Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter

AreasVisbretind Massif › 5.3 Store Urdadalstind (2116m)

Store Urdadalstind, 2116m, rises up sharply from the southern end of Visdalen. Its spectacular profile is often flaunted in photographs up the valley from Spiterstulen lodge. The mountain is the highest and most southerly point of the compact, but magnificent, Urdadals ridge which boasts another mountain, Midtre Urdadalstind, and a sensational arête over numerous pinnacles going south from that mountain to the southern end of the ridge. These two mountains and the pinnacles to the are often combined into a long, but exciting, day which traverse the entire ridge.

The Route from Spiterstulen Lodge
total distance for return trip20km   
total ascent and descent1040m   
total time for return journey 7-8hrs
difficulty rating - 6season: mar, apr, may, jul, aug, septno skiingno glacier crossingno climbingpossible but not advisable in wet conditions

From Spiterstulen lodge follow the marked path Vi.1 south up Visdalen. This path runs some 2-300 metres to the east of the Visa river on a good path through the willow scrub. After a good hour you come to the 2 bridges that span the glacial torrents that tumble down from Heillstugu glacier to the east.

Store Urdadalstind full size mapCross these and continue up the path Vi.1 beside the Visa river for another good ½ hour until you get to a signposted fork where the marked path Me.2 forks to the south and climbs gently up into the Urdadalen Valley.

Take this southern fork up into Urdadalen Valley and follow it for about 1 km when you should be below a small gorge which the stream Urdadalsbekken runs through.

It is probably best to cross this stream below the gorge to reach its west side, although it is possible to cross higher up also. Follow the west side up until you reach the bottom of the north ridge.

North Ridge

Here the north ridge is initially quite craggy and it is best to continue a few hundred metres to the south of the ridgeline rather than tackle the ridge head on. Start to weave up through outcrops across the tundra covered slope until you gain the ridge.

Store Urdadalstind rises magnificently from the upper reaches of Visdalen valleyAbout a third of the way up the ridge is the first interesting obstacle. It is a very easy 15 m sloping crag with 2 or 3 different routes up it.

From the top of this easy crag the next third of the ridge is straightforward. Again it is easier to keep slightly on the east side of the ridge for this middle third section as the ground is softer and more even. This is especially pertinent if returning this way on the descent.

The end of this middle third is heralded by a the narrowing of the broader ridge into a narrow arête which is quite airy on the east side. It is best to keep on the west edge of this one metre wide and 50 metre long platform.

From this arête the final third of the ridge is of a completely different character. The ridge broadens out again but is craggy and involves numerous easy scrambles. The first is soon, 100m after the arête, and is a huge boulder with a ½m crack in the middle of it. This can be avoided on the west side but climbing up the crack provides a safe and interesting challenge.

Store Urdadalstind seen from Store Heillstugutind to the eastAfter another 75m there is a slightly overhanging rock which provides another short and not difficult challenge. This again can be avoided on the west side. From the top of this overhanging crag there is a short bouldery walk to a false summit.

Here the main summit, with its huge cairn of stones, comes into view some 250 metres away across a relatively easy arête. The entire ascent up the north ridge from the valley takes about 2 hours.

The Return

The return is by the same route. However, you could also continue south to the middle top and then top 2017m to traverse one of the finest ridge walks in the whole of the Jotunheimen.

This lofty traverse is highly recommended, but will add an extra 4 hours onto the total tour time. It is also unwise to do this traverse in anything but stable dry conditions, when care is needed on many sections but the use of ropes are not necessary for those who are used to a bit of grade exposed II climbing; which is no more than scrabbling.

The upper third of the north ridge of Store Urdadalstind seen from the northFor the descent to the saddle to the south see the alternative routes section, and for the remainder of the traverse up the north ridge of Midtre Urdadalstind and the arête to the south of this mountain see the Midtre Urdadalstind page. This traverse is equally good in either direction.

Store Urdadalstind can also be climbed in the winter/spring season but the steep 35-40 snow covered slopes and occasional crags make it unsuitable for those inexperienced in such conditions. The traverse however is a much more serious undertaking during the winter or spring.