Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter

AreasVisbretind Massif5.1 Visbretind › Alternative Routes

There are 3 routes up Visbretind. While the easiest starting place of any of these 3 routes is Leirvassbu lodge it is also possible to have either Spiterstulen lodge, Olavsbu cabin or at a push even Gjendebu lodge, as starting places for some of them. The 3 routes are:

  1. The south flank via Kyrkjeoksle and Langvasshøi with Leirvassbu lodge as the starting point. This is the easiest route and is the route I have described in the main section as the preferred route.
  2. The south flank via Langvatnet and Langvasshøi with Leirvassbu lodge, Olavsbu cabin or even Gjendebu lodge as the starting point.
  3. The classic north ridge with Leirvassbu or Spiterstulen lodges as the starting point, which entails some exciting scrambling.

South Flank Route via Langvatnet and Langvasshøi

The south flank via Langvatnet and Langvasshøi is not the best route as it involves extensive clambering across steep boulders. The ascent starts at the junction of paths Ra.2 and Ra.8 at the west end of Langvatnet lake.

Visbretind full size mapTo get to this point come over Høgvaglen pass from Leirvassbu lodge on Ra.2 for 2 hours or over Rauddalsbandet pass from Olavsbu cabin on Ra.8 for 1½ hours. Alternatively come up from Gjendebu lodge for 4 hours on Ra.2.

Once at the junction leave the path junction and follow the small brook which tumbles down from the shallow bowl to the north. The pleasant stable tundra does not last long and soon boulder fields start to litter the steepening slopes.

It takes a good 1½ hours to clamber up the boulders to the saddle between Kyrkjeoksle and Langvasshøi. This is a steep ascent and sections of the boulders are loose. There are some vegetated areas which make easier going and some slabby outcrops which have to be avoided.

In the early part of summer there are some snowfields but these disappear quite rapidly as the summer progresses. As you approach the saddle there is a small snowfield. If this is icy then it can be avoided by skirting round the lower edge and to the east side of it.

From the saddle, where you meet the preferred route described below, climb the short slope of unstable scree up the west side of Langvasshøi. Continue to the summit as per the preferred route. Allow 3 hours from the path junction by Langvatnet lake to the summit itself.

The descent is by the preferred main route below to Leirvassbu lodge allowing 3 hours or down the same route to Langvatnet lake allowing 2½ hours.

Visbretind is an impressive mountain from most angles, however it looks especially graceful from the northIt may also be possible to descend down steep, and sometimes wet and slippery slabs on the east side of the saddle between Visbretind and Langvasshøi onto the snowfields and moraine debris of a recently vanished glacier into a basin. Once in this basin descend to Langvatnet lake.

North Ridge Route

The route up the north ridge is something of a classic. The route starts at Leirvassbu lodge and heads off on the path Vi.1 round the stony tundra terrain on the north shore of Leirvatnet lake.

After a km the marked path leaves the shoreline and heads into the deep gap between Kyrkja and Tverrbytthornet called Kyrkjeglupen. Here it passes to the north of a few small tarns and some surprisingly bouldery terrain for 3 km until you reach the largest and most eastern tarn called Kyrkjetjønne.

After 1½ hours leave the marked path here, at the watershed, and head south across the stony tundra to the base of the moraine ridge at the bottom west side of Visbreen glacier. If starting at Spiterstulen lodge make for this same point by coming up Visdalen on the path Vi.1 on the east side of the Visa river for about 3½-4hours.

Clamber up this ridge of steepening moraine for a good ½ hour to reach a small mound of debris. Just after this mound the moraine gives way to the bare rocky base of the arête which initially is composed of bare slab. Clamber up these slabs occasionally using you hands for a long, but very gratifying, ½ hour. To the west the views to Kyrkja improve as you climb, but to the east sensational views unfold over the heavily crevassed Visbreen glacier.

The north ridge of Visbretind is a classic and exhilarating scrambleTowards the top of this section the slabs are replaced by blocks, the ridge narrows and there are a couple of more airy points. Past these points at just over the 2000 metre mark the ridge has two small pinnacles. The first is easy to clamber up but there is a steeper scramble down some 10m to the easy bouldery slope up to the second. Again there is an easy 10m scramble down the south side of this second higher pinnacle.

After the pinnacles the ridge levels off as it traverses across the arête for 100 metres to the reach the base of the final climb. This final climb is steep, sustained and occasionally airy. However, the scrambling on this section is on firm rock and is only grade II. It should not pose any problems in the dry to those used to a bit of exposure.

After a good ½ hour of clambering and scrambling up this last slope you suddenly reach the short summit ridge which is followed for 150 metres to the airily perched cairn.

The return is either by the same route to Kyrkjeglupen in Visdalen. Allow 4½-5 hours round trip to Kyrkjaglupen and then add on the 1½ hours or 3½ to Leirvassbu lodge or Spiterstulen respectively.

Alternatively descend the south flank and back to Leirvassbu lodge via Langvasshøi, allowing 8 hours round trip. If returning by this latter route it is very feasible to crown the day with an ascent up Kyrkja before you descent to Leirvassbu lodge allowing an extra 2 hours making 10 in all. For further details including the Kyrkja ascent see the main route below and the Kyrkja page.