Summiting Skamtinden

Skamtinden_2016_013Skamtinden is an impressive peak that rises from the ocean side to nearly 900 m (2950 ft).  It is on the North coast of Ersfjord, one of the most scenic fjords in Northern Norway.  The mountains on the North coast create a tall spine, and climbing this Ersfjordtraversen from Skamtinden to Store Blåmann is a renowned challenge.  We have met climbers at several points along the traverse in the past.  Today we hiked with several friends from the university for our friend Julia’s birthday weekend.

Skamtinden_2016_001The trail to Skamtinden starts at the end of the road in Rekvik.  The trail was initially pretty steep and muddy through some small tree and then willows.  We didn’t go far for the views behind us of Rekvik and the wide open Atlantic behind it to catch our attention.  The entire hike had some of the most incredible views of the ocean and the surrounding mountains.  Further along the trail was drier and progressively rockier.  At a point the main trail split and one branch climbed higher on the ridge going up the mountain.  The other branch stayed a bit lowered, climbing later and through smaller rocks and scree than the first.

Skamtinden_2016_004We reached a flat area that had some excellent views of the steep mountains further to the east.  From here we followed the ridge up and then skirted across the top of a massive scree field to an area just below the summit.  The trail had been quite steep and rocky, but from here hiking turned into serious scrambling.  To the left there was another small rocky top and a the top was a nice flat area that would be great for picnicking.  This is where we left Jack again.  We don’t usually leave Jack by himself, but some hike become to technical and that can endanger him, us working to help him over some obstacles and others around since he can unintentionally behave somewhat recklessly when he’s panicked.  Jack is a very accomplished hiker, but like me he is a bit afraid when things are steep and exposed… good instincts I guess 🙂

At one point in the short distance from here to the real summit, I wished I had left myself at the picnic site with Jack.  This portion of the trail was very steep and rocky.  We scrambled up some large rocks that had decent footing, and was very well travelled.  But then came the challenge for me.  We wrapped slightly along the side of the mountain on a bit of a ledge, with a 2 m drop and very steep scree field below us.  On the other side of the ledge was an interesting obstacle, the footing in the rock required fairly high steps and I used some crack climbing techniques I saw in some Banff film festival movies once upon a time.  There were large rocks with big cracks in them to slowly work your way up.  Someone from the top had to wait while we crawled up it.  Around the corner we walked on one large solid rock that tilted off towards the ocean, I didn’t go to the edge to see how far it dropped from there, maybe a foot, maybe quite more… but I learned my lesson when we recently climbing Hamperokken, so I didn’t look.  While the rock was only slightly tilted and quite solid, there was a lot of small gravel on it that made me unsure of each step.  The final steps was a 2 m climb from the rock to the summit.  I was only able to do it with a little help from my friends.

Skamtinden_2016_009Along the hike we were mostly treated to beautiful views of the ocean, Rekvik and the island of Sessøya.  From the summit we had a 360° view, but for me the most spectacular was the view looking East back towards Tromsø with Ersfjord and the mountains of the Ersfjordtraversen in the foreground.  There was a fishing boat headed into Ersfjord; the only thing disturbing the almost mirror still waters.  We relaxed at the summit for only a short time.  The hike had taken much longer than expected, and we had a birthday party in a really cool cabin in Tromvik to get to.

Skamtinden_2016_015I will say that I liked this technical section even less on the way down.  At one point I was quite sure that I was stuck trying to get from the rock with the cracks in it, back onto the ledge.  Thankfully I got some really great coaching from Jesse and Joe and made it down in one piece.  I was so happy to get back to that massive scree field!  On the way down we decided to try a different trail, one that descended straight from end of the technical portion through the scree.  There was a well defined path through the scree, but it was very dry with a lot of fine gravel to slip on.  After a while of slipping and sliding we decided to cut back over and join the trail that we hiked up on.  Off of the main trail the scree became rock and then gigantic boulder with large holes around them.  It was pretty exciting all around, but well worth the effort.  The problem becomes that there are too many mountains with amazing views and simply not enough time!

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