• Lifjell
  • 777 m
  • Primary factor 679 m
  • North of Sognefjorden
  • Location: North 61:09.773, East 005:09.234 (GPS at the summit)
  • Climbed October 21, 2007.
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2.


How to get there: From Bergen, take Hwy. E-39 north to Sognefjorden. You may drive from Bergen to the ferry at Oppedal in a little more than 1.5 hours. Take the ferry across to Lavik on the north side. This ferry generally departs every 30 minutes (at xx00 and xx30) during the day and evening. In Lavik, as you exit from the ferry area, turn right onto the main road. (This is going west). After a few hundred meters, go left towards Hyllestad. Follow the fjord as the road turns north and go through Leirvik. About 2 kilometer after Leirvik, Hwy 607 turns left, while Hwy 57 continues straight ahead. Make the left turn and continue towards Hyllestad. In Hyllestad, you will see a sign pointing left, that says "Lihesten", follow this rather narrow road on the south side of Hyllestadfjorden. Look for a side road signed with "Lekva" that forks right. Follow this road for about one kilometer and locate a small parking area on your right hand side just before a small hilltop. This is a trailhead, location N61:09.846, E005:13.334, elevation about 100 meter.
If your only objective is to climb the highest point of Lifjell, then a better trailhead is located near Hovland. In order to find it, do not turn right towards Lekva, but continue the road as it now follows the north side of Lifjorden. The trailhead is located near a farm on your right hand side, about 2-3 kilometer further from where the Lekva road access forked right. There is no developed parking here, find a place to park off the road or ask at the farm if you can leave a car in a spot where it does not cause any inconvenience. This trailhead is at location N61:09.710, E005:11.681, elevation about 20 meter. The driveway and the farm where you should start can be seen in this picture.
Route description: From the Lekva trailhead, continue the forest road that starts at the parking area a short way, then find the signs that indicate a trail going right. Follow this trail as it climbs uphill, then traverses a bit left before climbing somewhat more before it arrives at a trail junction. There is a big sign here. The sign says that Gygrekjeften forks right and that this trail is called "Nipestien". The main trail continues straight ahead. Unless you are familiar with steep terrain that requires quite a bit of steep scrambling, you should proceed straight ahead, even if your goal is to climb Gygrekjeften. The "Nipestien" trail is described under the Gygrekjeften mountain.
The main trail will get you to a small lake and several mountain cabins. There is another trail junction here with several signed trails. Going right will get you to Gygrekjeften, while going left is in the direction of the Lifjell main summit, also called Risnesnipa, 777 meter.
The terrain is generally quite rocky with many smaller tops and cliffs, there are also many smaller ponds of water. As you cross Grønskorfjellet (688m), you descend into a saddle, elevation about 610 meter. There is another mountain cabin located here. This saddle is easy to recognize since a power line crosses through it. Heading more south, you ascend the lower slopes of Risnesnipa. There is a trail marked with yellow paint that may be followed. This trail leads to a cairn at the south-east side of the summit plateau, an excellent viewpoint in good weather. The location here is N61:09.503, E005:09.990, elevation 766 meter. However, the highest point is located further north-west. This summit, the highest point on Lifjell, also has a nice cairn.
Alternative trail: Starting with the farm (near Hovland) as described above, walk through the farm and locate a rough "farmers road" that heads uphill on the left side of a creek. Follow this road as it climbs a slightly steeper hill before coming up to the corner of an open field. Turn right and hike along the side of this field as it extends uphill. There are a couple of gates and/or fences that should be crossed carefully. As you get to the upper end of this field, locate a trail that continues uphill. This trail is marked with yellow paint. The trail zig-zags uphill, but finds a very natural and easy line. This trail enters the mountain in the saddle where the power line cuts through. You may continue along the yellow trail until you arrive at the cairn with the good view on the main plateau of Risnesnipa. From here, the hike across to the highest point should pose no problems if there is at least some visibility.
Comments: This hike had been high on my priority list ever since first hearing about, later reading about the EPIC trip of Arnt Flatmo. I talked to Arnt before the weekend, indicating that I might do a trip to the Hardangerfjorden area, when he suggested Lifjell. Well, I would not take any dog along and it was October not March, so I did not expect to experience any trouble. When the weatherforecast also promised sunshine on Lifjell the decision to make this trip was definite.
I delivered Pål Jørgen at the airport already 5 minutes before 0600, as he was off on a week long visit to Berlin with his class as school. Proceeding directly north along E-39, I realized that I would be at the ferry before the first run of the day. I remembered a previous Sunday morning when we were slightly surprised to find that the first ferry on Sunday mornings run at 0800. The drive was pleasant and I arrived at 0730.
A break was just nice, I walked around to stretch my legs, just as the first ferry arrived from Lavik on the north side. It came a bit further out than perhaps normal, started to make the required turn in order to come alongside the quay, then sort of failed and slammed directly into the concrete pier that extends out on the inside of the docking area. Concrete dust forming a local cloud and nasty sounds told me that there was reason for concern. The ship backed off into open water and clearly wanted to evaluate the situation and review possible dammages or injuries. Together with a few others from the waiting line of cars, I walked out on the pier to have a closer look. What used to be a handrail was now twisted metal, however, the main impact had hit two of the vertical beams that were supposed to act as fenders while the ferry is parked. These fenders were all connected by a very heavy duty iron chain. This chain had been broken at the outer end of the impact and two of the beams were ripped out. They were now submerged, but pointing horizontally out into the water instead of standing vertically next to their neighbors.
As the ferry determined that the ship, the cars (including an express bus) and the passengers were all OK, she broadcasted a message saying that a visual inspection of the quay would be necessary before she could make a second attempt to dock. They subsequently lowered a lifeboat with two crew members that came over. These outward pointing beams were "bad news", as they might punch into the hull of the ferry. They needed to be removed. Fortunately, it seemed clear that they were held in place by the iron chain only, and that cutting this chain might provide a (short term) solution. Equipment to weld metal would be needed in order to cut this heavy duty chain. A local farmer was quickly alerted and he subsequently arrived with his tractor and the equipment needed. I was impressed how fast this came onto the scene, it was not at all obvious to me that such equipment could be located and brought into action in a matter of 15 minutes. The chain was cut and the two huge metal beams immediately sunk to the sea floor, deep enough to completely vanish. Thus, after about one hour, the lifeboat was hauled back up and the ferry could finally unload her cars and resume the regular schedule.
Thus, my start from the trailhead was just around 1000, about one hour later than anticipated. The sky was all clouds and the summits of Lifjell disappeared directly into the grey sky. Bad news, as it would mean fog in the mountain. As the weatherforecast had promised pretty good weather, I hoped that the clouds would rise and possibly go away as the day progressed.
I quickly came to the steeper part of Nipestien and sent some thoughts to Arnt. Going up here with a dog in March? This did not seem like a very good idea. He mentioned losing the trail higher up, it seemed clear to me that he most likely had continued the line beyond the third pitch instead of making a sharp left.
I arrived at the summit shortly after 1100, thick fog, there was no reason to stop. Descending on the other side, I quickly made it down to lake Blomvatnet (472m), then located a sign with several trails near three (small) mountain cabins and a second lake. I believed that the trail I had left above the trailhead continued to the highest summit and when I noted a sign for a trail to Hovland, I thought it would intersect this trail and be my best choice of route. However, this trail (marked with blue and yellow paint) was virtually impossible to follow as the distance between cairns far exceeded my visibility. Thus, I soon picked up a compass and set course towards south-west. To hike by compass in this terrain was easier said than done. Cliffs everywhere, in particular, pretty deep trenches filled with water, seemed to run perpendicular to my course. Very slippery and very cumbersome. It took me about 2 hours (from Gygrekjeften) until I finally crossed the saddle with a power line, thus providing a definite point of reference. Proceeding uphill, I ran into a trail marked with yellow paint that took me to a well built cairn. However, this was obviously the "best viewpoint cairn" and not the summit. A new compass course and another 20 minutes of inspecting possible local summits (they all look huge in the fog), before locating the proper summit cairn. I finally arrived at the summit at 1430, the fog was as dense as ever. Navigating back to the yellow trail was equally hard. I got off course and ended up hiking along the top of the steep cliffs before getting back to the viewpoint cairn (no views!) by 1500.
I hiked back down to the saddle with the power line, noticed a cabin there that I had not seen while ascending and, to my considerable surprise, two other people coming from the west. They turned out to be tourists from Germany. In order to save time, I now descended directly from this saddle, as it turned out to be a signed trail heading down this way. This trail turned out to be very well prepared, in fact by far a better trail if the main objective is to hike the summit of Lifjell. It was nice to finally descend back below the clouds and again have some visibility. I reached the road and had an easy walk back to my car at the trailhead, arriving there at 1600.