Late April through May is corn (snow) season in Norway, the best time of year for ski mountaineering. May 1 (Friday) was a holiday here, and when my friends Christophe (French), Ivar (Weegie) and I saw good weather coming, we decided to take an extra day off and heading out on Wednesday evening. Destination: Romsdalen, one of most dramatic valleys in Norway, graced by Romsdalshorn on one side and brooded over by the mighty Troll Wall on the other, about a four-hour drive from Trondheim. We base-camped at a comfortable (10-kroner, 6-minute showers! That's a bargain in these parts!) campground in the village of Isfjorden, and ascended three peaks in two days.
The first was Vengetind, at 1852 meters (6075 feet) the biggest thing in the area, and one that's been haunting me since I backed off the couloir three years ago due to icy conditions. (I am not all that experienced in snow and ice craft, but Christophe, who has spent a lot of time in the Alps, has taken me on as a protegé because we work well together). The skier's route follows a broad couloir up the west side of the mountain, ending in a col between the mountain's two summits. To get to the higher north peak you traverse around to the north side on a very convenient natural ramp, then up steep snow the last 100 m to the summit. The ramp is a bit loose with some rotten snow crossings, and it's a long way down if you were to fall but not at all difficult -- the main thing is to keep your cool and at least one hand on something solid just in case. The snow in the couloir was heavy/wet, a bit tricky to ski but also really safe, if you were to fall there is almost no way you could NOT stop. A dream come true for me.
On May 1 we did a double header, Kjøvskartind (1552m) and its neighbor, Kirketaket (1439 m, "the church roof"). I have done both in one day twice before, once with Christophe and once with two others from a larger group who had the energy to do the extra 800 meters of vertical. Both have very broad, south-facing slopes that reliably produce bumper crops of corn every spring. Consequently, Kirketaket, nearest to end of the dirt road that gives access, is probably the most-heavily skied peak in the area. We saw maybe 20 other skiers on the mountain, nothing, according to Christophe, compared to what you would see on a popular route in France. We were maybe the 8th, 9th, and 10th to reach the top, and this was after we had ascended Kjøvskartind, come down a couloir on its west side, then cut back up to the climbing route on Kirketaket. Lets just say that Weegies are not known for early starts, something Christophe likes to rib Ivar about and also one reason he likes to ski with me.
Here's a link to a photo gallery:
I've been doing other, less impressive summits on the last few weekends, and hope to do a few more before I hang my skis up for the summer!