It’s a sweaty hike up to the summit at 1417 meters above sea level, but it is more than worth the effort.
Not for nothing has Keipen been called Sognefjord’s answer to Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock): the view is straight down to Sognefjord if you dare stick your nose out over the edge. It’s a view that is indescribably beautiful, and so spectacular that you really must hold on if great heights make you dizzy.
This trail starts from Esebotn down beside the fjord and goes up to Keipen at 1417 meters above sea level. It is a hike for which you must be prepared to burn calories, but it is also a hike that is worth all the effort it takes to accomplish it.
250 hours of voluntary renovations
The trail is in the process of being renovated to make the spectacular view over Sognefjord more easily accessible. The work started last year as a group of volunteers spent about 250 hours to fix the trail, manage the applications for financial support and get a Sherpa team in place.
“We want the trail to be more friendly for the public. Now, we have started a new route on the west side of Gulleple, to make this part of the trail a little less difficult. It is also not quite so boggy here and easier to walk,” says Einar Inge Målsnes, who has been project manager for the renovation.
Help from Nepalese Sherpas
Målsnes is a truly committed soul, who, together with the group of volunteers, managed to find funding from among others Visit Sognefjord, the Municipality of Balestrand and the County of Sogn og Fjordane. This allowed them to purchase construction help from four Nepalese Sherpas.
“They are steep-terrain experts, and work like heroes. We flew them up by helicopter every day for two and a half weeks so they could use all their strength on building the trail. That did wonders,” says Jørgen Hundseth, a key man in the group of volunteers.
They hope to continue this year to finish the steps through the scree under Gulleple. The trail further up is the one the ‘local Sherpas’ must work on.
“We are dependent on more funds, which we hope will be granted soon. Then we’ll be ready to recommence this summer. In addition, applications for funds have been made to return the stone steps at Yglebotn to their original, 1885 state,” says Johannes Sjøtun, a business manager in Balestrand who is responsible for project economics.
“If we manage to make as much progress this year as we did in 2016, the trail to Keipen will received a huge boost and become a popular trip to a unique vista over Sognefjord,” he adds.
Lots of history along the trail
This is a part of the trail where a collaborative effort has been made by Balestrand and Høyanger turlag, the Municipality of Balestrand and Visit Sognefjord to renovate the trail and the cultural history along it.
On the way in from the parking lot at Esebotn, the old stone walls Anders Gjerde built as he cultivated his 7.5 acres (30 mål) in the 1930s, together with a cement silo. These are the only remains of Gjerde’s out farm buildings which were taken by the Geitaskreda avalanche during the winter of 1941.
The trail up to Yglebotn starts on the other side of the river. Follow the stone-paved trail built by the Gjerda and Grøneng farms during the 1880s. These two farms had two men each to build a road for cows to Langedal in Høyanger. The road was completed in 1885, and you will see 1885 carved into a large rock beside the trail about halfway up to where a trail takes off to the Gulleple mountain farm
“It is a most impressive work of laying stones and building steps they carried out. But now, renovation is imperative to take care of it,” notes Sjøtun.
Join us on a guided hike (NB! The hike is demanding)
Kviknes Hotel offers guided hikes to Keipen in collaboration with Norgesguidene AS. A maximum of eight guests are accepted for each mountain trip to maintain good safety and follow-up. This is a hike that at times is steep, exposed and close to the edge, so we recommend that our advanced hiking guests go with a guide.
The hike is 14 km long, and has a difference in altitude of almost 1500 meters (which varies a bit with the choice of route). The trip itself takes time, between 7 and 9 hours, but the experience is completely unique. A guide will also be able to tell you more about the history of this beautiful valley.
Read more about the guided hike to Keipen.