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.
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 Hotelin 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.
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:
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.
I passedStorebjørn 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.
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.
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..
From Øvre Årdal I caught the bus to Flåm and then further on to Hardangervidda.
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 Gjendesheimon 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.
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..
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.
With 2102 metersKebnekaise 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.
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.
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.
10 important things to know about hiking on Hardangervidda:
West Hardangevidda is very hilly. The well known endless flat plateau is located in the Eastern part around Sandhaug.
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.
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.
Hiking poles are highly recommended as they help crossing rivers (not all have bridges in place) and navigating snowfields.
Pitching a tent is free and allowed anywhere, this is a cornerstone of Norwegian outdoor culture called “allemandsretten“.
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.