Stiganosi (Syrdalsbreen)

  • Stiganosi (Syrdalsbreen)
  • 1761 m
  • Primary factor 651 m
  • Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
  • Location: North 60:55.810, East 007:00.821 (GPS at the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2
  • Climbed on November 22, 2008.


How to get there: The mountain Stiganosi marks the highest point of Syrdalsbreen. This is the high point on the large and very rugged penisula between the famous Nærøyfjord (on the UNESCO world heritage list) and the end of Aurlandsfjorden (going to Flåm.) In summer, the easiest access is via a trail up the valley Jonadalen. This trail starts in Undredalen, just north of the short daylight section of highway E-16 between the two tunnels that are 11 and 5 kilometers long, respectively. This report describes a winter route, via the DNT self service hut Grindaflethytta.
Route description: Grindaflethytta is almost perfectly located between Flåm, Stalheim and the railroad station Uppsete, in a rather large mountain area that sees little use in winter. From hwy. E-16, the best starting point is the farm Fyre where a small road crosses the river about 1500 meter south of the famous Stalheim hotel. The location of this side road is N60:49.404. E006:41.291, elevation 310 meter. One can travel to this location by bus from Voss, in order to be more independent and retun by a different route.
Follow the road as it runs by the Fyre Farm, then climbs uphill as a forest road. There are a couple of signs pointing to Grindaflethytta along this road. The proper route should head a bit south, then more east as it enters the valley Øvsthusdalen. This valley ends near Stangahøgdi, where the route crosses a saddle at elevation 1230 meter. There are some large poles indicating the correct route across. Descend to lake 1144, then continue north-east along several lakes in Fyresdalen. This valley widens and turns more east as you approach the Grindafletvatni (1081m) lakes with the hut near the north-east outlet. This hut has 8 beds plus additional matress space. The location is N60:50.604, E006:54.947, elevation 1090 meter.
From Grindaflethytta, there is a cairned route headed north towards Syrdalsbreen. First, this route climbs the 1530 meter saddle between points 1603 (west) and 1610 (east). Descending slightly, continue north on the broad ridge near point 1536 before descending to the high saddle just south of Storebreen (1662m) at elevation 1370 meter. Climb the south slopes of Storebreen, then contour north-east, leave the trail (that now descends into Jonadalen) and descend slightly to the saddle separating Storebreen from Syrdalsbreen (1530m). From here, continue north-east to the high plateau of Syrdalsbreen. There are two high points, the south point is located at N60:55.640, E007:00.666, while the main cairn is located further north at location N60:55.810, E007:00.821. These two points are very nearly equal in height.
Grindaflethytta can also be reached from the railroad station of Uppsete. For a possible route see the description of Fossdalsskavlen.
Comments: This trip came off to a pretty bad start. I spent Friday morning at home and allocated one full hour for my travel (by public city bus) to Bergen bus station where our long distance bus was supposed to leave at 1120. However, I failed to realize that the first winter snow was falling and creating a sense of chaos in the traffic. No bus on my local "mountain" (Natlandsfjellet), without much alarm I jogged down to the main street below. However, no bus there either. I called the taxi service and asked for a cab to the intersection of Natlandsveien and Natlandsfjellet. "Sorry" was the response, we only send taxis to home addresses, not to any street intersections. "What about this gas-station", I asked, upon which the operator simply hung up on me. At this point, I started to get a sense of urgency, however, the bus showed up and I still had high hopes of catching the long distance bus in town. My bus proceeded at a snails pace and at each and every stop there were 10-15 people, all paying the driver with (large) bills. We quickly slipped 10-15 minutes behind a normal schedule. My prospects looked grim, but at this point I had no other option than riding the bus, then running across to the main bus terminal.
Arriving there, 5 minutes late, my bus and the rest of the group had departed. Stuck in the first winter chaos with a backpack and skis, I walked across to the railway station and asked about trains to Voss. No train until quite a bit later. I called Frode (he was already at Voss) and informed him that I would be late, that the group should just proceed and that I would catch up somehow.
The next challenge was to get a taxi to take me back home. Easier said than done. I was stranded at the official taxi stop by the railroad station. No taxis. I called, they said a car was on its way. No car. I called again, would it be better if I ordered a cab to the hotel Terminus across the street? "Much better", another taxi lesson learned. The taxi driver turned out to know the area and informed me about a bus serving Gudvangen from Voss. That sounded good as parking in Voss would give me flexibility on my return travel.
Arriving in Voss, the next bus left at 1430, but where to park? The Fleischer hotel parking had a sign saying that one could only park with a proper "parking permit" displayed. I walked into the reception and asked the girl if she could issue me a "parking permit" valid until Sunday. She was polite and service minded, I got my permit and travelled onwards with the bus at 1430.
Hiking up the hill from Fyre, I soon arrived at the snow level and started skiing up the valley after the group that had started out about 1:30 before me. I figured that I would arrive to a warm hut with dinner ready to be served. After about two hours of skiing, I noticed the lights from the group above me. They were just crossing the steeper hill before the main saddle and soon the lights disappeared. However, I understood that I would soon catch up and after skiing downhill on the opposite side, I caught up while they were having a rest. The weather was a bit windy with snow drifting, low clouds and therefore quite dark. We arrived at the hut around 2000. Nice to get in and start a fire while preparing a three course dinner. By midnight everybody was ready for bed.
The next day came with a cloudless sky, brilliant stars and about minus 15 degrees Celcius. The scenery was remarkable, small summits around this wide basin, pre-dawn light, the white snow covering every slope except a few rocky cliffs. We got started around 0815 and had a nice ski trip to Syrdalsbreen, arriving there around 1250. After 15 minutes (it was cold to hang around any longer), we skied back via the summit of Storebreen, arriving back at the hut by 1600. Another nice evening with a healthy meal, then a bit earlier to bed. We all had a good workout, this being the first ski trip of the season for most of us.
Sunday morning, we cleaned out the hut, then set course for the mountain Fossdalsskavlen (1551m), due north of the railway station Uppsete. Today, the wind had died down and we had a near perfect day of powder skiing in virgin terrain. Not a single ski track to be seen anywhere. White, soft slopes with a very low sun hitting the south and east facing terrain, dark, blue shadows ruling the west and north facing. The trip came to a proper end with a very nice, 700 meter vertical deep powder hill to Uppsete with arrival about 1.5 hours before the train departure. No problem, as Odd Erik had a cabin there providing a comfortable chair from which I could sense the weak heat from the sun as it travelled low across the mountain ridge before dropping below about 30 minutes before our scheduled departure.
Many thanks are due to Frode Atterås, the designated leader of this trip. We were 12 people, including two sporty girls with good strength and style. A very nice beginning of a new ski season ended back home with a warm sauna followed by a delicious Sunday dinner.