The Ridge

I've focused on the two big races I did this summer - Xreid (part 1part 2) and UTMR 100k (part 1part 2). In the coming weeks I'll write about what filled the time in between.

I'm not terribly fond of bucket lists. I don't like the feeling of 'having' to 'check off' experiences on a list. Still, I'll admit I dwell on certain objectives more than others.

Rondane entices peak-baggers with ten 2000 meter peaks within a tight radius. An obvious challenge is to see how quickly one can link them, often referred to as 'Rondane 2k Marathon' (kind of a joke, as the route ends up being roughly a marathon in distance but takes many people 16-18 hours).

The going in Rondane is not easy. The mountains are big piles of loose rocks, and the few trails that wander through the region are little more than red T's painted on the rocks.

Pål enjoys the sun outside of Rondvassbu.
Central to Rondane 2k Marathon the link-up between Veslesmeden and Storsmeden, two peaks often climbed first in the route. I had never done this ridge before, and as anyone who has tried to read reports about off-trail scrambling online knows, steepness and exposure are often subjective matters.

I convinced my friend Pål that it would be a good idea to scout part of the Rondane Marathon route. One slightly overcast day in July, we set off from a long breakfast at Rondvassbu hut towards Veslesmeden.

On the first, long climb, Pål was queasy from the large breakfast, and I was stoic and nervous about the ridge to come. The cloud cover was a smidge too low for my likely. Still, when we came up to the plateau below Veslesmeden and finally saw the ridge, I started to get excited. I was finally going to do it!

Pål on the way up Veslesmeden - with the ridge to Storsmeden in the background.

It was chilly on top of Veslesmeden, a welcome contrast to the summer heat in Oslo. We didn't stay on the summit for long; this, after all, was only a prelude. We backtracked downhill a little and clambered out on to the ridge.

The cloud cover now divided the ridge neatly in two: A swirling abyss of white on one side and a mass of grey rock on the other.

On the ridge. Photo: Pål

There was a faint, but distinct, tread along the ridge, and the descent to the saddle point was no problem. It was ascending where things got spicy, involving some hand-over-hand climbing in near vertical terrain.

Steep!

The final push to the summit was a little more confusing. Luckily some hikers before us had put up small cairns in critical places.

Almost on top of Storsmeden.

After the summit of Storsmeden, we decided to continue on the Rondane 2k Marathon route and scout Trolltinden. The descent between the peaks was chossy if not as steep as the terrain we had just passe through.

We followed another dramatic ridge over the subpeak of Trolltinden. This one was possibly even more aesthetic than the first; you could just imagine Kilian Jornet jumping from rock to rock. The clouds that had threatened to enswathe the mountains had opened up and the majestic rocky landscape was spread out at our feet.

The ridge towards Trolltinden. Photo: Pål

The ridge grew more exposed, and the track dipped down to go around before ascending to the peak of Trolltind. When I say track I simply mean a tread worn in by people passing through; there is no trail in this area and the easiest route to the summit wasn't obvious.

On top of Trolltinden, with slightly bloody knees (no idea how!). Photo: Pål


On the summit of Trolltinden, I checked my email and found a response from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration - my application for dual citizenship had gone through! It seemed appropriate to receive the news of my Norwegian citizenship while in the Norwegian mountains, as the mountains are sort of a nationalistic symbol.

The descent off of Trolltinden was awful. The rocks grew into refrigerator-sized boulders with ankle-breaking gaps between them. I couldn't imagine trying to run down this... Although if I were trying to run the Rondane 2k Marathon I would have to make good time!

Picking our way down Trolltinden.

When we finally picked up the trail through Verkilsdalen, we could start to move at what felt like a million miles an hour. The valley itself was stunning, and we vowed come back and explore it (and the surrounding peaks) properly some other time.

Today we had a boat to catch. The clock was ticking before the last boat back to Rondvassbu would depart. If we missed it, we would have to put in another 10 kilometers and nearly 800 vertical on our poor legs.

The trail! Through Verkilsdalen.

The time limit spurred us on, and we made it to the lake with time for a refreshing dip before the boat came to pick us up.

The next day, the weather had worsen, and we put in a half-hearted climb up Storronden before heading out. I had crossed off my main objective and was basically happy. I optimistically signed the hut book "Rondane 2k Marathon next!" Time to tick that off the bucket list.

The 2000 meter peaks of Rondane from Spranget parking. I'll be back!
{Strava here}

- The Wild Bazilchuk

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