The best way to appreciate the Norwegian scenery is undoubtedly, from above. My favourite means of travel is thus on foot, as unlike in other mountain areas such as the Alps, there is very little infrastructure in place to reach the tops. Besides of a few viewpoints along mountain roads you need to walk if you want to make it to the peak. This means you’ll have to work if you want to get the view, which in return makes the view all the more rewarding.
When we lived in Flåm two years ago we mostly spent our time road-tripping the wider area around us, visiting for example the glaciers of Jostedalen and Folgefonna. We made it to a few peaks around the fjord, mainly on evening walks after we got off from work early. This summer we aim to explore much more in the mountains along the Aurlands- and Nærøyfjords, peak-bagging to find more stunning views in our own backyard. As we escape the crowds in Flåm on our days off we are trying to tick off as many peaks as possible from our to-do list, soon also including a few that are only reachable by boat.
Prest is set in a stunning location right where he Aurlandsfjord makes an almost 90 degree bend towards Undredal, allowing views of blue waters and sheer green walls in several directions. We only been on the actual peak of Prest once, simply because 20 minutes below the peak lies another top known as Røygrindsnosi, whose view is too scenic to leave behind and continue to rocky bump that is actually Prest.
I think whether or not you go all the way up is of minor importance: it is the panorama, that counts here. Prest was long my favourite mountain and is still PJ’s favourite along the Aurlqndsfjord. It is a steep 600m climb up from the parking lot to get to the summit.
Skulenosi recently dethroned Prest to become the most spectacular mountain I set foot on in this area. We walked on Skulenosi as a side trip to Handklefjellet (more below), as we had already made our way up from the valley anyway. It is the longest trip I know of so far to get on a single peak: 1000 vertical meters and about 6km in distance to get across and around all rivers before you can start hiking the ridge line towards the peak (which adds another 2km). The best view lies a little bit beyond the summit and what a view it was. We sat there for a long time, barely believing that what we were seeing was real.
From a distance, Handklefjellet looks like a giant plateau towering 1000 meters above the fjord. It is not as nice and flat as it seemed which provided a challenge to find a somewhat comfortable tenting spot. The hike to get there was one of the more challenging ones I’ve done in Norway: we encountered lots of snow, had a hard time locating the tiny track and ventured cross-country for a fair part of the 6 hours it took us to get there.
Few people come up here, but because there is lots of streams and a little lake many animals roam the area, including the rare wild reindeer (which we unfortunately only saw tracks of). We made it out to the towering cliff walls facing Undredal, watching the rocks fall 1000 meters straight below us.
The mountain that is likely to have the most dramatic shape and the airiest peak around here is Ramnanosi. There are several ways up the mountain, and we have only followed up the shortest path that starts from Gudmedalen. On our way up we were guided by three little girls that were staying in a family summer farm by themselves and went up the mountain earlier that day. They were between the ages of 6 and 10. Norwegian kids never seize to amaze me.
The steep crest to the summit suddenly stops as you reach its highest point, when the cliff you are standing on towers a few hundred meters over lower ground. The tip (or the nose) of Ramnanosi sticks out over this drop. It’s falling, and every year the mountain shrinks by a few centimeters.
Hovdungo is not really a peak in itself, but more like a little plateau. It hosts an old summer farm right where the mountain turns in from the fjord to the Aurlandsvalley. It’s a very popular hiking trail among the people living here and offers some of the best evening views in the area. The evening light creates a spectacular show, only illuminating parts of the landscape as it is cut by the mountains.
Something that is really unique, and quite scary, about this walk is that it passes by some very large cracks (some the size of crevasses) that are cutting into the mountain. These cracks show that the mountains here will eventually give in and tumble down into the fjord. The trail passes a few that one could fall into, if you’re not paying attention.