Besieged view, Bessvatn and Gjende

Besseggen, Norways top hike

Besieged view, Bessvatn and Gjende
On the way up the Besseggen ridge

Start: Memurubu
End: Gjendesheim
Distance (km): 15 km
Ascent/descent: 1100/1100 m

Time used: 8 hours with a 15 kg backpack.

Difficulty (1-5): 4.

Walking season: June-September. Depends on snow levels. Both public transportation to Gjendesheim and the boats on Gjende lake are seasonal and run approximately between late-June and September. Information via DNT.

Transport to/from the hike: To/from Gjendesheim: By car:  Info here on parking. By bus: From Oslo with Valdresekspressen. Additional daily local buses to Lom/Otta and Fagernes.

Besieged classical view
Besseggen – the classic view. The dark blue Bessvatn on the ridge, the light blue lake Gjende on the left.

Accomodation: Huts: At both trail ends Gjendesheim (DNT hut) and Memurubu hut provide accommodation. Several additional accommodation near Gjendesheim. Camping: Wild camping is permitted everywhere. There are several prime spots on the trail as well as close to both trail ends.

Description: Stony trail, however significantly less stony than other trails in Jotunheimen. Very well-marked. On the Besseggen ridge itself, there is a very short (2 min * 2) section of light scrambling. The trail may be walked either from Gjendesheim (thus walking from Gjendesheim and taking the boat back from Memurubu) or from Memurubu (taking the boat from Gjendesheim to Memurubu and walking back). Most people take the boat from Gjendesheim in the morning and walk back. Othes spend the night at Memurubu. In either case, in high season up to 500 people may leave Memurubu at approximately the same time, crossing the ridge between 10-12 am, causing significant traffic jam on the ridge.

Besseggen ridge from below
Besseggen ridge – on the way up

Online ressources including maps: 10 important tips on hiking in Jotunheimen, UT.no (description and maps), Gjende (info on the boats), Besseggen.net (general info), DNT (general info), Gjendesheim hut, Memurubu hut.

Important points: Up to 55.000 walk the Besseggen ridge every year. The Gjende boat may not be booked however boats leave in the morning from Gjendesheim as long as there are people. In high season the traffic jam on the ridge around midday is considerable and the biggest hazard of the hike.

Highlights: Climbing the ridge.

Low points: To be stuck in a crowd on the ridge.

Besseggen, camping at Bessvatn
Camping at “bandet” next to Bessvatn (the dark blue water) right before the Besseggen ridge

Important tips:

  • Avoid the crowds either by a) a very early (7am) start from Gjendesheim, b) spend the previous night in Memurubu and start around 7 am or c) camp on the trail (which I did). At 10 am I was alone on the ridge. At 11 am the ridge was overcrowded.
  • Prepare for all sorts of weather. I encountered a sudden snowstorm 300 meters above Memurubu in mid-August.
  • While the ridge may look narrow and exposed from below, it really is not. 55.000 passes the ridge every year and noone has ever fallen down from it.
  • For those on multi-day hikes, such as myself, it is possible to ship your backpack with the boat between Memurubu and Gjendesheim thus walking with a day-pack only.
Camping Besseggen
Camping 300 meter above Memurubu as I was surprised by a sudden snowstorm

 The complete photo gallery of this trip is available on flickr

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