Folgefonna glacier (Norway), 1-9 August 2015
After successful trip to Swiss Alps last Summer, we were looking for mountains elsewhere. We chose Norway, partly because wild camping is legal in Norway, partly because we fell in love with Norwegian glaciers and mountains during previous trips. We were really inspired by the wonderful pictures from the trip of Dmitry Markov (links to the trip report are at the bottom of the page).
So - welcome to Norway! We had planned to walk from Odda to Rosendal; we'd decided not to rent a car but use public transport instead. Unfortunately the plans were somewhat altered by the weather. We had to abandon the part of the track shown with a dashed red line on the map, catch a bus from Sunndal to Rosendal (black dashed line on the map) and make several day trips without full backpacks. As there were four of us and we could cope with wet glaciers, the key feature of the trip was crossing Folgefonna glacier. This worked out very well.
Coloured lines show our track. The arrows show the direction of travel. The red dashed line shows originally planned (and later abandoned) route, the black dashed line shows our bus journey from Odda to Rosendal. The bus and ship icons show bus stops and ferry terminal.
Walking time includes short breaks but not the lunch break.
- Snow. There were loads of snow in the mountains this year. The glaciers which should have been dry in the Summer were all covered by snow. It was quite hard to find a snow-free spot to pitch a tent above 1000 m. Maria was strongly against camping on snow (we will have to work on this in Winter...), and this was the main reason why the originally planned route was abandoned. Originally, we planned two camps near the glacier, but at this altitude everything was covered by snow. In addition, our plans were affected by bad weather (we did not fancy walking on the glacier for several hours with strong wind and pouring rain).
- Weather. We knew what to expect from Norwegian weather, and were prepared for rain and showers. The weather did not disappoint, and we had our share of wet weather (although there three days with no rain, and we even had two days with some sunshine). One day we had fairly strong wind (over 20 mph) and very strong rain. Our Goretex jackets could not cope with this, and the boots got eventually wet, too. The boots stayed wet until we got home... Camping trips to Norway should perhaps be a bit longer, so as to have some spare time to deal with bad weather. It would have probably been wise to plan to spend at least a few nights in the huts, in order to dry wet boots/clothing. We camped throughout the trip. The weather forecast can be found here. One can generate links to pdf files with forecast for desired locations (e.g., like this). These files are very small, they can be downloaded on a smartphone without using too much data traffic. We used this quite a bit, although one should treat Norwegian weather forecast with caution; even next day rain/wind forecast could be spectacularly wrong.
- Maps and paths. The online topo map of Norway (e.g., here; in order to display the raster map, click Kartvalg → Land → Rasterkart) is very good, it was sufficient for our needs. The map shows every path. Walking through the forests without a path is difficult. Above the tree line, many people travel without paths, however it is difficult to find trip reports. There are very few reports on Russian web sites. A useful site is Fjell Forum, Google Translate helps. Detailed information about Norwegian summits is at WestCoastPeaks and PeakBook. Good aerial photographs are here.
- Walking day. This trip certainly wasn't as intensive as the last year's trip to the Alps, probably because we were not carrying full packs on several day trips. The distances and climbs were also shorter. Although we were a group of four, the full packs were quite heavy: we had to carry a lot of hardware (crampons, ice axes, harnesses, rope etc.), two tents. The initial pack weight for over 25 kg for Victor and Lova, over 20 kg for Maria and 5 kg for Sonya. The first couple of days were quite hard, but then we got used to the weight.
- Difficulty level. We were prepared to deal with crevasse rescue, so crossing the glacier was very appropriate. We had also hoped to practice climbing on dry glaciers, but due to large amount of snow and lack of time we only did it once. We had to scramble in fairly steep terrain a couple of times, and once even had to protect a pitch with a rope. Another time we had to cross fairly steep snow fields. The ice axes and rope would have come handy, but this was a day trip and we left everything in the tents. We managed to belay Sonya by walking directly underneath her. Overall, the difficulty level matched our abilities.
- Mobile networks. There is no mobile reception in the valleys, but we found 3G/4G in many places higher up. Mobile coverage can be checked here and here.
- Electricity. Our solar panel had very limited use in Norway due to lack of sunshine. We used it once to recharge our batteries.
- Public transport and shopping. Public transport is very punctual, but quite expensive and very infrequent. The timetables and fares can be found here (the system for calculating fares is very complex, it is almost impossible to do it at home correctly). In order to save time in Bergen, we brought everything with us from England - except gas. We managed to buy gas canisters at the bus station (there is a fairly big shopping centre there).
- Webcams. There are very few webcams in Norwegian mountains. A good list of available webcams is here.