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Living on the Edge – Trolltunga, Norway

Literally translated as “Troll’s Tongue”, Trolltunga has been one of the most spectacular hikes we’ve experienced and is something we highly recommend that should be on everyone’s bucket list.  A physically demanding 22km (~14 miles) round trip, this took the four of us (with varying fitness levels) 11 hours to complete, leaving our legs feeling like jello the next day!  Although we consider ourselves reasonably fit, in many ways we were unprepared for the journey, so we’ve written a post of our experience to help our future fellow hikers.

We flew from London to Bergen and drove ~3 hours to Tyssedal, which is the closest town to the entrance of the hike. Although the distance is only about 140km, the roads between the two cities are windy and the speed limit is restricted to about 70km. We stayed at Tyssedal Hotel for our 3 nights there, which was just a 10 minute drive to the entrance of the trail at Skjeggedal Carpark.  Tyssedal Hotel is situated near a lake in a very scenic spot and although the service was mixed, the rooms were clean and comfortable.

Outside Tyssedal hotel

Skjeggedal Carpark was the entrance to the hike

 

The ‘fun’ started once we finally got to Skjeggedal Carpark!  The trail (one way) can roughly be described as 3 peaks with vast expanses in-between.  We remember the first km being being the most tortuous given the steep incline. The old funicular steps were no longer in use, so the only way up were rocky steps, but there were ropes to help us along the way.  Any elation experienced upon completing this part was quickly gone once we realised that we’d only done 1 km – 21 more to go!

The first Km

The first kilometre

Glimpse of the views in store for us

The terrain varied from muddy swamps, slushy snow, more stone steps, small water pools, wooden bridges across small rivers and mini hills but is well marked with Red T signs.  Along the way, we passed small glacial waterfalls (good opportunity to refill our water bottle), cabins (even an emergency one for use in extreme situations), camp sites, lakes, livestock etc.

Following the Red T signs (on the bottom right)

Refilling water from a small glacial waterfall

Small pools

Walking through slushy snow

Crossing this cool bridge

Cabin to use in an emergency

Halfway there!

One of our favourite stops was lunching over Lake Ringedalsvatnet, which was just a sample of what was in store for us.  We could have stayed here forever – the sheer scale of the mountains and surrounding beauty was absolutely breathtaking.  At this point, we took satisfaction in knowing that we were about 75% of the way there.

Lunching over Lake Ringedalsvatnet

Lake Ringedalsvatnet

The trail did feel incessant, especially the last km where you couldn’t easily spot Trolltunga (yet, people returning cheerfully pointed to what felt like a random cliff saying “Almost there!”).  Right when you thought we were about to keel over, we turned a corner and… Voila!  Trolltunga is every bit as remarkable as every possible photo we’d ever seen of it, making us quickly forget the agony in our legs. We were fortunate that there weren’t many people when we got there, which allowed us to savour every moment.

The trail felt incessant

Almost there!

Made it!

That view was worth every ounce of sweat!

Us 🙂

Forgetting that my legs felt like jello!

Queue to get onto Trolltunga

With friends like these 🙂

A proposal – I think she said yes!

Tips

  1. Driving from Bergen Airport: use a car GPS as Google Maps sometimes includes a ferry in your route. You can avoid the ferry by going over Hardanger Bridge.
  2. What to pack: Read our “What to pack” section below for a full list of things we took
  3. Mobile App: Download the “Flashlight” or “Torch” App on your smartphone in case you don’t have a torch.  This will come in handy as visibility reduces significantly as nightfall approaches.
  4. Weather forecast: Check the weather forecast on the day of the climb. Since it’s a mountain range, it’s difficult for weather office to predict too far in advance.  We found the Norwegian weather service very reliable
  5. Sleep well: Get a good night’s rest for an early start.  You have a long day ahead.
  6. Parking:
    1. Start the hike early. Not only does Skjeggedal car park get very full, you also want to ensure you return before nightfall if you don’t intend to camp.
    2. If Skjeggedal car park is full, there is another car park 7km away in Tyssedal.  Regular shuttle buses operate to Skjeggedal carpark, which is the entrance of the trail.
    3. Keep a taxi number handy, in case you weren’t able to park at Skjeggedal carpark in case you arrive after the shuttle service has stopped service for the day.  We used Odda Taxis.
  7. Toilet Facilities: Use the toilets at Skjeggedal carpark before starting the hike. There are no loos along the way…and not many rocks to crouch behind when nature calls.
  8. Stay safe – There are likely to be many climbers ahead of you paving the way so you shouldn’t get lost. The trail is well marked, so if you find yourself alone at any stretch, ensure you follow the Red T signs, especially as there is no mobile phone reception along the trail.
  9. Water: Only refill your water bottles from running glacial water and not the small, still water pools.
  10. Experience: Remember to enjoy the experience and take lots of pictures!

FAQs

When to do it?

The trail is typically open from about June to September, depending on severity of the preceding winter.  Our suggestion is to check the Tourist office website for any key updates.

How to get there?

The nearest towns that the base (Skjeggedal Carpark ) is located is either Odda or Tyssedal. You can get there using a car, bus or train from Bergen.  It’s a lot more difficult using public transport, so we chose to drive from Bergen airport.

Driving

Odda or Tyssdal is about a 3 hour drive from Bergen Airport. When driving, use a car GPS as Google Maps includes a Ferry in your route.  You can avoid the ferry by going over Hardanger Bridge.  We would recommend driving during the day as its very scenic.

Train & Bus

From our research, you take a train from Bergen to Voss, followed by a bus which will take you approximately 2 hours.  www.bahn.de is a good website to check train timetables and https://www.skyss.no/en/timetable-and-maps/buss/ for buses.  Once you reach Odda, you’ll take a bus through Tyssedal and then up to the mountain settlement of Skjeggedal. This bus is only 48 NOK and is probably the best and easiest way to get there without a car.

Can you actually do it?

Absolutely!  It is a challenging hike, but if you’re a reasonably fit person who exercises a couple of times a week, and comes well prepared, there is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to do it.

Notewe are not medical professionals, so please consult your physician before completing this hike.

How long does it take?

It takes the average person about 8 – 9 hours. Our advice is to start early (before 8AM).  The added advantage in the summer months is that the sun sets around 10.30pm, so you have a lot of daylight but we would still recommend you start and finish early.

Where to stay?

You can either stay in Odda, Tyssedal or Camp along the trail.  We stayed at the Tyssedal Hotel, a 10 min drive from the main Skjeggedal Carpark, which is the entrance to Trolltunga.  Tyssedal and Odda are small towns, so it is advisable to book early to secure reasonably priced accommodation.

How safe is standing near the edge?

The cliff itself is really wide so if you’re careful (and sensible) then there is really no real danger.  The tip of the cliff reclines slightly so you should be able to comfortably sit on the edge.  It goes without saying however that you should still be careful as accidents can always happen, especially if it’s wet and rainy.

Can you do the hike when it’s raining?

We would advise against climbing because the trail will be muddy and slippery, making it difficult to climb.  We were fortunate that it was a glorious day, but even so it was difficult to negotiate the terrain as a lot of trail was covered in slushy snow, loose rocks, slippery stones etc.

What to pack?

  • Boots: sturdy but light, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support. This will go a long way when treading through slushy snow, loose rocks, muddy swamps etc.
  • Socks: a spare pair of good quality socks – your feet will thank you for it.
  • Small Backpack: You want to ensure this isn’t too heavy so that it doesn’t weigh you down.
  • Small Water bottle: There are many glacial waterfalls along the way making it easy to refill.
  • Light meals: a packed lunch, protein bars, light snacks to refuel
  • Jacket: A good quality, hooded tri-climate jacket as the weather can be unpredictable. Northface is always a reliable option.
  • Breathable layers: which you can peel off if the weather gets hot. It can warm up to 20+ degrees (68+ farenheit).
  • Small torch: useful in case you return in the evening. Even though you’re walking in a large open area, visibility reduces drastically as nightfall approaches and it’s imperative that you are always able to spot the Red T signs.
  • Sunglasses: on a sunny day, vision can be strained with the reflection of the sun against the snow.
  • Small first aid kit: Bandaids, plasters and painkillers for minor ailments.
  • Camera: for all those gorgeous views!

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