Wednesday, 23 July, 1997

After a good night's well needed sleep, we woke up to this day of climbing. It was now important to have a decent breakfast. There were two options at hand. Either a breakfast buffet for 90 NOK or a lighter alternative for 50 NOK. We chose the latter one. But it was a fair size breakfast anyway and it also included a paper bag so you could easily bring some sandwiches up on the mountain. Which was perfect, no need to worry about a packed lunch now. Some nourishment would be necessary during the 7-8 hours we expected to be up on the mountain today. And even more important was of course water. In order to have as little weight as possible to carry in hour backpacks, we hoped that it would be enough with one liter per person. Maybe we could refill our water bottles in some creek or something. One thing that is easy to forget is to put on some sun lotion. A friendly advice: Don't forget to do that!! The sun burns very easily at this altitude and all the snow reflect the ultraviolet radiation even more.

At 9:50am the next morning we stood ready at the bottom of the mountain we the day before had looked upon with some degree of agony. Actually, we still did... Dressed in only t-shirts, shorts and jogging shoes we begun our climb upwards. In our backpacks we had some extra clothes in case of bad/cold weather, water and a package of food containing (in my case) a few sandwiches with ham and cheese plus small packages of strawberry jam (leftovers from the breakfast), a Mars bar, raisins and some energy boosting tablets. The camera was also close at hand of course. We left the money in our room. Surely we would have no use for that kind of thing up here, right?

 Spiterstulen as seen soon after we begun our
 climb to Galdhøpiggen.
The weather was rather cloudy and with just a perfect temperature - not to cold, not to hot. And cloudy weather would be preferred, or else the sun would be increasing the temperature considerably. And it would be hot enough due to the physical effort. But of course it would be better with sunny weather than rainy. If it were to begin raining we would be pretty much without chance of reaching the top. Except from getting soaking wet, it would not be the easiest and safest thing to slip around on the rocks in our not so very suitable jogging shoes.

 Stefan and Niklas slowly moving up the snowy
During the first half hour the surroundings were green and the ground was still of soil and sand but as soon as we got past the tree line it became more and more rocky. At about this time the sun broke through the clouds and with it a noticeable increase in temperature. Phew! Soon it was all a constant navigation to find the best suited path and the right piece of rock to take your next step on. In order to find the shortest line up the mountain and also the least demanding one, you had to keep your eyes focused a bit up the mountain and at the same time watch your step.
Even more snow...
 Claes and Stefan in the hunt for the lost
And like this it went on until around 11:30 am when we had the chance to choose an alternative way through a larger area covered in snow. Already tired of all the rocks we chose this alternative with the belief that it would be the easier one. But it should prove to be even more demanding of course. It was heavy wet snow where you all the time had to take every step with caution not to slip on the very slippery surface material. Obviously our shoes gave us little or no grip, so you all the time had to kick the tip of your feet into the snow to minimize the risk of falling.

Ahh, that was nice.

 Stefan and Niklas taking a well needed break and
 seizing the opportunity to enjoy the scenery.

After almost an hour of slipping in the snow we were again back on more solid ground and now stopped a while to rest and have some water. We had now climbed over half the distance and would reach the top in about two hours. Unfortunately we could see how storm clouds piled themselves up behind us. But ahead of us and at our present location the sun was shining and it was almost no wind at all. (The calm before the storm?) With renewed powers we continued with determined steps upwards and soon after 1:00 pm we could finally catch a glimpse of the objective of our tiresome hike: Galdhøpiggen! Many times we had believed to seen it before, but it had shown to be just one of the peaks on the way. But not this time.
 In the center: A first glimpse of Galdhøpiggen with one and
 a half hour left to climb.
Now there was no doubt. A bit disheartening though was the fact that we would have to first climb up for a good while, and then down again on the other side, before it was time for the final move to get to the top. But this was hardly anything that could stop us now when we had caught the scent of our goal.

An unexpected sight

 No way!! A small cabin at the peak!

At 2:15 pm we could finally, with somewhat numb legs, take the last few steps to reach the top. Here we were at first very surprised to see a cabin all covered with rocks (to prevent it from blowing away!) where you could buy souvenirs!! Money could have been useful after all, even at such a remote place as this. I really wonder how the people working there got to work every day? Maybe they stayed up there for a few days and were then replaced by others? Nevertheless, quite a tough way to get to work! The peak had many visitors this warm day of July. Probably about 40 people were crowded together on this small surface which makes up the summit of the highest peak in northern Europe.
2469 meters above sea level
 Two happy and pleased hikers who
 have just enjoyed a couple of
 sandwiches looking out over a
 divinely gifted scenery.
We sat down on some rocks, opened our food packages and were simply amazed by the scenery. What a sight! It was almost breathtaking. Such views I had only seen on postcards before! Furthermore the weather was still absolutely beautiful. Sunny and hot and with practically no wind at all, how that now can even be possible at the top of a 2469 meters high mountain!? Here we could have stayed for the rest of the day, but since we wanted to get back to base camp before dark, or before any possible storm breaks, we had to settle with 45 minutes. But that was quite astonishing 45 minutes!

The peak
 2469 meters above sea level: Galdhøpiggen!
At 3:00 pm we begun our descent back down towards Spiterstulen. The climb to the top took about 4.5 hours and according to what we had heard it was possible to get back down on half the time it took to get up. If it was the thighs that took the beating on the way up, it was the knees who had to do all the work on the way down. We had initially planned to spend the next day with some downhill skiing at the nearby summer ski center, but the farther down we came the more we begun to realize that we would probably have very aching legs by then. But now an advantage with our slippery tennis shoes now revealed itself: we could use them as "skis" in the snow covered areas we had to cross. Here we cut a lot of time. An area which took half an hour to cross on the way up, took with this method only 5-10 minutes! The only trick was to focus real hard on your balance, flap your arms for weight distribution and simply ignore the fact that your feet got so chilled by the cold snow burying them up to the ankles that you could hardly feel them. In this manner we went past a number of people who with raised eyebrows surely wondered about those lunatics. Hehe...

When we were half way down, the clouds became more and more thick. We could see how the rain poured down in several places around us, but so far not directly in our path. But it seemed more and more threatening so we increased the pace as much as our legs and knees would let us. With only about half an hour left until we were down again and with Spiterstulen now in sight, we could see how an huge area with rainfall moved into the valley with direction towards our destination. Now it would be a struggle to escape the rain. Should we make it back before the heavy rainstorm were over us, or should we be forced to pack down a number of soaking wet clothes the following day? We fought has hard as we possibly could, but as we were almost down, with only 5 minutes left to roof over our heads, then the rain caught us. It was a very heavy downpour so we did just give up our run at that instant. We would get all soaking wet anyway. When we got back to our room we hung our clothes everywhere we could so that they would hopefully get at least somewhat dry, before it was time to pack them in our backpacks. We put our shoes for a few hours on a radiator in a shower room. (Note: Drying cabinets were to be found at the installation, even basement at the same building we were staying at, but we didn't realize this until the next morning when it was time for us to leave!)

Later that night we began to feel the result of the exposure to the sun we had this day. The back of my neck now had a nice even suntan as I was clever enough to apply some highly protective sun lotion at that are of my body. But actually I don't think that clever is a word I should use about myself, because if I had really been clever I would of course had put on some sun lotion to my calves! Obviously they are as exposed as the back of the neck when you climb with the sun in your back wearing shorts. I had this memory of my stupidity and the burning sensation with me for the rest of the trip.

This second and last evening in Spiterstulen we spend with some food and a couple of cold beers in the restaurant were we at the same time could enjoy some local dancing games. When we finally got to bed, none of us had any difficulties to fall asleep...