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Mountains are an integral part of what makes Norway, Norway. The Land of the Vikings is home to some of the highest mountain peaks in Europe with nearly 300 of them rising above 2,000 metres. Below are some key facts to prepare you for your mountaineering adventures.
It may not be that obvious to non-Scandinavians but in Norway, the “every man’s right of access” (allemannsretten) is in full effect when it comes to the outdoors. That means you are allowed to roam and explore every area, climb every mountain, hike, trek, forage, hunt, and camp wherever you are. However, you are expected to be thoughtful, look after nature and clean up after yourself.
Mountainous areas are awe-inducing but they can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing (and when you’re doing it). The Mountain Safety Code addresses things such as proper use of a map and compass, arranging meeting points that can be found even if you’re out of cell range, or paying attention to weather changes and avalanche warnings.
Even if you don’t have your own mountain cabin (like half the Norwegian population does), you can still be sure to find a cosy place to spend the night. There are many cabins available to rent via services such as Airbnb but you should first make sure there isn’t a DNT cabin available nearby. DNT cabins belong to the Norwegian Trekking Association and are free to use if you become a member.
Norwegian mountains are gorgeous all year long, but in the winter they transform into a skiing paradise. For six months of the year, you can engage in alpine skiing in one of Norway’s numerous ski resorts in mountainous areas.
Norway’s tallest mountain, Galdhøpiggen, towers at 2,469 metres above sea level. Its second highest peak, Glittertind, follows closely at 2,464 metres above sea level. You’ll have the chance to admire both of them in Jotunheimen National Park, which is also known as the ‘home of the Giants’. Now you know why.
Mountaineering in Norway comes with many perks, as the country’s uniquely shaped mountainous areas very often include bizarre rock formations that end up in dramatic cliffs. One of those formations is Preikestolen, also known as the Pulpit Rock, rising at 604 metres above Lysefjord in Ryfylke, Rogaland county. Another one, Trolltunga, is shaped like a troll’s tongue (according to Norwegians folk tales) and has become one of the most Instagrammable places in the country.
The Sunnmøre mountain peaks in Møre og Romsdal county are called Sunnmøre Alps. The peaks, which rise straight from the local fjord called Hjørundfjord, are all very impressive at a height of up to 1,700 metres, but hiking enthusiasts particularly love the Slogen summit for its pyramid-like shape. Bear in mind that it’s a nine-hour hike, but it will be worth it.
Another impressive mountain peak in Norway is Gaustatoppen, in Telemark county, at 1,883 metres. It is considered quite a feat to climb it, as you will be able to see one-sixth of Norway (even east, towards Sweden) once you reach the top. It is an accomplishment that only 30,000 people or so manage to experience every year. To commemorate the fact that you indeed made it up there, you can pick a rock and have it stamped at the Tourist Association’s cabin. That will definitely earn you some bragging rights.