Friday, July 10, 2009

More Mountains and More Glaciers: Briksdalbreen and Dalsnibba

Mountains, glaciers, waterfalls...everywhere

Me at the National Park boundary

Briksdal glacier

Up closer; click to enlarge and see them touching the ice

Atop Dalsnibba, cairns everywhere

Geiranger and Geirangerfjord from Dalsnibba

Up close of the cruise ship leaving

We detoured again today, driving up the Olden valley, past beautiful high lakes, mountains, glaciers, waterfalls all around, to the Briksdalbreen, the Briksal glacier. It's a 4km hike up from the carpark. I'm beginning to think of the Jostedalsbreen, the big glacier, as rather an ice field, like the Columbia Ice Field in Banff/Jasper National Parks, in Canada, that covers many square miles, feeds three oceans, and has many glacial outlets. The Briksdalbreen is such an outlet of the Jostedalsbreen, I gather; there were three or four other outlets within the immediate vicinity. Interestingly, glaciologists say now that the Jostedalsbreen had completely melted away 8,000-10,000 years ago, and that all its growth, especially in the mini-Ice Age of the mid-18th century, has been relatively recent. The Briskal glacier reached its greatest extent in 1996-97, but has receded somewhat since then. Micro-climates, they say.

The Briksal glacier, in any case, is large enough, the tongue fairly angular. We walked to within half a kilometer of it, snapped some pix, stopped, and had lunch. I guess our experience in New Zealand, seeing a calving that killed two men, has made us a bit glacier-shy. Plenty of people are not, however. “People just love to touch the ice,” as the Kiwi park ranger said.

We drove back to Olden, then Styrn, and set forth on the “Golden Route,” the alpine road that links our next goal, Geiranger and Geiranger Fiord, with its north and south neighbors. It is a beautiful wide road, with several long (4-5km) tunnels, that winds up into some high and desolate alpine scenery. We got as far as the toll road up the Dalsnippa, a 1500m peak, and decided to follow the tour buses up it. The road was OK, if quite exposed. We entered a white-out several hundred feet from the summit, and resolved to park at the summit until the clouds lifted. We (Vicki) did not want to drive down in the white-out; and we wanted our 80 kroners worth of scenery!

The clouds did lift temporarily about 7PM, and we had some fine views of surrounding peaks, Geiranger and Geiranger Fiord, 1500m below. A big cruise ship was leaving Geiranger. Interestingly, or not, there are six of us parked here at the summit, for the night. At least it should be quiet.

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