We haven’t managed to hike much of Vesterålen due to the abundant snow this winter, but some freak warm weather came along and torrential rain melted all the snow away. In just one day our lovely white scenery was replaced with a drab, brown landscape. The ground was boggy and all that remained white was the snowy peaks of the mountains and the gully’s that creased down the sides.
Once the rain stopped and some good weather crept in we decided to head out and climb Breidtinden, a 598m mountain. There’s usually avalanche dangers and cornices which are overhanging slabs of ice on mountain precipices so we were lucky to have an opportunity to hike without these added issues. Even though a day of sunshine was predicted we experienced a snow storm on our drive and another one when we began the hike. We even forgot to pack spikes for our shoes as we’d become so accustomed to the horrible boggy ground that we weren’t prepared for a frost again. This meant all the wet trail had turned to ice but we managed to step around the slippery spots and make it up to a plateau. The snow cloud began to drift away and we got a great view across the Hellfjord. The mountains surrounding the fjord were sharp and jagged like the edge of a saw and the fjord was dotted with small islands. It was nice to get a high vantage point as we’ve only seen the Hellfjord by boat or canoe before.
We passed a couple of locals on the way up who were much more prepared than us and were wearing crampons, plus one of them had climbed four of the seven highest mountains in the world so they had just a little more experience than us!! The summit looked quite un-achievable as we peered up at the steep slopes but we figured it was worth a try. We managed to stick to some areas where the snow had melted down to the moss and then we could climb rocks but eventually we reached a completely icy slope. Craig tried jabbing his feet into the ice to make footholds and we made it up quite a chunk but inevitably it became too dangerous. We looked around and realised if we slipped we’d have a hell of a long trip sliding down the mountain so we had to call it a day and give up. I was a little sad as the weather had turned amazing with bright blue skies and I’m sure the view would have been outstanding but alas, not today. We decided to have a fire on a nearby beach afterwards while the sun went down. The mountains behind us were glowing as the sun set and it highlighted the top where three prominent peaks were. A couple of people had mentioned hiking up there so we decided to come back another day and do it.
We still had good weather the following week with plenty of sunshine and no fresh snow so we headed for the three peaks of Mount Trehyrna. It was only a 1.7km hike but it climbed 620m in that short distance. The beginning section led us around the frozen lake and then headed up a series of frozen waterfalls and a stream. We had crampons on this time so we could step with confidence up the ice and it felt like a proper winter adventure. The gully became much steeper the higher we climbed and we soon found it too precarious to walk along so we headed up one of the banks and climbed amongst the bushes, moss and patchy snow. Ptarmigan prints dotted the snow and eventually we saw one flying ahead of us. They kind of look like white doves but with bright red eye-shadow on. They make a ghostly croaking noise with their throats and we ended up seeing a group of four flying below us and some more rustling through bushes.
It was a much steeper climb than we expected and we spent much of our time on all fours, working our way up the slope and grabbing onto branches wherever possible. We planned to veer right and get onto a ridge-line but it was impossible to traverse the steep, icy slope so we stuck to the left and after two hours of hiking we made it to the top. I was relieved when we stepped onto the ridge and had the most incredible view of mountains stretching as far as the eye could see. It was the best view we’ve experienced in Vesterålen with beaches, mountains, lakes and fjords all in one. Sadly we were running out of daylight so there was a huge shadow cast across the mountains so I can only imagine how incredible the view would be in the middle of the day.
We slid back down the mountain on our bums and climbed between the bushes until we reached the lake-shore. There were some footprints on the ice so we figured a local knew it was safe to walk on and we followed his route. It led to a section of natural steps made of sheets of ice and it felt like we were walking up a grand marble staircase in a manor house. Our imagination was quickly replaced with reality as Craig’s foot broke through the ice into the shallow water! We made it back just as the intense, red sun dipped behind the horizon.