Hiking in Jotunheimen 1

Jotunheimen, probably Norway’s most famous national park, like its (almost) namesake is rugged and mountainous, although the giant-population seems to be quite sparse. In the south-west of the park the mountain-range Hurrungane contains some of Norway’s most recognised alpine peaks. This is where I went with Swedish Expeditions (that I travelled with a few years ago to Damavand) for a week of “expedition course” . In reality it was more a very nice hiking with some climbing and a bit of good advice dispensed along the way.

The first day we walked through Utladalen, passed Vetti Gard and up through the temperate rainforest to reach the mouth of Midtmaradalen where we set camp. The forest earned its description that day – it rained more or less continuously throughout the day and the night, and had done so for many weeks before. The forest floor had turned into a swamp. Had it continued it would have been a miserable trip. But the Æsir were good to us, and in the morning it had cleared up as we made our way through Midtmaradalen. After about two kilometers we turned steeply up the ridge to make our way across the Maradalsryggen, where we made our camp at the shore of a lake with a view over Maradalsbreen and Hurrungane.

The next day we crossed the glacier and made our way up the steep, snow-filled couloir that leads to the col between Gjertvasstind and Styggedalstindane where we made our camp on the ice. It was the first time I camped on ice… Lets just say that if your mattress is not insulating enough, you’ll notice. Additionally, the 20 year old sleeping back might have been very warm once… not anymore. That it had a hole also made our tent look a little like the aftermath of a fight in a chicken coop.  Sleeping in most of my spare clothes made for chilly, but survivable nights, and a relatively paltry pillow.

From our camp on the col at 2200 m the first day we made a short trip up to Gjervasstind. This involved setting up fixed ropes, ascending with jumars and finally repelling off again. More for the practice of setting it up than for a real need of that level of protection. The second day we made our way along the ridge across Styggedalstindane towards Sentraltind and back. These days we had clear, blue sky and needed hefty doses of SPF50.

After three cold nights on the col we descended through the icefall of the Gjertvassbreen glacier. As we came lower down the cold and windy 0 degrees from the morning gradually turned into a summery, pleasant 15°C down in the valley. After lunch we decided to brave the cold again and went out onto Styggedalsbreen to find a proper crevasse for some ice-climbing. Lots of fun. In the evening we camped with a lovely view at a lake at the mouth of Styggedalen. The last day we took an easy walk down the valley to Turtagrø mountain hotel where we spent the evening with good food and beer.

All in all, a very nice trip. Thanks to Jonn and Magnus from Swedish Expeditions for arranging it, and to the other participants for a nice atmosphere.

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