Trolltunga


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Norway’s iconic rock formation Trolltunga juts out horizontally 2,300ft (700m) above the lake Ringedalsvatnet, providing incredible photo opportunities of visitors perched way out on the edge. The hike there is one of the country’s most popular, with 80,000 annual participants, but also is among the most challenging.

Rated extra-demanding by the Norwegian Trekking Association, the round-trip journey is estimated to take 8-12 hours over a total distance of 17 miles (27km) with an elevation gain of 2,600ft (800m). In our opinion, the difficulty of the hike is somewhat exaggerated, likely to encourage people to be properly prepared due Trolltunga’s extraordinary popularity. Around 40 people are rescued annually from the trail, not because of the danger of the rock, but from getting lost in the fog, injuring themselves, or not being prepared for the difficulty of the hike.

On our previous trip to Norway in 2018 we’d passed by the trailhead to Trolltunga during our Hardangfjord road trip, but didn’t have time to make the hike. This time reaching Trolltunga was a real goal for us and one of the major reason we’d stopped in Odda. In addition to reaching the iconic rock formation, we also were keen to try a relatively new way in: the Trolltunga Via Ferrata. We really enjoyed our first Via Ferrata at Loen on our previous trip to Norway and have been looking forward to trying some more on this trip.

Instead of hiking all the way to Trolltunga, we rented bicycles and rode much of the way along the lake Ringedalsvatnet to the base of the Via Ferrata course. We then climbed straight up the ridge with sweeping views to the lake Ringedalsvatnet, and walked a short distance to reach spectacular Trolltunga. We returned following the standard trail, completing the trip in about eight hours.

We had a fabulous time and really enjoyed the adventure. Taking the Via Ferrata not only was an exciting undertaking, but it also gave us a loop trip, something we much prefer whenever we can arrange it. We hate to cover ground (or water) twice if avoidable.

Below are highlights from September 1st, 2020. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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Trolltunga Active
At Trolltunga Active in Skjeggedal to pay the maintenance fee for yesterday’s climb up the Tyssedal Via Ferrata and today’s ascent of the Trolltunga Via Ferrata.
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Trolltunga Map
A map showing the trail to Trolltunga. The traditional route starts at Skjeggedal at parking lot 2 (P2 at left on map) and ascends 2,600ft (800m) over 8.5 miles (14km) one-way. More recently, two new options are available. A new parking lot has opened at P3, reducing the ascent by 1,575ft (480m) to 1,050ft (320m) and the total one-way distance by 2.5 miles (4km), for an estimated round-trip 7-10 hours.

We’re taking the third way, a Via Ferrata course (not shown on map) that starts about 3.7 miles (6km) along lake Ringedalsvatnetn from Skjeggedal. We’ll rent mountain bikes from Trolltunga Active and ride to the below the Via Ferrata, hike 850ft (260m) up to the bottom of the Via Ferrata course, then climb 820ft (250m) up the ridge near the river Endaani at right, then hike 2 miles (3km) to Trolltunga. To return, we’ll follow the main trail 8.5 miles (14km) back to P2 at Skjeggedal.

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Guided Tour
A large group will be ascending the Via Ferrata about an hour after us. We expect to be well ahead of them.
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Mountain Bikes
The Trolltunga Via Ferrata course is about 3.7 miles (6km) along the shores of the lake Ringedalsvatnetn, so we’ve rented mountain bikes from Trolltunga Active that we can leave at the start of the course.
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Morning Calm
A spectacularly clear and calm morning at Ringedalsvatnetn lake as we cycle to the Via Ferrata course.
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Bridge
Enjoying the view to Ringedalsvatnetn lake at the drop-off point for our mountain bikes.
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Trailhead
From lakeside we hiked 850ft (260m) up to reach the Via Ferrata course, then donned our climbing gear.
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Cables
The Trolltunga Via Ferrata course has double cables throughout the route for extra safety. Here you can see the two lanyards clipped onto the cables, allowing us to always be connected to the cables.
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Wall
James traversing a rock face at altitude 2760 ft (841 m), with a great view to beautiful Ringedalsvatnetn lake.
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Ladder
Climbing up from 2850 ft (870 m) to 3000 ft (915 m).
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Stepping Across
Jennifer stepping across the rungs along the wall James just crossed.
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3050 ft
Traversing the next wall at 3050 ft (930m). The views up here are just amazing.
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Group Arrival
The guided tour just arrived at the bottom of the Via Ferrata course. They’re 800ft (250m) below us, but we can hear them talking and singing clearly.
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Another Ladder
Reaching the top of another ladder before stepping across the cliff face.
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Looking Down
Jennifer climbing the ladder James just ascended.
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Nearly There
At 3360 ft (1024 m), we’re almost at the top of the Via Ferrata course.
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Lake at 3,400 ft
Another great view to Ringedalsvatnetn lake at 3,400 ft (1036m), with a little more light than earlier.
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Top of Via Ferrata
Cresting the top of the Via Ferrata course at 3639 ft (1109 m). We really enjoyed the climb, particularly the incredible views.
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Arctic Dome
Trolltunga Active offers sunrise and sunset trips to Trolltunga, where hikers overnight in these sturdy Arctic Dome tents filled with warm furs.
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Highway
Shortly past the tents, we joined the main trail to Trolltunga. The hike is incredibly popular despite its difficult, drawing some 80,000 per year, among the highest in Norway. At September 1st, we’re off the peak season, but the trail still is quite busy. We passed dozens of hikers coming and going.
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Footbridge
Crossing a small footbridge across plateau lakes.
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Hikers
It was easy to tell we’d reached Trolltunga by the crowds of people there.
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Trolltunga
James standing on the tip of Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue). The striking rock formation is what brings so many people out on this challenging hike.
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Waiting
Jennifer waiting for her turn for a picture on Trolltunga. In the busy season people wait in line over two hours for a photo opportunity, but we only had a couple of people in front of us being later in the season.
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Trolltunga Alone
A rare picture of Trolltunga with nobody on the end.
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Lunch
Enjoying lunch on a cliff above Trolltunga with another great view to the lake Ringedalsvatnetn. Trolltunga is out of the picture below us to the right.
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Trail
Walking the 8.5 miles (14km) back along the main trail to Skjeggedal. The path isn’t as well laid-out everywhere, but always is easy to follow. A sign every kilometer indicates how far to Trolltunga and Skjeggedal. Around 40 people are rescued annually from the trail, not because of the danger of the rock, but from getting lost in the fog, injuring themselves, or not being prepared for the difficulty of the hike.
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Break
Taking a break and enjoying the scenery at altitude 3636 ft (1108 m), about two-thirds of the way back to Skjeggedal.
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Bridges
Beautiful footbridges to cross two streams. Parking costs 500 NOK (54 USD) for the day in P2 and 600 NOK (64 USD) in P3. These payments are used to fund trail maintenance and supporting services.
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Ringedals Dam
View to Ringedals Dam from the top of the switchbacks that will take us back down to Skjeggedal. The dam, made from hand-carved granite, provides the reservoir for the Tyssedal Power Station and is the largest stone dam in Norway. With a reservoir capacity of 586 trillion gallons (222 million cubic meters), it was one of the largest gravity dams in Europe when completed in 1918.

We arrived back to Skjeggedal about eight hours after we’d departed. Cycling part of the distance helped reduce the time, as did climbing straight up instead of walking, but it still is on the long side. Some people give up on the hike to Trolltunga during the 2.5 miles (4km) of switchbacks with an average 12% grade. Those lucky enough to reserve one of the 30 spots in parking lot 3 can drive up to the top of the switchbacks to begin their climb.

Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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