Tour to and over the Engabreen glacier tongue, part of the Svartisen glacier.

Travelogue Norway 2021
Svartisen Glacier (Engabreen)

We spend the night in Glomfjord. We booked our tour to the glacier tongue Engabreen through Meløy Adventure. The weather is not ideal (overcast, light drizzle from time to time) but still the best day of the week when we were in the area. As it should turn out, however, this led to the fact that we were able to experience the glacier in a particularly spectacular blue.

The Svartisen glacier itself is the second largest glacier in Norway. Engabreen forms the lowest point of a glacier on the European mainland.

Holandsvika, Meløy, Norway
We start from Holandsvika (Meløy) with a short boat trip. Besides us there are four Norwegian women in the group. None of them are real walkers/athletes and yet they’re really fit. In addition, there is a guide from Meløy Adventure. If there was one more person, there would probably have been two guides accompanying the group. At the end of the boat tour a small bus picks us up and brings us closer to the glacier. This is the first difference when one books a tour: without this bus, one has to walk approximately three kilometres additionally on the way there and back.
ascent to the Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
The ascent is relatively steep. In total (including the tour on the ice) we cover 7.5 kilometres from the place where the bus dropped us off, with 420 metres of altitude gain. The further down you are, the smoother the rocks are, as it has been a long time since the glacier retreated here and algae and plants have had time to colonize the surface. Further up the rock is rougher.
rock below Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
The structures that can be seen in the rock, which has been polished smooth by the glacier, are both beautiful and interesting.
glacier mill below Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
This is a so-called glacier mill, where meltwater has bored a hole in the rock with the help of debris.
ascent to the Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
Without a guide or without your own equipment and glacier experience, you won’t get much further than this point.
ascent to the Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
About half way to the glacier tongue we get equipped with harnesses, ice axes, crampons and helmets. A short distance further on we have to put on our helmets because it gets so steep that there is danger of someone from the group kicking loose stones that could hit those following. By the way, besides good shoes and clothes appropriate for the temperature, we had to bring “thin gloves”. Thin because you should be able to operate the carabiners with which you are secured while wearing gloves. I was not ideally equipped here, because my gloves were soaked in the drizzle and my fingers got very cold.
Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
At this point we put on the climbing harnesses and crampons and enter the actual glacier.
hike on the Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
On the glacier we walk on the rope. Our leader is in the front, I’m in the back. If the guide had set an ice screw for belaying (this is a hook that can be anchored quite easily in the ice), then everyone in the middle of the group would have had to change the carabiners at this point, similar to a via ferrata, and I, as the last one, would have had to turn the screw out of the ice and collect it.

In the end, the time on the ice itself is not very long. After a relatively short hike, our guide decides that we should have a snack and then turn back. I’m a bit disappointed, would have liked more time on the glacier, maybe the option to go into a cave or abseil down a crevasse. On the other hand, the weather was really not ideal and at least my hands were pretty cold. In the end, it was okay and probably better that way.

crevasse in the Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
Here a view into a crevasse. These form especially where the ice flows over irregularities in the rock and then breaks open on the surface like a loaf of bread that you bend till one side breaks open. This becomes especially treacherous when the opening is covered by a layer of snow.
Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
Finally, a photo shoot. It is not normal that we have so many pictures from the glacier tour. Actually, you should hold the ice axe in one hand and it’s hard to take pictures with gloves on. But Malina would never return from such a beautiful place without taking lots of photos, even if her hands almost froze off and her phone could very easily have got lost in the process.
Engabreen glacier tongue, Svartisen, Norway
last view back into the jagged ice
Norwegian snack with fish paste on bread
Survived! Now a typical Norwegian snack with spread (here fish paste) from the tube. Usually this goes between two slices of crispbread.

The way back is the same. We get picked up by the bus and are taken to the ship. In total, the tour lasted about seven hours.

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