Category Archives: hikes

The Jotunheimen Circuit Hike

Jotunheimen Circuit Itinerary, 8 days with full camping gear, August 2016: 

Gjendesheim-Glitterheim-Spiterstulen-Leirvassbu-Olafsbu-Gjendbu-Memurubu (via Bukkelægret)-Gjendesheim (via Besseggen)

  • Generally, this trip was characterized by bad weather except for the two last days (Bukkelægret and Besseggen). In fact, after having completed the Circuit I took the bus back to several of the places I failed to visit when I passed them  the first time: Spiterstulen-Galdhøpiggen and Leirvassbu-Kyrkja.
  • I arrived at Gjendesheim on the public bus. The weather was clear, hundreds of people were queuing to catch the boat to Memurubu for the Besseggen hike. I left in the direction of Glitterheim in the opposite direction.
  • The trails are incredibly stony, hiking poles are a great help. Nevertheless it is very slow going.
  • Routefinding is not an issue however, as the trails are clearly marked with the red T. Furthermore the general direction is quite clear.
  • Glitterheim is a very atmospheric hut, with a great dining room. The bad weather conditions forced me to give up climbing the Glittertinden Summit.

    Bukkelægret, Jotunheimen
    Bukkelægret, Jotunheimen
  • A combination of snow and rain and poor visibility led me to give up both climbing Galdhøpiggen and camping outside and instead to sleep inside the lodges in both Leirvassbu, Olavsbu and Gjende.
  • Even with mist and rain, the walk up to Leirvassbu was beautiful though Kyrkja was hardly visible.
  • A massive snowfield had to be climed in snow and rain on the way up to Olavsbu
  • Olavsbu is perhaps my favourite hut in Jotunheimen: A self-service hut with food storage and kitchen equipment.
  • At Olavsbu hut two young men searched desperately for their father who had not turned up. A search team was almost called, but was canceled after a German woman said she had passed a red tent pitched just 20 minutes from the hut. Apparently he had camped there due to the bad weather and forgotten to tell his sons about it..

    Between Gjende and Memurubu
    Between Gjende and Memurubu
  • It was one of the hut wardens at Olavsbu that recommended me the wonderful old farm-turned-lodge Avdalen in Utladalen
  • The ascent over Bukkelægret is aided by chains, that are hardly necessary in dry conditions. In wet conditions I would not attempt the ascent. The highlight of this day was, however, the descent on a ridge down to Memurubu Lodge.
  • Aiming to beat the crowds at Besseggen, I started to walk from Memurubu in the evening aiming to camp on the trail. 300 meters ascent from Memurubu I was surprised by a sudden snowstorm and camped on the spot.
  • Besseggen is all that it is said to be, it is also incredibly crowded with unexperienced hikers (as well as experienced) in fine weather

    Snowstorm Besseggen Jotunheimen
    Surprised by a snowstorm in mid-August at the Besseggen trail, 300 meters above Memurubu

General information:10 important tips hiking in Jotunheimen, DNT, online maps at ut.no, Visit Jotunheimen,

Kebnekaise summit the hard way

With 2102 meters Kebnekaise is the highest mountain in Sweden and a highlight of any hiking trip in Laponia.
There are two optionsclimbing Kebnekaise, both possible as day hikes from Kebnekaise Lodge:

Östre ledan (The Eastern Trail): The shorter of the two options crossing the Björling glacier and climbing a (moderate) via ferrata. Daily guided tours (incl. equipment) from Kebnekaise lodge.

Västre leden (The Western Trail): A straightforward, though long and exhausting hiking route of 22 km and more than 2000 meters ascent with no need for technical equipment. I have summited Kebnekaise twice, in 2014 and 2016, on both occasions via Västra leden.

On the way to Kebnekaise
On the way to Kebnekaise

The track feel as long as it is. It is however very beautiful, almost all of it above the tree level passing a wonderful cirque with hanging glaciers as well as the curiously shaped Tuolpagorni on the way. Around halfway up, it is quite a psychological challenge having to climb and descend Vierramvare  on the way, adding 300 meters to the ascend, making the total ascent 2100 meter.  While the trail is straight-forward and not technical, the scree slopes, however are quite steep. The last 50 meters ascent is on snow, though normally crampons are not needed. The summit is quite small with room for no more than 5-6 people and quite exposed,  and since it is on top of a glacier the actual height may vary a bit from year to year. In 2016 it looks like at hut will be build immediately below the summit, a place where helicopters taking sightseeing tourists land as well.

View from Kebnekaise summit
View from Kebnekaise summit

Difficulty: 4.

Information and maps: Summitpost, 

Click here for a photogallery of the Kebnekaise Summit Climb (July 2014) 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.
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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.

Hiking in Jotunheimen – 10 important things to know

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.
Accordingly there is no official route through Jotunheimen, though I wonder if this would not increase both the recognition and possibly visitors: The Kungsleden Trail in Laponia in Northern Sweden is repeatedly hailed as one of the top hikes in the world, while the Jotunheimen hiking trails are rarely mentioned despite Jotunheimen being at least, if not more spectacular than Laponia.

Jotunheimen
Typical scenery close to Leirvassbu

10 important things to know about hiking in Jotunheimen

  1. Jotunheimen is a National Park, also known as The Roof of Norway, located between 900-1400 meters above sea leve..
  2. In Norway, 2000 m defines a high mountain and climbing “a 2000 meter peak” is often a goal. Around 200 peaks in Norway exceed 2000 meter, most of these are located in Jothunheimen.
  3. The hiking trails in Jotunheimen are incredibly stony.
  4. Apart from walking on the stones, which often are slippery, the main challenge are the snowfields, which often linger until August, and some of them never melts.
  5. Hiking poles are highly recommended as they help crossing rivers (not all have bridges in place) and navigating snowfields. Most bridges are removed in September and re-installed in late-June.
  6. Weather may change without warning at any time and snow is not uncommon, even in summer.
  7. The snow seem to melt quite late, especially around the Central Jotunheimen area Leirvassbu (check the webcam in place), where snow may lie until late July.
  8. Pitching a tent is free and allowed anywhere, this is a cornerstone of Norwegian outdoor culture called  “allemandsretten”.
  9. Almost all huts in Jotunheimen are “full-service” lodges offering full restaurant services as well as snacks to be bought. Tenters may pay a fee to access the facilities. In Central Jotunheimen, Olafsbu is the only non-serviced hut, with food for sale and cooking equipment.
  10. Now, busses go directly from Oslo to Gjendesheim and Leirvassbu.Gjendesheim is an incredibly touristy place, mainly due to the proximity of the Besseggen hike.

    Jotunheimen
    Camping near Fannaråken in West Jotunheimen

I spend 3+ weeks in Jotunheimen August 2016, walked a Jotunheimen Circuit and a West Jotunheimen hike as well as climbed Galdhøpiggen and Kyrkja.

Personally I prefer the central Jotunheimen are around Leirvassbu and Olavsbu as well as Utladalen (valley) with Avdalen Gard, an old mountain farm and now a tourist lodge.

Suggested Jotunheimen Itineraries:

The Circuit: Gjendesheim-Glitterheim-Spiterstulen-Leirvassbu-Olafsbu-Gjendbu-Memurubu (via Bukkelægret)-Gjendesheim (via Besseggen).

West Jotunheimen hike: Leirvassbu-Kyrkja summit-Bridge over Utla-Fannaråken-Styggedalsbreen-Skogadalsbøen-Utladalen-Avdalen-Øvre Årdal.

Summit hikes: Galdhøpiggen and Kyrkja.

Information at: DNT, ut.no, Jotunheimen National Park Site, Visit Jotunheimen

Click for photogallery of the above hikes including summits in Jotunheimen, August 2016 on flickr.

Queen Charlotte Track

The Queen Charlotte Track spans 70 km from the historical Ship Cove (Captain Cook´s New Zealand base) to Anikawa on the Queen Charlotte Sound in the Marlborough Sounds area.

The Queen Charlotte Track is not classified as a Great Walk, thus campsites are somewhat easier to  come by as advance reservation is not required. In addition, numerous tour companies provide luggage transfer by boat along the route and comfortable accommodation in hotels is available.  Furthermore, the track itself is of only moderate difficulty: An undulating and furthermore well-maintained trail with no major ascents.  As a consequence, the Queen Charlotte Track attracts a somewhat wider audience than many of the other walks and is indeed one of the most popular tracks in New Zealand.

Queen Charlotte Track
Queen Charlotte Track

The track moves through subtropical forests with views of the Queen Charlotte Sound and strictly speaking, compared to the diversity of many other New Zealand walks I did end up finding Queen Charlotte Track a bit monotonous. From a technical point of view several of the Great Walks are just as easy to walk (such as the nearby Abel Tasman Coastal Track and Heaphy Track) and both offer more scenic variation. However none of these offer the touristic services that the Queen Charlotte Track does.

Queen Charlotte Track
Queen Charlotte Track

Boats to Ship Cove/Anakiwa and other points on the track leave several times during the day from Picton Harbor, where outfitters offer all the needed services (including track pass) to walk the Queen Charlotte Track. Campsite tickets available at the nearby DOC office.

My itinerary:
Day 1: Picton-Ship Cove-Camp Bay Campsite.
Day 2: Camp Bay Campsite-Cowshed Bay Campsite
Day 3: Cowshed Bay Campsite-Anakiwa-Picton

Difficulty: 2.

Information, bookings and maps: DOC (Department of Conservation). Queen Charlotte Track official site

Click for photogallery of Queen Charlotte Track (February 2016)