Category Archives: hardangervidda

Crossing the Hardangervidda from Finse to Haukeliseter

Crossing the Hardangervidda from North to South, 10 days, full camping gear, August 2016:

Finse-Rembesdalseter-Fossli Hotel (Liseth)-Camping after Hedlo-Torehytten-Tyssevassbu-Trolltunga-Tyssevassbu-Litlos-Hellevassbu-Haukeliseter

  • The Norwegian “allemandsretten” means that wild camping is allowed anywhere.
  • Most of the huts on Hardangervidda are self-service huts, meaning there is a food supply storage, thus there is no need to bring food for more than 1-2 days.
  • Starting from Finse I walked around the glacier Hardangerjøkulen on the until Rembesdalseter.
  • At Rembedalsseter the trail has been re-routed as the burst of a sub-glacial water lake led to a new river pattern flooding the previous trail and no new bridge is in place
  • The re-routing is tough: After passing  a dam an incredibly muddy and steep ascent goes on for several km.

    Hardangervidda
                                                 Hardangervidda
  • In addition I was hit by a massive rainfall and thunderstorm lasting 8 hours on this stage from Rembesdalseter to Liseth: The trail had become a river and my boots ended up completely soaked. I capitulated and turned up completely soaked at Fossli Hotel in Liseth after 9+ hours in this weather.
  • The location of Fossli Hotel is great, right next to Vøringsfossen, the most famous waterfall in Norway. The atmosphere at Fossli hotel atmosphere is of last century and the staff are  incredibly friendly with the receptionist offering me a ride in the morning (I refused though). On the other hand it does not look like the hotel rooms have been renovated since the 1950s
  • Getting back on Hardangervidda from Liseth I had to jump over a highway fence, which I missed at first for obvious reasons.

    Hardangervidda
                     Hardangervidda: Hårteigen and Torehytten
  • When a second thunderstom arrived two days later I stayed 24 hours inside my tent at a small inlet after Hedlo. During this thunderstorm more than 300  reindeer were killed when lightning struck about 15 km away
  • Briefly met the hut warden at Hadlaskard, a lovely 80+ year woman assisted by her daughter.
  • At  Torehytten two foreigners clearly cheated and left without paying. The self-service hut system is an honor-based system where visitors write their name and address in the log and the DNT then later sends the bills. I was told that this kind of cheating unfortunately is on the increase.
  • Walking to Tyssevassbu I encountered the most difficult snow bridge I had ever seen. Had to give up passing it but luckily scrambled over a nearby cliff:

    Unpassable snowbridge, Hardangervidda
    Impassable snowbridge, Hardangervidda
  • The Trolltunga hike is described in another post however even in late August there is still a lot of snow around Tyssevassbu where 11 major snowfields had to be crossed, the longest 500 meter.
  • Towards the end, on two occaions, I met a woman crossing Norway from North to South on foot and writing about it, one in Norwegian, the other in English. They had both started near the North Cape almost four months previously.
  • Looking forward to celebratory beer at Haukeliseter Lodge, however the lodge had closed down due to an epidemic of food poisoning.
  • It was a cold hike with temperatures just above zero many days in a row.

    Hardangervidda
                                                       Hardangervidda

General information: 10 important tips hiking on HardangerviddaDNT, ut.no,

Click for a photogallery of the my hikes on Hardangervidda in 2014 and 2016 on flickr.

Hiking on Hardangervidda – 10 important things to know

Hardangervidda is the largest mountain plateau in Northern Europe, located at approximately 1100 meters.

In Norway, fixed multi-days hiking itineraries are rare: Rather the tradition is to look at a map and design your own route. However, as the marked trails through any of the National Parks are limited, people do tend to stick to the same routes.

Suggestions for long-distance hikes and commonly walked routes on Hardangervidda could be:

Long-distance (7+ days) hikes crossing the plateau  direction West-East such as Kinsarvik-Rjukan (or reverse) or direction North-South such as Finse-Haukeliseter (or reverse).

Popular shorter hikes could be the four-day Kinsarvik-Husedalen-Stavali-Torehytten-Tyssevassbu-Trolltunga-Skjeggedal-Odda), the 3-4 day Hardangerjøkulen Circuit (Finse-Rembesdalseter-Kjeldebu-Finse) or several options around the Eastern Hardangervidda including Sandhaug.
30184514373_1744e30d63_k
10 important things to know about hiking on Hardangervidda:

  1. West Hardangevidda is very hilly. The well known endless flat plateau is located  in the Eastern part around Sandhaug.
  2. Weather may change without warning at any time and snow is not uncommon, even in summer.Temperatures may alsow drop below zero without warning: Thus Hardangervidda is a destination where four-season camping equipment should be packed.
  3. Trolltunga is located at the edge of Hardangervidda.
  4. The snow seem to melt quite late, especially in the Western Part, where snow may lie until late July. Some years the snow never really melts.
  5. Hiking poles are highly recommended as they help crossing rivers (not all have bridges in place) and navigating snowfields.
  6. Pitching a tent is free and allowed anywhere, this is a cornerstone of Norwegian outdoor culture called  “allemandsretten“.
  7. Huts vary between full-service (providing cooked meals, drinks etc) and self-service (providing food items and kitchen). At self-service huts a warden in high-season to ensure regulations are followed.
  8. Self-service huts all have food storages. If they are locked,  a DNT key may be used.
  9. Most bridges are removed in September and re-installed in late-June.
  10. Access with public transport most easily to  Finse (on the Oslo-Bergen railway), Haukeliseter (bus to both Bergen and Oslo) or Odda (bus/train from Bergen).

    Hardangervidda
                                              Hardangervidda

Information at: DNT, ut.no,
Click for a photogallery of the my hikes on Hardangervidda in 2014 and 2016 on flickr.

Trolltunga – a tough day out

Trolltunga is a spectacular stone protruding from vertical cliffs directly over a 700 meter drop to Ringedalsvatnet.

In 2009 Trolltunga was virtually unknown. In 2016 more than 100.000 visitors are expected making this one of the most popular hikes of Norway along Besseggen and Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen).
It is however also a tough walk, much tougher  than most of those attempting it thinks. Hikers with jeans and flip-floppers are not uncommon on the trail,  a recipe for disaster since it is a tough area of Hardangervidda, requiring full four-season equipment: The landshape is barren, the weather is rough and unpredictable with frequent snowfall even in summer. Even in mid-August snow fields are still present. This summer, mountain rescue was called  3-4 times a week, placing the voluntary mountain rescue service sunder major strain.

Trolltunga
                                  The area around Trolltunga

The area around Trolltunga is overcrowded, and around midday there may be queues of several hundred hikers around the base including the short access ladder.  In 2015 a woman fell to her death from the base.

The day I was at Trolltunga, the weather was reasonably rough, temperatures approaching zero and strong winds. I saw many hikers in jeans or shorts and flip-floppers. Unsurprisingly I learned later that mountain rescue had been activated twice that day. Several solutions have been discussed including restricting the access to the trail. However free access to the National Parks is a cornerstone for many Norwegians.

But why not benefit from this success and build a hut near Trolltunga? Or a shelter? Both solutions would prevent the majority of rescue operations. Or what about a coffeeshop such as the one on top of Galdhøpiggen?

Trolltunga
                                                  Trolltunga

Curiously there is a sign right at Trolltunga pointing to the hut Reinaskorbu, which also appears in some map and I met several people planning to overnight there on their way up on Hardangervidda from Skjeggedal.  However the Reinaskorbu hut is closed.

99% visit Trolltunga on a one day hike from Skjeggedal and back.
I came from the opposite direction, from inside the Hardangervidda, doing a 3h return hike from the Tyssevassbu hut before continuing down the Hardangervidda to Litlos. Less than 0,1% come from this direction and the trail is rocky with several snowbridges to cross, 2,5 hours one way.
Strangely, the last 500m of the route is completely unmarked. Perhaps there are concerns that the hundreds of dayhikers may take the wrong turn going back from Trolltunga, heading towards Tyssevassbu and Hardangervidda instead of down to Odda.

Difficulty: 3.

Information and maps: Track from Tyssevassbu to Trolltunga, track from Skjeggedal to Trolltunga, Visit Trolltunga

Click for Trolltunga photogallery (2016) on flickr.