• Grovabreen
  • 1666 m.
  • Primary factor 606 m.
  • Location: Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
  • Location: North 61:29.273, East 006:31.928 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2
  • Climbed May 2, 2010.


How to get there: Grovabreen is an independent glacier just west of the south end of Jostedalsbreen. A good point of reference is Skei, located on Hwy. E-39, about 3.5 hours north of Bergen. From Skei, Hwy. 5 connects south to Sogndal.
Take Hwy.5 from Skei and drive 2.1 kilometer. Make a right onto a smaller road signed Vassenden. Drive across the bridge and keep right at the fork on the other end. Approximately 4.5 km from Skei, locate a side road that turns sharply left, there is a sign for Dvergsdalsdalen. Follow this road uphill, stay on what is obviously the main road. This road serves Dvergsdalsstøylen, however construction work prevented access, parking just below after driving about 8.2 km from Skei, is just fine. This location is N61:31.173, E006:25.723, elevation about 515 meter.
Route description: A new road is being constructed straight up the hillside before the old farm road reaches the summer farm cabins. Take this road, or if you prefer more nature and less destruction, follow a slightly visible track uphill directly from the farm cabins. Either way, you will hit the horizontal segment of the road at about 725 meter.
There are two different routes. The first option is to ascend the hillside on your left (when facing along the road towards the upper valley). In this case, aim for the saddle, then continue along the ridge all the way to the main glacier.
The alternative, which will give you better skiing, is to follow the valley and ascend the glacier directly. Note that there may be avalanche danger from the steep slopes on either side of this valley. Climb a first step, then more gently as your route gradually curves left and reaches a saddle next to the lake 1169. From here, one can ascend the ridge directly to the main glacier, or perhaps more convenient, traverse right and ascend the smooth slope coming down from the glacier.
Once on the glacier proper, follow a pretty flat route about 3 km to the highest summit.
Comments: This weekend I could ski only Sunday, high on the wishlist was Grovabreen and Fivlenosi, these peaks are about 3-4 hours drive from Bergen. The weather looked as it would stay nice in the morning only. I decided on Grovabreen and left Bergen Saturday in the afternoon. My plan was to stay at the hotel in Skei, thus getting an early start when the sunshine was promised.
I went to bed early and woke up already around 0430. Well parked at the trailhead and ready to go by 0515, record early for being in Norway. It had snowed the previous evening, even flurries down at Skei. Now, the sky was bright blue, the sun already hitting a few summits further west. The temperature was around -5 Centigrade and I quickly decided that my wax mountain skis would be by far the best to use. I had brought the pair that can use skins (for uphill traction) as well, but I only use them in pretty extreme situations.
I walked up to the farm cabins, then uphill along a small creek. Quite to my surprise, I ran into a new forest road around 700 meter of elevation, it looked pretty ugly. Looking uphill, it was clear that the route up the valley would be much better than the alternative ridge route. The approach up to the ridge line had more vegetation and less snow.
I skied in the narrow valley where I knew there had been a deadly avalanche accident a few years earlier. The slope on the side is steep, but today the snow conditions were safe, in fact, the entire slope was scattered with visible rocks.
A single skier had been here recently, I saw his tracks (uphill and downhill), but he had turned around at approxiately 1100 meter. The slopes were covered by 5-10 cm new, fresh snow, underneath a firm layer of crust. I surprised two ptarmigans as they were busy with their morning schedule, just a very nice and quiet morning.
As I approached the ridge near lake 1169, the remaining route became clear. A traverse right in order to access the first part of the glacier, looked better than climbing along the ridge on a day like this. I continued making a single track and before long I could see the highest point ahead. Grovabreen is a plateau glacier, they are often very flat on top. However, by observing the horizon around you it is not too difficult to determine the highest point. Arrival at 0750, about 2.5 hours put me way ahead of my original schedule.
The ski descent was very nice, essentially a continuous, smooth run from the top to the bottom. Further down, I followed the new forest road down to the car. Such a road creates a lot of damage, it is hard to understand what economic benefit would offset or justify the harm to nature, perhaps in particular this close to a national park. The weather seemed to hold and I had already returned to my car shortly after 9, I quickly made up my mind to drive across to Sogndal and attempt Fivlenosi.