Skiing the Jotunheimen Mountains, Norway : Spiterstulen to Glittertind Peak


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 16, 2015      
Photographer Scott contemplates the possibilities of pepper rocks and oatmeal whiteouts.

Photographer Scott Rinckenberger contemplates the possibilities of pepper rocks and oatmeal whiteouts. Terrain in background is enjoyed during the standard Jotunheimen Haute Route, which we skipped due to weather concerns.

You would think after a half century of ski touring I’d be used to how a trip’s goals evolve in deference to weather. Yet I’ll admit to experiencing mental pain whenever bluebird is desired, but myself and companions instead end up “enjoying” claustrophobic huddles inside an egg of cloud-suffused solar energy.

Here today in the Jotunheimen Mountains, suffusion dominated and I did experience mental pain. We’d already adjusted our goal from doing the whole Jotunheimen Haute Route, skipping the first part due to a lack of snow. Today, Stian’s idea was to reverse a section out of the Spiterstulen Lodge so we could at least check out the terrain — assuming we got a few sucker holes in the clouds.

Adam U follows Stian H up to the Glitter T.

Adam U follows Stian H up to the Glitter T.

During what turned out to be a fairly flat but steadily climbing ski tour we did get a few views of cool terrain, then the white mewled over us like we were sitting in the bottom of an oatmeal can. Just a hundred or so feet below the Glittertind summit (second highest peak in Norway, 2,465 meters) we waited a good half hour for that one little bit of light that sometimes occurs for a summit jog. Not to be. Reversing our route, we skittered over a black peppering of rocks that nicely detuned our skis, then dropped out of the clouds.

Jotunheimen is a national park. You see an occasional sign.

Jotunheimen is a national park. You see an occasional sign.

I got a few laughs on the low-pitch downhill we had to settle for (instead of a nice line we’d spied on the way up). With quite a few weasel toothed rocks lurking under a dusting of hippy pow, and visibility at about 30%, the pro skiers did not exactly produce merchantable art. In fact, I haven’t seen so many wriggle turns since my last trip to Switzerland. We should have been filming; perhaps the results could have enriched a re-edited Warren Miller heli-ski segment from 1984.

Redeeming quality of the tour was views at terrain taken by the Jotunheimen Haute Route. Everywhere are high peaks, glaciers and swooping ridges. As I’ve studied the maps and terrain, it seems one would want to take in this area without rushing, perhaps by staying at one lodge for a few days with even a rest day mixed in. Haute routes are not conducive to such behavior, but itineraries can be adjusted. I’ll be interested to see how alpine ski touring in the Jotunheimen evolves.

Back at Spiterstulen, enjoying an Aass, this became the cliche of the trip: a clearing spell around dinner time that would have been a good 3 hour period of touring and photography weather.

Back at Spiterstulen, enjoying an Aass and hearty meat and potatoes repast, this became the cliche of the trip: a clearing spell around dinner time that would have been a good 3 hour period of touring and photography weather. The next day, we did get out in the afternoon to try and optimize for this. Results were mixed, but a good warmup for day 4 travel over to the crown jewel lodge of the Jotunheimen Haute Route, Leirvassbu Mountain Lodge. Stay tuned.

As an FYI I GPS tracked the trip from Spiterstulen to Glittertinden. With our not making the exact summit it was about 21 kilometers round trip, 1,300 meters gain. Quite a bit of flatter terrain made the route seem longer than an equivalent elevation gain with more efficient climbing, but quite a nice tour nonetheless.

Glittertinden from Spiterstulen, our skiing route marked with purple dotted line.

Glittertinden from Spiterstulen, our skiing route marked with purple dotted line. This is a cutout from UT.NO Norway maps; see link below for live version.

Glittertinden map



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Comments

16 Responses to “Skiing the Jotunheimen Mountains, Norway : Spiterstulen to Glittertind Peak”

  1. Coop May 14th, 2015 11:03 am

    Sweet! Thanks for the post Lou. You better believe I’ve got trip ideas flowing through my mind for next year. Keep up the good work!

  2. Lou Dawson 2 May 14th, 2015 12:58 pm

    More coming. Much more. One thing you guys will like about Norway is it’s commonplace for folks to live in tents, next to the lodges, and pay a small fee for showers. Perfect for budget travel. Get 4 guys renting a car, buy all food at grocery store, travel around and ski. Could work. The locals are super friendly so things can evolve very nicely I’d think. Lou

  3. Louie III May 14th, 2015 2:07 pm

    Wow, looks incredible! That travel plan sounds pretty good, next year!

  4. Matt Kinney May 14th, 2015 4:20 pm

    We may be in the same page lou, Heading to Iceland with Tabitha, skis and skins and whole lot of other BC gear for a couple weeks of “window-shopping” for untracked a bit later today. Doing to with a camper truck, just like tsome who come to ski Valdez. Iceland Air has a direct 6 hour non-stop to Reykavik from Anchorage. Hard to pass up.
    I hear tele is not dead in Iceland.

  5. Lou Dawson 2 May 15th, 2015 1:07 am

    You have to go to Iceland or the North Pole to find your tele compadres, but they exist (grin).

    Actually, we got out with one of the top guides in Norway, Tor Olav Naalsund, does it on tele gear, actually and amazingly, NTN that he hauls up the mountain faster than can be belived!

    http://www.themountainguide.no/

    I’d add that if you have the money and can afford it, hiring a guide including accommodations and transportation is about $200 USD per person per day, which is actually pretty good considering you could easily spend that much on a rental car and hotels, without a guide. Indeed, I’ve been told that aside from dirt bagging, the way to do Norway is by package deals, otherwise the cost is indeed rather alarming.

  6. Magnus May 15th, 2015 2:11 am

    Thrilled to see blogposts from my home country! Check out this story on friflyt.no, the biggest site for freeskiing and BC-touring in Norway (might have to google translate that..)
    Three of Norway’s skimoers are attempting the Joutinheimen Haute Route in one big bite TODAY, and bets are up for how many hours they will use 🙂

    http://www.friflyt.no/Ski/Gaar-for-rekord-paa-Hoegruta

  7. Adam U May 15th, 2015 3:26 am

    Nice start to the story Lou!

    Magnus – Wow, I can’t imagine trying to do the entire JHR in a day.

    VT – It pained me a little bit to leave the tele gear at home for my first trip to the fatherland of the turn that’s given me so much, but sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

  8. Lou Dawson 2 May 15th, 2015 3:49 am

    Adam looked pretty good on that AT gear, let me say.

  9. Jernej May 15th, 2015 4:53 am

    For anyone thinking of Norwegian road trips in rental cars… the (only) sensible option is http://www.rent-a-wreck.no/ Everything else is ridiculously expensive.

    That said, even a week in one of these wrecks will have you wondering why you didn’t simply buy one. Last summer we rented a 98 Volvo V70 for 2/3 the price of VW UP/Skoda Citigo (smallest/cheapest car available) at normal car rental agencies. I’m not joking when I say I could buy that car, in same or better condition, for 11 days worth of what they charged us. But at least it had space for two to sleep comfortably.

    However, as Lou says… once you have the car (and pay for equally expensive gas and food), you’re set and ready to do whatever you want basically for free.

    PS bring your own kayaks if that’s your game. Couldn’t find any to rent anywhere between Oslo, Voss, Bergen…

  10. kevin hj May 16th, 2015 8:07 am

    Looks like tough weather Lou, but anytime you get to hang out in the mountains with Stian you are winning! We’re all jealous here at our desks so keep it coming!

  11. Lou Dawson 2 May 16th, 2015 8:34 am

    Stian is definitely the real deal. I’m definitely out of his league by about 20 years, but fun to be the token blogger along for the ride! Lou

  12. Lou Dawson 2 May 16th, 2015 8:40 am

    Jernej, that’s an interesting idea about buying a car. I do know from what Stian and Erlend told me that petrol cars are ridiculously expensive in Norway, and that probably trickles down to the buy-a-wrecks… if they even let a foreigner buy one. As per a lot of countries they’ve done everything they can to disincentive automobile ownership, but nonetheless the freedom, fun and downright usefulness of owning wheels trumps it all. Electric cars and Google self-drive are going to be so incredibly disruptive, will be fun to watch. Lou

  13. etto May 17th, 2015 3:30 am

    Regarding rental cars. Rent a wreck is not a good option in Norway. Usually you get a crappier car for a higher price than a normal rental… YMMV of course.

  14. Jernej May 17th, 2015 6:24 am

    I simply wrote from my experience with them last August. 1 week with the cheapest car at hertz, europcar et al was 30% more than the much bigger V70.

    But it was, as the name suggests, a wreck. It would pass the yearly technical examination, probably. When I got home I checked, still in bit of a shock over the price and simple curiousity, just how much those cars go for and figured a few days or a week more in the rental would be insanity. I’d rather buy one. Also, if I had the extra time it would be cheaper to drive the 5000 km extra and go in my own car. That was actually the original plan but my brother bailed at the last moment and didn’t feel like doing it on my own.

    To put things in perspective, a weekly rate on Tenerife is about the same as a daily rate in Norway (or Iceland for that matter) comparing identical rental cars. All in all, there is no budget (independent) travel in Norway (other than hitchhiking or on a bike) unless your budget is quite generous. Best economy option is you come as a larger group, or join one in a package deal.

  15. Mike Traslin May 17th, 2015 12:36 pm

    Thanks for the info…. heading to that area in the am by bus….

  16. Jiri November 29th, 2017 2:21 pm

    hey, thanks for this article I hope to do Glittertind on splitboard this spring. Do you know if Galdhopiggen (or actually the Svellnose side peak) is skiable down to Spiterstulen as well? thanks





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