For over a hundred years, the Austerdalsbreen Glacier along with the three hanging glaciers Loke, Odín and Tor have all been recognized for being the most beautiful ice scenery in Europe. Map to use: Jostedalsbreen Nasjonalpark 1:50000.
The hike from Tungestølen Mountain Cabins along the Austerdalen Valley, where the Austerdalsbreen Glacier is located at the innermost part of the valley, runs through a combination of flat and hilly terrain.
Translation reviewed by Norah Kroken
Visit Sognefjord is the official destination company for the Sognefjord area.
About season and other important information
SEASON: July to August, depending on temperature and snow. This is a landslide-prone area, always make your own evaluation about this danger before and during this hike.
INFORMATION ABOUT ROADS! Remember that many of the roads in western Norway are prone to landslides, especially in rainy and snowy weather. This may include rock falls, rockslides, landslides, debris flows, mud flows, erosion, snow avalanches and rock avalanches. Some of the roads are particularly well-known for their high level of mass movements exposed over them. The road to Veitastrond is one of these exposed roads.
The Austerdalsbreen Glacier is an offshoot of the larger glacier, Jostedalsbreen. The glacier is located in the Austerdalen Valley which is at the innermost part of Veitastrond. To reach this destination you must drive on a 30 kilometer long road from Hafslo, a place a little outside of Sogndal. This road runs alongside the beautiful Lake Veitastrondsvatnet so if you’re not particularly a fan of car rides the scenery will make up for it. From there you will keep driving and take the private toll-road, that is approximately 4-5 kilometers long, that leads to the modern day mountain lodge Tungestølen.
The hike – Austerdalen Valley and Austerdalsbreen Glacier
From the parking lot below Tungestølen you have about a two hour walk to the Austerdalsbreen Glacier.
Now that may seem a little daunting but it’s a very scenic and easy hike. This is due to the fact it is mostly flat terrain. There is an expectation of a few small hills but they are all very doable. You may also come across some moraines, mass of rocks and sediment, that have been created by the glacier due to weathering and erosion but again it’s doable to walk across.
From the viewpoint at the top of the hill, you can see the three glaciers (Loke, Odín, and Tor) hanging down from the plateau glacier Jostedalsbreen. Together they create the beautiful Austerdalsbreen Glacier. During the past few years, the glacier has actually retracted several hundred meters. Because of this, the amount of crevasses or deep cracks have increased. This makes access more difficult and more dangerous than it was just a few years ago. Guide is always recommended if you are walking on the glacier.
NOTE! It can be highly dangerous to hike beside the glacier due to possible falling rocks, debris and rock avalanches from the steep mountainside above. It is encouraged that one admires the beauty of the glacier from distance, from the viewpoint at the top of the hill before reaching the glacier. This is where the hike ends, at the viewpoint where you have the cairn with the plaque made of metal with the inscription with Slingsby´s quote: …“the finest ice scenery in Europe” (see picture to the left).
The top of the hill, with the plaque, was located around 200 meters from the glacier in year 2020 (This will vary. In year 2020, this was the approximately distance, and the glacier is melting and retracting fast now). It is also very important that one NEVER hikes in front of the glacier!
The hike back from the glacier is on the same scenic trail as you came.
DO NOT WALK ON A GLACIER WITHOUT GUIDE! It is also very important that one NEVER hikes in front of a glacier! It is encouraged that one admires the beauty of a glacier from a safe distance.
The last years there have been some fatal accidents by the foot of some glaciers. A glacier is like a river in “slow motion”, glaciers are always moving. This causes the gacier to calv now and then, and sometimes the Glacial River will accumulate under the glacier and come out as a “tsunami”.
– The finest ice scenery in Europe
The three hanging glaciers, Loke, Odín and Tor, joins in the Austerdalen Valley to form the Austerdalsbreen Glacier, all of which have their origins from the Jostedalsbreen Glacier. Austerdalsbreen has a distinctive medial moraine which is created by the two glaciers Odín and Tor. The glacier also has a distinctive pattern of dark and light areas, which can be seen most clearly at a distance. These patterns across the glacier (the geological term Ogives) actually come from the seasons and show the difference between summer and winter and how ice is accumulated at these times.
The Austerdalsbreen Glacier along with the three hanging glaciers Loke, Odín and Tor have all been recognized for being “The finest ice scenery in Europe”. This was the phrase uttered by the famous climbing pioneer William Cecil Slingsby when he, together with Glacier-guide Mikkel Mundal from Fjærland, visited the valley for the first time and saw the spectacular glacier icefalls.
Drone-photos of Austerdalsbreen Glacier:
The hike back from the glacier is on the same scenic trail as you came.
The Lustrafjord and Luster area is deemed to be one of the most beautiful spots in the country. It is where the fjords meet the top of Norway and the mountains and glaciers never end. There are many wonderful and exciting things to see and do there. The oldest historical hotel, the Walaker Hotel, is located here. Visit the world heritage protected Urnes Stave Church and see the mighty Feigumfossen waterfall that reveals itself in the spring. The hike to Mt Molden gives you a fantastic view both inwards and outwards the Lustrafjord. Nigardsbreen glacier in Jostedal and Austerdalsbreen glacier at Veitastrond are two of the most beautiful and most easily accessible glaciers in Norway. Mørkridsdalen and Fortunsdalen are two classic areas for mountain hikes near Skjolden, which is located in the innermost part of the Lustrafjord. Drive Sognefjellet National Tourist Route. Along the road is Turtagrø Hotel where you will get information and guide to Hurrungane which is one of Norway’s wildest mountain areas. Stay at Skjolden Hotel, a great hotel with short-travelled food and beer. The Lustrafjord is a branch of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord.
Accommodation in Luster
Jostedalen – Jostedal Hotel
Jostedalen – Jostedal Camping
Hotel in Skjolden: Skjolden Hotel
Skjolden: Skjolden Resort
Guesthouse in Luster: Nes Gard
Norway´s oldest hotel in Solvorn: Walaker Hotel
Bed & Breakfast in Solvorn: Eplet Hostel & Juicefabrikk
Bed & Breakfast in Solvorn: Villa Solvorn
Hotel at Marifjøra: Tørvis Hotel
Fjord Cabins in Luster: Luster Fjordhytter
Exclusivity and well-being at Hafslo: BesteBakken
FJORDS – Accommodation in Western Norway
Luster – Useful Links
Tourist Information about Luster and the Lustrafjord: Sognefjord.com
Skjolden – Where fjord meets the mountains: Skjolden.com
Activities in Luster: Visit Skjolden
The UNESCO Protected Urnes Stave Church
Ferry across the Lustrafjord: Lustrabaatane
Glacier Guiding on Nigardsbreen Glacier: Jostedalen Breførarlag
Breheimsenteret Glacier Center in Jostedal: Breheimsenteret
Mountain Hotel in the Hurrungane Mountains: Turtagrø Hotel
Sognefjellet National Tourist Route: Norwegian Scenic Routes
Guided Kayak Trip on the Lustrafjord: Fjordseal at Marifjøra
Guided Motor Boat Tours at Lake Styggevatnet: Ice Troll