Tag Archives: norway top hikes

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.

West Jotunheimen Hike

Itinerary, West Jotunheimen multiday hike, full camping gear, 6 days, August 2016:

Leirvassbu-Kyrkja summit-Bridge over Utla-Fannaråken-Styggedalsbreen-Skogadalsbøen-Utladalen-Avdalen-Øvre Årdal.

  • While the Jotunheimen Circuit Hike was characterized by bad weather, the weather was glorious for this hike.

    Jotunheimen
    On the way to Fannaråken
  • I simply took the public bus to Leirvassbu Lodge, in the center of Jotunheimen.
  • I started by climbing Kyrkja on a glorious day with 25+ degrees.
  • It was late afternoon before I left walking west towards Skogadalsbøen. To my surprise I passed a huge dam a couple of hours into this hike, as I did not think dams were allowed. Turns out they are not anymore.

    Fannaråken
    Fannaråken
  • I passed Storebjørn with the distinctive flat summit and vertical walls.
  • Fannaråken, the highest-lying mountain hut in Norway at 2068 meters only sees clear weather less than 50 days a year. This day was one of them.
  • Nepalese workers hired by the National Park Authorities had helped carve the stone steps leading down from Fannaråken  Nepalese style towards Turtagrø.
  • At Fannaråken I spotted a glacier calving directly into a small lake at the other side of the valley, in the Hurrangane plateau. It is called Styggedalsbreen and I walked there to camp.

    Styggedalsbreen
    Styggedalsbreen
  • At Fannaråken a guy took off paragliding and intended to glide over the top of Storen (Stora Skagstølstind, the 3rd highest montain in Norway).
  • Skogadalsbøen is apparently the favorite mountain lodge of  Queen Sonia of Norway. Understandable as the location is great and the hut charming.

    Camping at Skogadalsbøen
    Camping at Skogadalsbøen
  • Descending Utladalen is a wonderful way to exit Jotunheimen, though the descent is long.
  • Vettisfossen, the highest waterfall in Northern Europe with 273 meter is passed on the way down.
  • Vetti Gard is an old farm, now open as a Café only. When I arrived at 5 pm looking forward to waffles, it had just closed for the day.
  • Ascending 350 meters from the Valley leads to the wonderful old farm Avdalen Gard, now a tourist lodge. It is now run by Romanians and when I was there, only one girl worked there, managing everything connected with up to 10 (or more) sleeping guests, dinner, breakfast and café..

    Avdalen Gaard, Utladalen
    Avdalen Gard, Utladalen with my red tent
  • From Øvre Årdal I caught the bus to Flåm and then further on to Hardangervidda.

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

A photogallery of the my hikes in Jotunheimen in  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.

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.

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.