This is a great trip in a wide valley with a number of peaks over 2,000 metres on all sides. Nature is powerful here.
This article was first published in Norwegian on Sandalsand på norsk.
What to discover
You may well calculate plenty of time on this hike. In itself it will not be a long, strenuous day. If you are here a beautiful, warm summer’s day, you can swim if you like and if not, spend some time dipping your toes into the chilling water several places along the trail.
The map below is taken from the hiking website Lommekjent and may be seen in full size there. The hike is 15 km and takes at least five hours.
The first 11 to 12 kilometres ascends quite slowly from our lodge at Spiterstulen (1,100 meters) to 1,500 metres altitude, before we walk in for a leisurely landing at the Leirvassbu lodge (1,400 meters) after 15 km.
Up the Visdalen, mountains of Urdadalstindene at the end
The trail follows the river Visa up along the valley of Visdalen. After a few kilometres you have to cross Hellstuguåa on all-year bridges. These bridges may clearly come in handy if the water is running high, as illustrated on the image below.
Bridge over the gushing stream of Hellstuguå
Farther inland, where the stream of Urdalalsbekken must be waded, we also find a division of trails. From here you may continue straight over to Gjendebu. We shall, however, walk in the other direction and cross the stream that comes down from Semelholstjønne and continue towards Kyrkjeglupen and this day’s highest point.
Being a grey week, the weather was not bad and we even caught occasional glimpses of a blue sky and the sun. This naturally makes the overall experience much more pleasant.
Crossing of a side stream to the river of Visa
From here we pass on the north side of two small lakes, Panna and Troget, before we come in for the finishing part along the north side of the Leirvatnet lake. The tourist lodge called Leirvassbu is located on the west side of the lake. Turn around and enjoy the view of where you came from.
Fabulous views when we arrived. Here Leirvatnet lake with Kyrkja (2,032 m) to the right
Leirvassbu is one of the many large catering lodges in Jotunheimen. For someone who had been accustomed to hiking between self-catering cottages in Ryfylkeheiene (southwest in Norway), it was a new experience. A positive experience too. The Jotunheimen lodges are spacious and have relatively good comfort, although it’s not quite mountain hotels we are talking about. However, you may sit down at a prepared dinner table and may eat reasonably well too. Another difference was striking as well: Most lodges have road access, at least in summer.
This lodge boasts of having around 50 summits of more than 2,000 metres within a distance of a single day’s march. It makes the lodge well placed for those who collect the 300 peaks of this height that we have in the country.
Read a brief mention of this hike, Spiterstulen and Leirvassbu on Ut.no.
This is the description of a 6-day round trip from lodge to lodge in beautiful Jotunheimen in the late summer of 1989. Due to the tour’s age it was never meant for publication. However, the round trip was so perfect (“Jotunheimen in a nutshell”) that I included it anyway. I think neither text or images, let alone the basic experience will be significantly different today.
The map shows the route we followed and lodges we visited or stayed at. The boat ride from Gjendebu to Memurubu is not shown. We stayed at all marked lodges except Memurubu. Almost the entire round trip runs within the borders of the Jotunheimen National Park. The map is composed of single maps from Lommekjent.no. A detailed map is included in the introduction to each article. Click on the markers to reveal the names of lodges, click on the lines to get information about a particular leg. (Norwegian text and links only.) Extend the map into a new tab if you prefer.
All legs are described in separate articles. This is the list:
Day 1: Gjendesheim to Glitterheim over Hestlægerhøe
Day 2: Glitterheim to Spiterstulen over Skautflye
Day 3: Spiterstulen to Galdhøpiggen and back
Day 4: Spiterstulen to Leirvassbu
Day 5: Leirvassbu to Gjendebu
Day 6: Gjendebu to Memurubu by boat plus hike Besseggen to Gjendesheim
See photos from this particular hike below. Click for a larger size.