Tyneside Loipers hut touring in the Jotunheim – March 2019

Eight intrepid Loipers went directly from Dalseter to the Jotunheim for 9 days of hut touring. We arrived at the lovely Spiterstulen Fjellstue after a few hours on the bus and an expensive taxi journey. The snow in the Spiterstulen valley was thinner than we would have liked.

We followed the winter route first to the unstaffed hut at Olavsbu and then on to the staffed hut at Fondsbu (still run by Solberg, a wonderful lady who some of us remember from 2004). Olavsbu was very cold (-12 degC) – clearly nobody had been there for a few days. We spent the whole evening wearing all our layers.

The route to Fondsbu had been newly marked with birch twigs and it was mostly sunny and an easier day except for the steep descent down towards Lake Bygdin which was more challenging than I had remembered.

Our next day was very much as forecast – windy and a horizontal blizzard. A few of us tried to get out for a short day-tour but we soon returned and spent the day reading and playing cards. But on the following day the cloud cleared away as we followed a marked route up toward a higher valley (S of Lake Bygdin). We summitted on a small peak and ate lunch with superb views across the Jotunheim. Then we headed further into the valley and over a col to the south and circled back to Fondsbu (a great route which made up for our previous day’s enforced rest).

Rugged peaks – day touring from Fondsbu

The route back to Olavsbu was uneventful and mainly sunny and the hut was less cold than previously. The next day from Olavsbu, 4 of us took a more adventurous route to Spiterstulen avoiding the marked trails. It was a superb day, skiing via remote cols and lakes that are probably unskied for most of the winter. The previous day’s extra snowfall meant that we spent the whole way breaking trail – for much of the time we were taking turns, each doing 5 minutes at the front and then swapping over. It took 9 and a half hours and we arrived in fading light to be told that dinner was being served (we were late).

Fresh snow and dramatic mountains in the Jotunheim

We had planned to move on to Glitterheim (an unstaffed hut) and pick off the summit of Glittertind (Norway’s second highest peak) but we learnt that the forecast was for more snow and high wind (blizzards) and we were in danger of being marooned at Glitterheim. So, after one more day in Spiterstulen (a very enjoyable day tour and a chance to practice some downhill telemark turns), we got the taxi back out to Lom and bus to Lillehammer. That opened the possibility of one more (windy) day of track skiing in Nordseter before catching the train back to Oslo airport the following morning.

Mark O’Keeffe continued on his own for another 10 days of hut touring, much of it staying in unstaffed huts. Well done Mark – you deserve a medal for your days spent marooned in blizzard conditions and long days of battling through deep snow on your own. Some would say you are mad – but well done for your perseverance and getting through against all odds!