National day on Galdhøpiggen
Every year I celebrate the national day of Norway in the same way: in the city surrounded by thousands of people. It’s a beautiful spectacle, but it can become overwhelming. For the longest time I’ve wanted to celebrate Norway’s national day in a different manner which is more akin to my personality and interests.
When I discovered that Ronja had the same interest we decided to do something which is different, yet somewhat traditional, which is to hike up Galdhøpiggen. It’s Norways highest mountain, and at 2.469 meters it is easily accessible, at least when you start off from Juvasshytta at 1.841 meters.
If you’re thinking about doing it yourself I recommend that you plan on being at Juvasshytta on May 16. We were lucky to have perfect weather, so the queue to get up to Juvasshytta on the morning of the 17th was quite long, and parking is limited. We also had some trouble with our car on our way from Bergen, so having extra time on your hand makes for a relaxing and pleasant experience.
Because of the time of year and the altitude, you may need winter tires. We were unsure wether we’d need it or not but decided to change to winter tires and brought snow chains just to be safe.
We booked their last available room about a week before arrival, but you can also choose to pitch your own tent for 50 kroner per person per night or stay in the parking lot with a mobile home/camper for 300 kroner per night. With both of these options you have access to all the facilities of Juvasshytta, like toilets, shower, lounge and so on. The surrounding area is quite rocky, but the remaining snow makes it possible to pitch a tent near Juvasshytta.
Since the hike from Juvasshytta to Galdhøpiggen crosses a glacier, you would normally have to rope up, and go with a guide if you’re not experienced, but at this time of year (May 17) it’s considered safe to ski over the glacier without any glacier/climbing gear if you follow the tracks.
The hike starts at 10.00 from Juvasshytta, and it takes about two hours to the top. We chose to ski up and across the glacier, and then leave our skis and do the final leg up to Galdhøpiggen on foot. It’s a bit steep here and there, but fairly easy for most people.
On the top (and if you’re lucky with the weather) you’ll have one of the best views of Norway. We stayed there for about an hour and a half just taking in the views.
Heading down takes less than an hour, and it’s pretty straightforward, unless you try to impress your girlfriend with your telemark skills.
Instead of driving straight back to Bergen we decided to camp somewhere in the mountains on the way back, and it was fascinating to see how many people were doing just that on the national day. We pitched our tent near Tindevegen, not far from Turtagrø.
One last tip is to wear sunscreen, and lots of it. I didn’t, for some strange reason, and got a hefty sunburn. Lesson learned.
For more information about Juvasshytta, visit: www.juvasshytta.no