Location: North 61:26.487, East 008:18.625 (GPS at the summit)
Difficulty: YDS class 2+
Climbed: August 12, 2008
How to get there:
A good starting location is Eidsbugarden. From Oslo or Bergen, take
Hwy. E-16 towards the main mountain crossing that is about half-way
between Bergen and Oslo. Locate the intersection named "Tyinkrysset",
where a road heads north (also uphill) towards the large lake Tyin.
Take this road, after driving 3.8 kilometer, you approach the lake and
also a side road (good dirt) that forks right. (The main road continues to
Årdal.) There are signs for Tyinholmen and Eidsbugarden. Drive this road
about 18.8 kilometer. You are now at Eidsbugarden. There is a large, pay
parking area on your right. The cost in NOK 50.- for 24 hours (2008).
Park here, this is the trailhead, location N61:22.475, E008:17.832, elevation
about 1060 meter.
There are two main routes. I will describe both below. The "easiest" route
is YDS class 2+, the "best" route is YDS class 3. This is an excellent example
where the objectively safest route is slightly harder in a technical sense.
North West ridge:
This route is (YDS) class 3. When coming from Olavsbu, take the trail (towards
Eidsbugarden) to the saddle between Olavsbunuten (1970m) and Snøholstinden.
When coming from Eidsbugarden, one may ascend to the ridge as soon as you have reached
the north end of lake 1488.
Proceed uphill along the top line of the ridge, the ridge is broad and easy to
walk to about 1850 meter. Above you is a broken, stand-alone rock structure.
Continue uphill on the right side of this rock. A gully runs further uphill,
however, easy scrambling is better on the right side of this gully. There are
a few small cairns showing a good route higher. Above, you gain a fairly broad and level
area before a much more distinct and narrow ridge
rises above you. Continue directly
towards this ridge and climb the initial slab from your right hand side. Follow the
very top and gain a small notch with a cairn higher up on the left side. At this
point it looks tempting to traverse out on the east face, this is wrong! Turn right
in the small notch and climb directly up to regain the top ridge. Continue uphill
along the very top until you arrive at an almost flat section. The ridge ahead
looks broad and easy, however,
you are not done yet. Higher up, you
see a new section of the summit ridge. The slope is gentle, but
the ridge is much sharper.
The climbing is not difficult and higher up you arrive at a steeper block that
requires climbing. However, this block may be bypassed on the left (east) side, immediately
beyond one can regain the main ridge near a small dip in the ridge behind this obstacle. From here, the
ridge is easy as it continues a gradual climb to a small summit point
marked with a cairn.
The main cairn is a bit further along
a flat and increasingly wide summit plateau.
The scramble part of this route is on good rock with many good holds for hands and feet.
If you find yourself in (YDS) class 4 terrain, you are off-route. Backtrack and find
the proper route. There are several points with (considerable) exposure, but the entire
route is an excellent scramble that can be highly recommended. This route is far better
than the south ridge route described below. In particular, this applies with respect
to the danger of loose rocks on the south route.
This route is (YDS) class 2+. When coming on the trail from Eidsbugarden to
Olavsbu, as you descend west of the mountain, leave the trail and head across
the narrow passage between lake 1488 and lake 1486 (Snøholvatnet). Climb
directly uphill to about 1700 meter, then traverse right (south) while climbing
gradually to 1900 meter. You will gain a level plateau just inside a small hump
on the south ridge. From here, climb directly north up a steeper section that
tops out at 2020 meter. The slope may be slightly less steep if you stay on the
right (east) side. This slope requires no climbing, but it is full of
loose rocks and steep enough to have them shoot downhill when touched or moved. Thus, extreme
care should be taken if there are more climbers on this slope. In fact, the only
reasonable behavior is to move together in a single group.
From 2020 meter, the
ridge is broad and very gentle to the summit cairn.
This route is also
very unpleasant when wet (rain or a thin layer of new snow).
The route described above (north-west ridge) is objectively a safer route
despite its slightly more technical nature.
The day was scheduled to be a day of transportation. I needed to drive from
my mountain cabin near Lillehammer and back home to Bergen. The weather was
not great, mostly overcast, but substantial rain was not in the forecast.
I decided to drive up the Valdres valley and consider a stop and some hiking
if things worked out ok. As I came to Vang, I considered the 1582 meter
Gilafjellet, but decided that it was better left for a winter ski trip.
Then the idea of hiking Snøholstinden suddenly formed. I believed
that this mountain was not too far from Eidsbugarden, more or less on my
route to Bergen.
I drove to Eidsbugarden and parked. I was really ill-prepared in the sense
of not having a single clue about how one might go about climbing this peak,
no information about routes and level of difficulty whatsoever. I decided to
carry along crampons and my ice axe as well as a couple of slings. I believed
that the shortest hike would be along the trail to the DNT hut Olavsbu.
I started out at 1015 and figured that I had plenty of time to do this hike, then
drive to Bergen. However, as I walked along the lake Store Mjølkedalsvatnet,
I started to realize that this approach hike was quite substantial. As I crossed
the col north of Høgbrøthøgde (1821m), Snøholstinden finally
came into view. Boy, it looked pretty steep on all sides. I sat down and rested while
considering my options. The ridge from the north (properly north-west) looked reasonable,
but had a few steep sections. I had no idea how wide it might be, possibly with
bypass options on the far side? The slope coming down towards the south also looked
feasible. I decided to follow the Olavsbu trail about one kilometer north of lake 1488,
then make an attempt to ascend the entire north-west ridge. It made sense to consider
a traverse and then descend south directly to the crossing between lake 1488 and lake 1486
I arrived at the base of the ridge about 3.5 hours after starting out. A simple estimate
now told me to add another 3 hours for the return hike, then perhaps 4 hours for the
peak (it did indeed not look straightforward), more than 10 hours. My plans for reaching
Bergen reasonably early needed radical adjustments!
I ascended the ridge and made a brief stop slightly above 1800 meter. I had spent 4 hours and
the ridge above looked intimidating to say it the least. The ridge was indeed narrow, climbing on
the east side did not look like an option. A couple of steeper sections might prove impossible
given my solo hike in not so nice weather. My crampons and ice axe looked like excess baggage,
I could not see any ice or snow on the mountain. Still, this project captured my full
attention. The problems higher up might just get sorted out along the way. Mountains sometimes
look harder than they are from a view point like this.
I proceeded with caution, an extra sense of exploring since I had no information about this
route, added to my already very good feeling of being in this interesting landscape. I realized
fully that I possibly would have to turn back, that the south ridge would have been a "safer"
route to gain the summit. However, this looked an awful lot more interesting.
The first section of scramble got me up a "mini-ridge" just right of a gully. There were
small cairns in a few places, so at least there was a route up this way. How difficult
remained to be seen. The next section of ridge looked like the hardest part. I came upon
a small cairn in a notch on the left and what looked like a clear route continued
out into the east side. I proceeded that way trying to gradually regain the ridge above,
but ran into difficult terrain. The slope was steep and dangerous below. No more cairns,
I carefully climbed back down and returned to the last cairn. A closer look revealed a route
directly up to the top ridge, a lot easier and soon I topped out on a more level section.
The ridge ahead looked really easy. However, this gave a false impression, I soon saw
a rather long continuation of the ridge, pretty flat, but sharper than ever.
The continued scramble was pure fun and the last major obstacle was easily turned
on the left side. The top section of the mountain had received new snow, but in moderate
I arrived at the summit cairn at 1520, slightly more than 5 hours.
Unfortunately, the clouds converged on me just as I arrived and the views around vanished
in the fog. On top of this, the first non-trivial rain started. I had decided to explore
the south ridge for my descent. This involved easy hiking down to 2020 meter, but looking
down from there, the terrain was rather steep for the next 100 vertical meter. No difficulties
beyond an insanely slippery surface with lots of loose rocks. I touched several and they
immediately zipped down the slope at high speeds. I was happy to be alone, any climber above
me would have been a major hazard.
The descent took time as everything was slippery. The rocks, the moss, the lichen covering
many rocks, all contributed to very nasty conditions. I know only one recipe, slow and careful.
Finally, I was down by the lakes, the descent had taken me almost 2 hours. The return hike was
long and uneventful. Rain showers and not a single person. I felt the lack of food and overall
effort and was quite tired when reaching the car at 2030. Slightly more than 10 hours, my arrival
in Bergen would be after midnight. After many mountains abroad, this was an excellent hike to
conclude the summer and remind me of all the quality mountains we do have in Norway.