The iconic photo of Trolltunga has taken over social media in the recent past, and it is easy to see why. I can safely say the experience made for one of the best weekends I have ever had.
Our adventure started with a three-hour drive from Bergen to Odda. All our group coming from the Southern Hemisphere, we were not too confident about having to be on the left side of the car, on the right side of the road. Somehow, I got nominated driver, and had to fully embrace this cultural difference. This was not aided by our choice in taking the ‘scenic route’, which equated to narrow, windy roads with no lane markings, alongside cliff-faces. As a truck came towards me, there was a terrifying life-and-death moment. In the space of three hours we had sunshine, light rain, heavy rain, and hail; we successfully experienced every season. And this was only the start of our wonderful weekend.
The day following was our long 22km hike to Trolltunga peak. The first 1.7km had a 900m incline. This proved an interesting start to the day. And then we still had just over 9km to our destination. The whole way provided amazing views, and unreal moments. The sun was out for us, but stopping for more than 5 minutes meant unbearable cold. We had lunch with our feet hanging over the edge of a fjord, surrounded by snow. It felt like we were in a bizarre wonderland. By the last 2km, the snow had really set in. It was white for as far as the eye could see, and very deep. Four hours in, we were all quite exhausted, myself especially. This resulted in many a fall in the snow. I lost count after about five slides, but think the number got well over 20. Thank gosh the snow was nice and soft to catch me! At least I kept the rest of the group entertained with such grace.
The feeling when we finally made it to the top was indescribable. Hiking this 11km, we had somehow made it to a little slice of magic. We all lined up to take the perfect photo for Instagram, climbing out on the rock. Surprisingly, walking and sitting on the rock was one of the safest parts of the day. The view into the fjords was incredible, and one I will likely never forget.
Unfortunately, doing 11km to the top meant we had 11km to get back down. While the adrenaline from our accomplishment lasted us for the first while, the way down was incredibly challenging. The snow was a more dangerous on the downhill, and there were moments of white-out fog where you couldn’t see 20m in front of you. Climbs that seemed to take no time at all on the way up were never-ending on the way down.
And then it got dark. The last 4km of our hike was done in complete black. Unfortunately, the first 1km of the hike is known as the hardest, which means the last 1km of the hike is also a real challenge. We were ascending at a dangerous incline, visible only through tiny torches, where it was very muddy, and we could see very little. Ignoring the physical factor, after 21km, this was one of the hardest mental things to get through.
Eventually, we made it to the bottom – all in one piece – though our knees will never be the same. Our adrenaline was running high, with lots of enthusiasm that night as we tried to stretch through our pain. Climbing stairs the next day, however, was one of the hardest things about the weekend!
Norway is one of my favourite countries in Europe. Exploring Bergen and Trolltunga has cemented this immensely. Although pictures of people sitting on that huge rock are becoming more common, it really has to be experienced to properly appreciate how amazing the place is.