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?
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.
as seen soon after we begun our
climb to Galdhøpiggen.
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.
Stefan and Niklas slowly moving up the snowy
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.
Claes and Stefan in the hunt for the lost
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:
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.
and Niklas taking a well needed break and
seizing the opportunity to enjoy the scenery.
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.
In the center: A first glimpse of Galdhøpiggen with one
a half hour left to climb.
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.
way!! A small cabin at the peak!
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!
Two happy and pleased hikers who
have just enjoyed a couple of
sandwiches looking out over a
divinely gifted scenery.
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...
2469 meters above sea level: Galdhøpiggen!
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...