Though not far in distance, it is a good 5 hour drive from Flåm to the Geirangerfjord, and therefore we had not made it there the last time we lived here. This summer we aim to explore as much as possible in our own fjord and the Nærøyfjord, but this was the one trip we planned away. And we planned it as soon as possible, to avoid the arrival of the masses from June to August.
The long drive was beautiful. We chose to head north over regional roads passing Beitostølen and Lom, hence driving through Jotunheimen National Park. We had high hopes to camp somewhere along the way in these beautiful mountains, but the weather was terrible: we had to abandon plan, and drive for a long time to get ahead of snow and rain. As we drove on after a short night the sun peeped out when we came closer to Geiranger. We missed the viewpoint on Dalsnibba by simply not knowing what it was, and drove straight into town to find that it was already more than crowded enough. So we did what we always do and what we came to do: seek refuge in the surrounding mountains.
Now Geiranger is a wild fjord. Whereas the Aurlands- and Nærøyfjorden have been inhabited since the viking era, lying on the crossroads between Bergen and the east, Geiranger is more remote and harder to penetrate. Along the steep, high mountains walls lie only a handful of historical farms. Since we came so early in the season our choices were limited. Many of the steep mountain sides were still covered in snow.
We stayed in the lower lands and decided to hike out to the old farms of Homlongsæter and Skageflå. The trail led through the woods that towered high above the cliffsides of the fjord. It was a beautiful hike: we watched the blue water deep below, and many paddlers making their way to and from the village. We reminded ourselves that we had to order our packrafts soon. We wanted to camp at Skageflå but as we arrived we saw a helicopter landing on the grass, an unpractical event that we did not anticipate. We made the steep ascent and descent anyway and marvelled at the Seven Sisters. It rained well by the time we got there and did not stop for the rest of the night, so we tried to make ourselves comfortable inside our tent that was at quite the angle at Homlongsæter.
As we descended back to Geiranger the next day, two large cruiseships had invaded its waters and its streets. We fled as fast as we could and took the next ferry over to Hellesylt, where the highlight of this trip would be: the Sunnmøre Alps.
Our to-do list featured many peaks, but one in particular had drawn our attention: Slogen. Slogen is so popular in the area that a local fan club has made t-shirts featuring it. Now that could only be promising. Again, though, the weather was not entirely on our side. Slogen and the surrounding mountains hid in the clouds, so we waited and waited, played kubb, spent the night, hoping it would show itself. We judged that going 1500m up just to get stuck in the clouds was not worth it. And we wanted to have that glimpse first to have a look at the amount of snow on the mountain.
It did not get better by the next morning yet we drove to the trailhead anyway. In a brief opening we saw Slogen gleaming white high above us. Then it was away again. Pj judged it was not worth it, that we should turn home and come back another time when the weather odds were better. I would not turn before we had even tried, and was chancing that the clouds would be low enough to we could break through them. I chased my grumpy companion up the mountain and lucky enough for me, I was right.
In 3,4km the narrow trail ascends 1500 vertical meters to the top, making it steeper than our own famous Rimstigen. But what it is more than anything, is worth it. I’ve seen a fair amount of good views in my time yet only a few could top this one. In the depths beneath us lay a green valley, locked between nearly vertical walls, peering through clouds and fog that hung stuck on the mountain sides. Above us towered razor-sharp peaks and impossible ridge lines, a view to the like of a day in the high alps. And then we did not even make it to the peak yet. Once again we got stuck due to an overload of snow, and a lack of crampons and ice axes. Though we felt a bit as if we were becoming the “almost-made-it-club”, the view was still too good to have it spoiled.
Another reasons we did not proceed to the peak was avalanche danger. The snow on the slope running up the final 300 meters faced the sun directly. Snow already tends to get heavy and prone to sliding when it gets warm in spring, more so on a sunny day, and even more so in the afternoon. As we descended an avalanche thundered down to the side of us. It was majestic to see, from a safe distance. But it made us think back and re-evaluate that this was a good choice, and it made PJ, who has once been in one, nervous. We proceeded with a hunch of haste to get past those two snow fields we had to cross on the way down.
Five hours later the clouds that rolled in and out of the valley had offered us countless views along the way. We were very satisfied, when we came down, and immediately vowed to drive back here and make it to the peak of one of Norway’s most scenic peaks that time around. We drove more beautiful roads back to Flåm, ending the first successful road trip of the season.