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Balggesvarri (1,627 m), Lyngen Alps, Troms, North Norway

Balggesvarri is a set of summits in the southern part of the Lyngen Alps, slightly south of Jiehkkevarri. The highest summit [1,627 m; latitude 69º 25.856' N; longitude 19º 52.474' E] is in the form of a very small ice-field which feeds a few glaciers. Slightly to the north there is a rock summit (1,564 m) which has a steep north east face, and which looks over to the south east face of Jiehkkevarri.

On 4 August 2004, a hot and sunny day, I had the fortune to climb the 1,627 m and 1,564 m summits of Balggesvarri from a camp at 215 m in Goverdalen, near the confluence with the river coming down Sløkedalen. I proceeded up Sløkedalen to the 1,220 m col between the southern end of the Jiehkkevarri massif and Balggesvarri's 1,564 m rock summit. With the exception of an isolated green expanse at ca 500 m elevation, Sløkedalen was moraine and loose rock almost all the way to the col. The barren landscape was relieved by a small corrie lake, with icebergs, at ca 810 m. From the col I outflanked the bottom of the steep north-facing ribs coming down from Balggesvarri, by proceeding a short way up a rudimentary glacier coming down on the west side of the ribs. Avoiding a loose gully, I was able to get up an open slanting slot which led me to the easily graded higher part of the main rib. From that point access to peak 1,564 m was easy. The view from that summit was very fine—both the spectacle of Jiehkkevarri's south east face, and the impressive drop down Balggesvarri's north east face to the glacier below.

I had originally entertained some doubts about crossing over to the snow summit (1,627 m) because of the potential for crevasses. There was a 400 m section to cross on the summit ice-field, and the terrain strongly suggested that the main hazards would be on the convex slope coming down to the shoulder connecting the ice-field and the rock summit. Much of the slope in question was without snow-covering and, although small crevasses could be seen in places, the ice-slope directly above the shoulder was clear of crevasses. The absence of crampons however meant that there was significant work for the ice-axe. Cutting steps in the wet ice to gain 15 - 20 m to the point where the slope levelled off took quite some time. On the flatter part of the ice-field there were signs of just one crevasse that was almost certainly too small to represent a hazard. The 1,627 m summit provided more open views to the south and west.

Two days later, on 6 August, I completed my exploration of the Balggesvarri area by completing a crossing from Goverdalen to Lyngsdalen, via Veidalen. This was done with a fairly heavy pack. It was another hot day. By completing this route I in effect accomplished a west to east traverse on the southern side of Balggesvarri.

The route was mostly unforgiving loose rock underfoot, particularly on the western side and on the top section. At ca 400 m on the western side, in Goverdalen, there was a trap in the form of an expanse of jumbled large boulders that was largely invisible from below. I managed to avoid this trap, having carried out a reconnaissance a few days earlier. Summit lake 776 m was very beautiful on a fine summer's day, but getting past it was awkward. I avoided the glacier on the south side, and chose the steep loose slope on the north side. I had to climb to 860 m to outflank some cliffs at the east end of the lake. The country gradually eased off as one went east, and Veidalen was a delight to behold, being relatively green. I took shelter for a while as a thunderstorm passed, and finally reached Dalbotn in Lyngsdalen, where I pitched my tent. After very hot weather, the river at Dalbotn was exceptionally high, and crossing it could well have been exceedingly difficult. I was happy not to try.

Alan Law

21 August 2004

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