Norway was put on this planet for photographer, I’m absolutely convinced by that!
I recently made a journey to Norway, specifically to the amazing, majestic fjords of the South, and one of the missions while I was there was to make the climb to Kjeragbolten.
My master plan was to reach the famous rock, which is wedged between two cliff faces atop the mountain, some 1km above the fjord below, for sunrise. It was about 10km hike up the equivalent of 157 storeys, so it was going to take some time. Adding to the challenge was the fact the there were three plateaus on the ascent, each one followed by a sharp descent before the subsequent ascent, meaning that every time I climbed I would lose the height I’d gained and have to climb it again with an additional climb the next time. This was a serious morale killer, but I pushed on! I left the car in the dark at 1am to start my climb.
To make matters worse, rewinding a little, while driving through the mountain roads to the trailhead I was met time and again by this: –
Yep, those sheep are just sleeping across the road! They’re lucky I saw them!
On the way up, at around the halfway point, there’s an emergency hut made from the granite stone that makes up the mountain, which gives an idea of how dangerous a walk this is. These emergency huts are across many mountain ranges and typically contain blankets, water, and food to keep the stricken hiker warm and nourished until they can proceed with their journey or seek rescue. It didn’t exactly fill me with confidence, but it certainly spurred me on and made me realise I was actually achieving something here.
All along the way there are clues to point out the right path. Sometimes there are red markers and all the way there are stone piles which, although useful, don’t all go the same way. There are other routes across the mountain and these stone piles highlight all of them, so it’s important to use a compass to work out which path of stone piles is the right one!
I reached the summit at about 4am and walked across the final plateau, all chuffed with myself, in time to catch the sunrise over the fjord way below me and to see the famous Kjeragbolten, carried there by glacial ice flows however many years ago when the last ice age caused the ice to reach this far south, leaving this rock wedged in such a curious way with a sheer drop beneath it.
The walk back down wasn’t quite as ‘down’ as I would have liked, with the plateau’s meaning I was still making three steep, long ascents as well, but the rewarding feeling was boosting my energy levels just as much as the beautiful views of the sun still rising over the fjords and mountains along the way.
If you’re considering doing the Kjerag hike it’s worth noting that, even by Norwegian standards, it’s rated as ‘hard’ but it’s well worth it in the right weather conditions!