Norway: The Trolltunga Challenge
January 1, 1970
by Hong-Linh Le
It was time for another challenge! My friend and I were looking for a spontaneous adventure that involved nature, so we booked a cheap flight to Norway and decided to take on the Trolltunga challenge.
Trolltunga is a breathtaking cliff in Norway, situated 1100 meters above sea level. The hike will take about 10-12 hours depending on whether conditions.
After intensive research, we decided to book with a company called “Trolltunga Active” to go on the big hike. We would have tried it on our own if we were travelling in a big group and in the summer; however, since we went in April, where the mountains in Norway are still covered in deep snow, we did not want to take the risk of getting lost.
Roadtrip to Odda
It was 4.30 in the morning when our alarms went off. We were staying at an AirBnb in Bergen and have rented a car to drive to Odda, where we would meet our guides and the group.
It was still dark outside when we embarked on our adventure. Still sleepy, we put in the destination in our Navigation System and drove off. About 1.5 hours later we arrived at a port. It was pitch dark and we were the only ones around and we realised we had forgotten to click “avoid ferries” into the Navigation System and the port was not open yet. We did not know whether to laugh or to cry. What a great start!
We did not let this mishap discourage us and continued on our trip. The drive took us through breathtaking sceneries of mountains and lakes that were covered in snow.
A few Karaoke sessions and panic calls to the guides, as we were running late due to the detour, later, we arrived at the meeting point and had to rush to get ready to hike.
The Big Hike
We were given snowshoes, informed about guidelines and safety and off we went.
The snowshoes were heavy on my feet and in my mind, I had to keep encouraging myself that I can do this. We went to the gym beforehand and trained for this. My fitness level is not bad. It will all be ok!
We went up further and further, dragging the heavy shoes with us, occasionally sinking into the deep snow. Everything around us glistened in white and all we heard were the heavy steps on the snow and the breaths of the hikers. The short breaks along the way were heaven and hell at the same time. I felt a big relief when we paused, at the same time, starting again felt more strenuous and it took a while to get your pace back.
The air was so fresh and the sun shone bright on our faces. It was warm while we hiked, but when we stopped, we realised how freezing cold it got the higher we went. It was -10°C and the sweat froze on our faces, creating a salty layer on our skin. The route had some steep parts and to get more stability, I had to dig my toes into the snow while climbing. On the way, one of the hikers in our group was too exhausted to continue. The guide dug out the entrance to an emergency cabin, which was hidden in deep snow with only the tip of the chimney indicating its existence, and the hiker waited there while we continued up the mountain.
Finally, we reached a small “plateau” with the view over a beautiful, frozen lake. We stopped for a longer break here, taking in the scenery. Even though we packed warm food, it was too exhausting to eat and unfortunately, too exhausting to take a lot of pictures either. It was freezing cold, but it was amazing. So beautiful, words cannot describe what we saw in front of our eyes.
Unfortunately, due to the heavy snow and the slow pace, the guide advised us to start our descent as it will take too long to reach Trolltunga and we would risk not making it back before night fall. A part of me was relieved and another part was disappointed that we made it so far without reaching the end point. However, safety always comes first and we turned around. Going down, I have to admit, was more challenging for me as it was very steep and I kept falling and sliding down. It was a challenge for me as I have this fear of falling since I can remember. My heart was racing with every step and I fell behind quite a bit, but I kept on going till the end.
Back at the hotel, I stood in the shower for what felt like ages, hot water streaming down on me, everything ached, especially my toes were in so much pain that every step hurt and putting on shoes were impossible. With all the pain, the sense of achievement was even bigger, even though I did not make it all the way up, I did what was the most challenging thing I have done in my life so far. Would I try again? Hell yes! But probably without the snow… 😉
Tips and Advice
Before heading to your adventure, it is important to plan and train ahead of time. Looking back at the trip, I realised that we have definitely underestimated the hike. Our pre-hike training might have been enough without the snow, but with it, it was so much more challenging and exhausting.
Therefore, go to the gym, go on the stairmaster, first without then with, a backpack and get ready well ahead of time! We started about a month before our trip, but I would recommend to start a lot sooner.
Do your research about the route and the weather conditions! Even though, we knew there would be snow, we did not expect that much snow in April.
What to Bring
- Backpack – make sure you find a backpack that is comfortable and not too heavy for you as it will make a big difference during the hike
- Layers – you will feel warm while you hike, but the moment you pause, you will notice the drop in temperature. Make sure to bring thin and breathable layers that you can easily take off and put on again. We wore thermo shirts and leggings as we went in April.
- Extra socks and gloves
- reuseable water bottle
- Snacks, such as protein bars, dried fruit/nuts and food – we brought those self-heating meals that you can buy in any active stores, but to be honest, we were too exhausted to eat and stuck to eating plenty of snacks on the way
- Thermo bottle with tea – you will appreciate the warmth on your breaks!
- GoPro or attachable, light camera -I brought my bridge camera, however, I ended up barely taking pictures as I found it too challenging to take in out all the time while I was struggling to keep up already. I wished I had a Go Pro or similar camera that you could just attach to yourself.
Last but not least, take in the experience as much as you can. The effort will be worth it and I have not regretted going on this hike once, no matter how challenging it was! And most importantly, always put safety before pride! It is ok to turn around or make use of one of the emergency cabins to rest. Nothing will be worth you injuring yourself or being so exhausted that you cannot return anymore. Stay safe and try again next time!
Oh, and if you’re driving from Bergen early in the morning, don’t forget to avoid the ferries! lol