Tag Archives: outdoor scandinavia

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.

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.
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.