late in winter (spring) when the snow has consolidated and many of
the seasonal avalanches already have taken place. DO NOT ski this route after a
recent storm or substantial snowfall.
From Ytre Kandalsstøylen, ski about 2 km south, then south-west into the
lower part of Sørsendalen (also called Botnen). In February 2003 a huge
avalanche had released from the lower north slopes of Botnafjellet, it stretched
across the valley floor (see the pictures below). Thus, it may be safer to stay
on the right (west) side of the creek, however an avalanche of this size can
kill anywhere across the valley, since a powerful shock wave will be present
(This shock had broken sturdy trees like small matches).
The valley then narrows and the terrain climbs, also in this section there
are avalanches, we spotted two that had released on the north slope, they ran
down into the valley, then followed the creek a considerable distance downwards.
Thus, the clear advice is to stay halfway up on the right (north) side of the
valley. DO NOT ski along the creek as long as this can be avoided. To make
things complicated, there was also a smaller avalanche from the steep, south
side cliffs, however the danger from this side appears to be smaller. In summary,
there is NO avalanche "safe" route up this valley. If the snow conditions are
unsettled, cancel your plan and find another mountain.
Higher up, the valley becomes very narrow and it may be difficult to avoid
its lower part. Depending on the conditions one can ski more or less straight
up staying mostly on the left (south) side of the creek, or one can climb the slope
on the north side, and leave the very distinct valley. In this latter case,
one will arrive directly at the hut Ovebu, if the creek is followed one should
turn right as soon as the first lake comes into view and it is possible to
make a gentle uphill just beyond the small cliff that has been on the
right hand side.
There are two routes from Ovebu to the summit, a short direct climb and a
longer tour that also includes Blåegga, the distinct ridge going south.
The first route has avalanche danger, while the second route involves a short,
but steep ridge as well as being much longer. This description will cover both
alternatives as we made the "tour de Blåegga", an option to be recommended.
From Ovebu, ski directly (west) towards the larger Sørsendalsvatn (928m) and
turn south into the wild valley between Botnafjellet and Sørsendalsegga.
Climb the gentle slope of the Blåbreen glacier, be aware that this is a
glacier and that (hidden) crevasses may pose a danger. Continue south on the
glacier to its very highest point in the distict saddle between Kupefjellet (west)
and Blåegga (east). There is an impressive view south from this saddle, the
Trollekupa lakes being just below you.
From this saddle, climb the ridge to Blåegga. The best line is likely just
left of the boulders that can be seen. Depending on the snow conditions one may
need crampons and ice axe here. The skis should be carried. YDS class 3 terrain in winter
(Class 2 / 2+ in summer?).
Higher up, the slope decreases and one can continue on skis to the highest point
of Blåegga (1530m). Blåegga has a primary factor of 140 meter to
Botnafjellet, thus ranks as a separate mountain. From here, the skiing down to
the connecting saddle and further up to the cairn at the summit of Botnafjellet
is straightforward. Take care and stay away from the steep cliffs on either side.
The view from this summit is absolutely outstanding, the mountain landscape
extends in all directions.
From the summit, there is a route that can be skied directly down the north side.
The upper part of this route is steep and we found a fracture line that had
triggered avalanches almost across the entire slope. Unless this slope is
judged stable, one should use the longer route across Blåbreen. Locate the
flat area marked 1290m on the map and descend above it. Once there, continue west
in the slopes between moraines down to the lower Sørsendal lake. Comments:
I did this climb with my son Pål Jørgen, age 13, and my
friend Jan-Frode Myklebust. It took us 3 hours to hike/ski from Ytre
Kandal to the hut Ovebu, the return the following day only 1 hour and
10 minutes. We started from Ovebu the next day at 0845 and reached the
summit at 1215. We had blue sky, sunshine and a fantastic view in all
directions. Despite some wind along the way, we had almost none at the
The return directly down to the hut took about 30 minutes
mainly because of the hard crust at the upper part of the steepest slope
that we walked down instead of skiing.
The local community including
a trail sign at Ytre Kandalsstøylen call this mountain
Blåegga, not Botnafjellet.
Over a period of 17 years, the guestbook in Ovebu had not recorded any
visits in the period December 6. to March 31. Most seasons, there are
no visits between September and June. From this it seems
reasonable to believe that
extremely few ascents have been done in the "winter period" December
21. to March 21.
The massive avalanche from the north slope of Botnafjellet (east of
point 1290) and into (and across!) Sørsendalen is among the largest
I have ever seen. The avalanche stretched at least 300 meter out on fairly
flat terrain in a width of about 300 meter, the average depth was likely
about 5 meter with many local spots closer to 10. This corresponds to
almost half a million tons of snow. Sturdy birch trees that the avalanche
did not reach were broken violently by the shock wave in front of the snow.
Our route took us near altogether six different avalanches, an extremely
high number in any area. Any winter skiing in this terrain must
consider the weather and the snow conditions with the utmost care!
The ridge from Kupefjellet, descending this ridge is likely the
easiest way from the DNT hut Longevasshytta on the south side. This ridge
is much easier (less steep) than the ridge up to Blåegga that must
be climbed. The glacier tops out in the saddle between these two ridges.