Norway | Jotunheimen
I might have a case of Norway fever as it's the fourth year in a row I'm spending my holiday there. The first two times I went to Hardangervidda, this year will be my second time in Jotunheimen. One of the many perks of Norway is the weather is so variable you can easily visit the same place twice, while having a completely different experience. The better I get to know Norway, the more there seems to be for me.
Jotunheimen is probably one of the better known areas in Europe, but let me introduce it as an alpine region in Southern Norway, containing the highest peaks of Scandinavia. It's not a big area, and in combination with the allemansrätten it is perfect for trekking for 5-10 days. The route I follow is more or less the following: Gjendesheim – Surtningsue – Glittertind – Galdhøpiggen – Olavsbu – Torfinnsbu – Gjendesheim
Day 1: Gjendesheim - Bessvatn
I arrive by bus from Oslo around 2:30pm in Gjendesheim in summer conditions. 7 degrees, cloudy and windy. The first part of the route follows Besseggen, probably the most famous walk in Norway. It is also where Peer Gynt was on the run on a raindeer, trying to escape the troll king. It's a good thing I arrive pretty late in the afternoon, so the crowds are already gone. Visibility is much better than a few hours earlier, but the strong wind makes for precarious going over the ridge. I pitch my tent early in the evening high above Gjende at the foot of Besshøe.
Day 2: Surtningssue
I leave my tent pitched for today, and make a round-trip to Surtningssue summit, at 2368m one of the higher summits of Jotunheimen, which should provide the better view on the region. When I see the summit poking through the fog, I wonder if this was such a good idea after all, but the route is fairly easy. Indeed, the view on Memurubreen and others is more than superb. The summit is more of a plateau, and the ridiculously strong wind makes descending really hard wind (eventhough I am fairly aerodynamic). A recommended detour.
Day 3: Bessvatn - Glitterheimen
Today is a fairly easy day without much elevation, following the shore of Russvatnet. Although the summit of Glittertinden, the goal of tomorrow, is hidden in the clouds, the view leaves me speechless. Every year I seem to get a bit more addicted to the vastness of Norway.
I pitch my tent about one kilometer beyond Glitterheimen, and the Akto is tested in the windy conditions. Pitching is no problem whatsoever, and within a few minutes I have a nice cosy shelter. The Akto is of course not cheap, but definately worth it's money if used in these conditions.
Day 4: Glitterheimen - Glittertinden - Spiterstulen
Today I pass over the second summit. Glittertinden reaches 2464m, making it the second highest summit of Norway. In the morning, I stil have hopes the clouds might lift, which won't be the case. Going over the summit it is nearly impossible to make out the difference between the mountain and the sky. Everything is a greyish white, and the wind doesn't provide any help. It's pretty cold at the summit, so I immediately continue the descent to Spiterstulen. When I'm almost in the valley, I meet a family with two 10-year old children on the way to the summit. If they behave ("Let's see how though they are" says the father), they are allowed on Galdhøpiggen tomorrow. The ease with which the locals go into the mountains from childhood is amazing.
Day 5: Spiterstulen - Galdhøpiggen - Spiterstulen
Today I'm going up Gadlhøpiggen, Norways hightest summit at 2469m. The clouds have lifted a bit, but the wind is persistant. After Besseggen, this should probably be one of the most popular hikes in Noway, except today it seems. Because of the weather, I'm back down after 5 hours. And I seem to be getting the hang of descending along the snowfields!
Day 6: Spiterstulen - Leirvassbu - Olavsbu
The rest of the trip, I follow a lower route. And of course, the clouds have lifted after spending the past few days in the clouds. As I can finally take of my wooly hat after five days, I'm not complaining.
Today I have the feeling I can go on forever, curious what view awaits me after the next climb. I pass by Kyrkja, Leirvassbu and Olavsbu, and sleep just beneath Mjølkedalstinden.
Day 7: Olavsbu - Gjendebu
Funny how different the weather is, and how quickly it changed. This starts to feel like a summer holiday! The reindeer seem to be cooling down by sleeping on the snow, not a bad idea.
At the end of the day, I can make out Besshøe again, which was near where I started a week ago.
Day 8: Gjendebu - Torfinnsbu
The last two days I follow a lesser travelled route. And the part between Bygdin and Gjende looks like a great place to pitch a tent and go scrambling. Might be an idea for later!
Dag 9: Torfinnsbu - Gjendesheim
The last stage, back to Gjendesheim, is just gorgeous and completely deserted. The lower I get, the more boggy it becomes, and the final 5k I have to run to keep ahead of the mosquitos.
Jotunheimen is only one of the many national parks in Norway. And even outside these, the scenery and sense of wilderness is just amazing. Yes, I'm quite sure I will be back!