The peak landscape of Hjorundfjord
Mighty ancient icebergs ground down and sanded smooth the crystalline mountainsides. From the high peaks the inland ice carved its way forward and out into the fjord, pushing gravel, sand and rock before it. Hjørundfjord is one of the dramatic results of this process, a deep cleft almost 2 000 meters from top to bottom. Some of the exposed ridges or peaks (nunataqs) stuck out above the ice surface. These can be seen today as weather-beaten, jagged mountain peaks.
Hjørundfjord has a population of approx. 1 130, divided among the villages of Strendene (100), Sæbø and Bondalen (660), Norangsfjorden (170), Bjørke and Viddal (200).
Hjørundfjorden is 33 kilometres in length, 2.5 kilometres wide at the outermost part and become narrower towards the innermost part of the fjord at Bjørke. The fjord is 441 m deep just south of Stavset and 440 deep just outside of Molaupen. There are more than 70 small lakes.
The landscape has inspired world-famous authors, musicians and artists. It is easily accessible for everyone. There are many criss-crossing shorter walks along well-marked trails in flat valleys; however there are also opportunities for the more adventurous, with more demanding, spectacular peak climbs.
Hjørundfjorden is an active, living fjord. You can see a sand boat sailing on the fjord or maybe fishermen using lines or hauling nets. In the meadows the tractors are in action, you can see the livestock grazing and along the roads you may come across goats, cows and sheep.
The scenery is beautiful; however those who have lived here for generations view the gigantic peaks with mixed feelings. They can proudly show off the landscape on a sunny summer’s day, but they know how unforgiving Mother Nature can be. The necessity of having to carry out daily tasks on the mountainsides combined with the danger of avalanches has many times led to sadness, loss and tragedy. Despite this the local people are indomitable optimists, their wisdom and knowledge of local conditions has taught them how to tame nature.
Of the five largest known avalanches in Norway that have involved fatalities, three of these have occurred in Hjørundfjorden:
- 28 persons were killed in the avalanche at Skylstad on the 16th February 1679 and
- 27 persons lost their lives in the Valset avalanche.
- Another 27 were killed when a landslide from the mountain of Otóla caused three boats carrying a wedding party to capsize on the 1st January 1770.
In more recent times there have been two tragedies:
- On the 23rd November 1971 farmers from Ytre-Standal and Stavset were making a final attempt to herd some goats that had gone up onto the fell, before the winter weather became too hard. Nine men were caught by the avalanche from the Molaup snowdrift. Mountain rescue dogs rescued two of them alive. However, for seven of the men, in their prime of life, no hope remained. Many families lost both father and son.
- On the 19th February 1968 an avalanche, known as ”Korsen” occurred on Lissjedalshornet (1 310 m above sea level). The avalanche was almost 400 m wide when it reached Rise. 17 buildings were crushed. There were 20 persons at Risetuna that day, 11 of them were buried under the mass of snow. An older married couple and a small boy of 4 were killed.