Kjenndalsbreen glacier of Norway

One of my favourite alternative suggestions for visitors when I worked at the Jostedalsbreen Visitor Center was to visit Kjenndalsbreen glacier instead of Briksdalsbreen glacier. Briksdalsbreen is the most well-known and easy accessible glacier in the area, but Kjenndalsbreen is far more beautiful and much less crowded than Briksdalsbreen… and the narrow pictorial road along lake Lovatnet – leading you into the Kjenndalen glacier – will give you a godsmacking experience for sure!

The magnificent Kjenndalsbreen is a glacier spur of the main glacier Jostedalsbreen – I didn’t have a zoom lens, so this is one of the closest photo I could getKjenndalsbreen glacier

And I would not claim this if I hadn’t visited them both, Briksdalsbreen many years ago when I was attending tourism and travel-school has retreated a lot, and Kjenndalsbreen last spring/summer have retreated again too, but are still looking good – it was an absolutely breathtaking moment when the weather gods finally let the sun break through that magic evening – simply a “bellissimo viaggio”.

This was the first of 3 bicycle trips I did to Loen area when I was working in Oppstryn for a month. The weather was a bit dull & grey when I decided to pack my stuff and bicycle 35 km into the beginning of Lovatnet and stay over night.

Steep and narrow roads with great views – it is not boring I can promise you. And wow what a job to build these roads in the old days! Steep Norwegian roads Lovatnet

I intended to sleep in my tent, but when I had a “dinner-break” at Loenvatn Feriesenter I ended up getting a discount on a cabin since it was early season and I was solo. The friendly chef had a lot of knowledge about the glaciers in the area and also about the tragic history regarding the accidents at Ramnefjellet.

He also lended me a book about this, so if you want first hand information regarding these subjects, make a stop at this place! Combined with great food (their traditional “kjøttkakemiddag” is delicious – try it!), smiling faces and awesome views I had a very very nice and informative stay.

Back at the lodge that evening I went down to this little pier right below my cabin – and managed to take this nice photo of Lovatnet before the sun disappeared and the wind and rain took over during the night. Lovatn Feriesenter view

So, when I had packed up I decided to bike the remaining 17 km into Kjendalsbreen that same evening, as the weather seemed to lighten up even more. The bike trip into the glacier was a real thrill, and before the last km of gravel road starts you will have to move along some narrow steep road hammered in the mountain side…with a first class view to the rock slide wounds of the famous Ramnefjellet – wow what a magic evening!

On my way back to the cabin with the base of Ramnefjellet mountain in the background. Along this narrow road you will find information and a memorial tablet for the 74 people who died (41 never found) due to the 2 rock slides/flood waves caused by RamnefjelletLovatnet bicyel trip kjenndalen

There is a little parking lot and a outhouse at the end of the gravel road leading to Kjenndalsbreen glacier. You can fill your water bottle in the glacial river with clear conscience, just don’t fall into it. You have to walk 10-15 minutes on a trail if you want to get closer. There will be warning signs to stop you from going to close, mostly because of the falling rocks you will hear now and then from the mountain sides. It is a steep valley alright.

I found a big rock to sit on and just try to take in the magnificent views of the glacier and it’s surroundings – the glacier looks like ice candy and sugar fluff (I guess I was a lil’ bit hungry) 

At first I was totally alone there, but as the evening sun gradually broke through, 4 or 5 other persons popped up here and there to view this magnificent sight. The glacier has retired quite a bit alright, but is still an impressive sight up there with its white and blue ice. This valley will surround you with its many never-ending waterfalls, some greenery and the river flowing from the glacier in the middle – it is just one of the steepest and most beautiful valleys i have ever been to – ice-cold paradise! 

Back in the cabin for a meal and an evening sofa relax – with a view towards Lovatnet and Kjenndalsbreen at the far end of the lake. Well, good night then!loen lodge cabin view lovatnet feriesenter

Travel information/advice:

  • Stay in a cabin with great view, restaurant and bar, or hire a kayak at Loenvatn Feriesenter 
  • At the camping site Sande Camping nearby you can also rent a fishing rod
  • Before the last km gravel road you can take a break at Kjenndalstova café
  • You can also get to the cafe with the cruise boat MS Kjenndal
  • Bring a warm jacket and cap – the wind in the glacier valley can be rough

Click on the map to view it in detail live on Google MapMap Oppstryn Stryn Loen Kjenndalsbreen bicycle trip

Ice climbing in ice caves – Larsbreen glacier

Where the wind cannot reach you. Just look at this beauty folks – it’s simply magnificent glittering art made by nature . I believe this must be a part of a frozen UFO..ha..ha.. 😉

Frozen ice cave svalbard nature glacier Larsbreen Spitsbergen photo liss myraas

 

So, the main goal for my quick trip to Svalbard was to do a frozen ice climb in the dark ice caves inside Larsbreen glacier. Fortunately I met an adventure-seeking soldier/NY policeman to join me so we could do this together with our Italian climbing guide. You should not go outside the safety zones of the town Longyearbyen due to the risk of meeting an ice bear, so our guide also brought his shotgun for protection, which is standard equipment when moving around on Svalbard.

This cosy dog was patiently waiting for his master outside the ice caves entrance – and of course I wanted to give him a big hug and cuddle before crawling down into the caves – away from the wind and falling snow – and into the silence.

Svalbard larsbreen ice cave climb dog liss myrås

 

We walked with snow shoes from our stay at Nybyen – and it mostly went steep upwards for about 90 minutes in moderate wind. Up there we prepared to go down into a narrow hole in the snow. After descending down a passage and a rope ladder we reached a wider area to sit down to arrange our gear and have some warm lunch.

It was an amazing feeling to be totally surrounded by this frozen, glittering ice world with ice crystals, icicles, ice formations – frozen art work wherever you turn your head – what an absolutely brilliant place to ice climb!

Snow stairs, narrow holes, rope ladder and ropes – it all leads down to a completely unique and amazing underworld of ice! (Now I wonder how it looked like before some few people vandalised precious ice formations down here)  Frozen ice cave entrance svalbard nature glacier Larsbreen Spitsbergen photo liss myraas

 

With helmets, headlights, crampon’s and harness on we walked/wriggled along the ice passages/meltwater channels to the first descent. We rappelled down about 4-5 meters, and continued walking/wriggle slightly downwards to the next rappel which is a 15 vertical meters deep moulin.

It was indeed a very special feeling forme to go backwards down into the dark …alone.. (I could not help getting a flash from that scary movie “The Descent” while waiting down at the bottom by myself ..moaahhaa).

 

Our skilled Italian climbing guide rappelling down the moulin – I knew I was in good hands from the very start.Frozen adventure ice climbing ice cave svalbard nature glacier Larsbreen Spitsbergen photo liss myraas

 

Well down (and in one piece) at the bottom we also tried to crawl under a crack under the glacier, but the glacier had moved a lil’ bit, so it was no longer possible to crawl through there as before. I cant’ say that I was too sad about not having tons of ice pressing over my body against the underlying rocks.  I already had plenty of stars in my eyes from all these perfect natural formations surrounding us while climbing – thrill enough for me I’d say.

It’s narrow here and there inside the ice caves/meltwater channels – but when busy climbing and photographing you get used to it pretty quick – you have to if you want to go deeper!
Larsbreen ice climb ice cave glacier svalbard liss

 

Then we climbed up again – and the 15 meter ice wall moulin was certainly much harder work to ascend – but so goddamn FUN!  So the very next shorter climb was just like a “piece of cake” now – and perfect for training for a better ice climbing technique.

Looking up to where we will be climbing back up soon – pretty amazing view from belowFrozen ice cave meltwater channel svalbard nature glacier Larsbreen Spitsbergen photo liss myraas

 

These frozen meltwater channels have created soo much twist & turns and beauty to grasp – I would need a new visit to concentrate on just photographing! Larsbreen are “slow-moving” glacier, but still no one knows how the channels will look like next year as they tend to change form due to the melting water every summer when the ablation is at it’s highest. Would be interesting to visit again later to see what has changed.

 

Trip advice: 

Svalbard want’s to keep and preserve the nature and its pristine wilderness as much as possible, so please…

Do behave in fragile places like this. Don’t vandalise the caves i ex with your ice axes (only use them where the climbing places are).

Do pee outside before going down into the caves – just ask everyone to look away for a lil’ while