At a height of 1,916 metres (6,286 feet), Oksskolten is the highest mountain in Northern Norway. It takes between 10 and 12 hours to get up and down, and the reward is the view from Vega to Lofotodden and far into Sweden.
On the first Sunday in September, we hiked up Oksskolten. The peaks were shrouded in fog, and the north wind made it chilly. However, the weather forecast was quite good, and we really wanted to do it. We stayed overnight in the Kjensvasshytta cabin beside Kjennsvatn lake, about 500 metres (1,640 feet) above sea level, which you can get to in the summer season on a gravel road from Umbukta near Mo i Rana.
You climb through the forest and crunch across the glacier
The first hour of ascent was through fairly steep mountain forest, and it took us an hour to reach Austisen, part of the Okstindbreen glacier. So late in the season, the glacier is blue-tinted, and full of stones and gravel. We put on our crampons and followed our guide as he criss-crossed the glacier. You are recommended to rope up, but it’s easy to see which way to go. The ice splinters under your feet, and the cracks run like blue scars through the ice. We got all the way across in quarter of an hour.
Steep and unyielding, even after the glacier
Now that the glacier was behind us, we had to face a rather steep rock wall. In some parts, there was loose gravel, and in others we had to negotiate bare rock. Not far up there were also long snow-filled gullies, and at one point we put our crampons back on to cross an extremely steep gully. All the while, we had views down over the glacier and lake below us, though the peaks were still wreathed in mist. Finally, the gradient flattened out a bit, and we walked along a ridge with Austisen far below us. And then the summit appeared, a steep ridge of glittering black scree between patches of fog. This was going to be a challenge!
Frequently asked questions about the Oksskolten hike
Oksskolten is found in Hemnes kommune in Nordland county
If in good shape the trip should take you around 10-12 hours
Yes, crampons are essential to cross the glacier to the top. The glacier is not difficult to walk on, but knowledge of glacier morphology and dangers is needed.
Kjennsvasshytta is a natural starting point for your trip up Oksskolten.
It is not recommended to attempt hiking Oksskolten on a day with bad weather.
Good mountain shoes, crampons, water and windproof jacket and trousers. A wool underlayer, hat and mittens are also a good idea, even in summer it can be cold up there.
The high season runs from July to early September before the first snows. From mid September the days are shorter and the air colder.
There is much to see on the way up
As we set off at great pace up the slope, we soon found out why the summit was glittering. The stones were actually covered in a layer of snow. We squeezed between huge boulders, hauled ourselves up with our arms, leaned on rock walls as we negotiated wobbly stones, and toiled ever upwards. At least our GPS showed that we were gaining altitude fast. The fog was thinning out rapidly, and the sun began to break through. Hundreds of metres below, we could see the crevasses of Austisen through the mist.
The views are incredible, if the weather plays ball
Finally, the summit cairn gleamed before us in the sun. The views east towards Sweden were phenomenal, while to the north we could see the blue twinkle of Gressvatn lake. To the south, the 1,901 metre (6,237 feet) Okshornet peeped out through patches of fog. However, the Helgeland coast and all its views from Vega to Lofotodden were still hidden by the mist. We’ll have to come back another time for them. Below the summit cairn was a little area in the lee of the wind, where we could eat our packed lunches.
Oksskolten requires good fitness to complete
We went in a group with a varied age range, and not everyone had mountain experience. However, everyone was fit, and with plenty of packed lunches and energy in the form of nuts and chocolate in reserve, we all felt good throughout the day, with the hike taking us 10 hours. If you do the climb between mid-June and mid-August, you don’t need to worry about when it gets dark, and you can take as long as you like. Although Oksskolten is steep, there are no vertiginous sections.
Get more information on Oksskolten
Visit Helgeland is happy to answer questions on Oksskolten and the Okstindan mountains.