This page offers an insight into a beautiful area in Norway. Jotunheimen - the home of the giants - is in my opinion one of the most impressive mountain regions in
Europe, especially due to the pristine nature of the environment and the quietness and remoteness of the majority of the peaks. Following his first visit to the area
in 1872, the Englishman William Cecil Slingsby wrote "We had seen a great deal of the country and had out first introduction to Jotunheim, or rather to the
borderland of that wild terrain. It was not to be wondered at that one of the two of us made up his mind to explore, at the earliest opportunity, its glens, gorges, and
glaciers, and to attempt the ascents of the finest peaks which rise so abruptly from the glaciers at their bases". Slingsby was of course referring to himself and he
returned in 1874, having a sprained ankle prevented him visiting in 1873. Norway as a whole is an vast country stretching across 13 degrees of latitude to far above
the arctic circle. This means that both the climate and the number of daylight hours differ quite significantly from southerly alpine regions. One thing you notice
when mountain walking here in the summer are the long days - it is a luxury not to be concerned about when it will get dark. I have been visiting Norway for over 15
years and the possibilities still appear to be endless. See my separate page about Slingsby's great mountaineering achievements in Norway.
Right, the mountain hotel at Turtagrø in western Jotunheimen with an
architecture that reflects the jagged peaks on its doorstep. The hotel lies on
the very edge of the greatest alpine environment north of the Alps - the
peaks of Hurrungane. It was here that in 1876, Slingsby made his greatest
climb in the country when he made the first ascent of Store Skagastølstind
(Storen) - at 2405m it is Norway's third highest mountain. Storen still repels
many experienced walkers and climbers due to its position, difficulty and
exposure. The Turtagrø Hotel was rebuilt in its modern form after a severe
fire in 2001. The original hotel dated back to 1888 and previously there was
a sæter her. The library in the hotel houses a fine collection of Norwegian
mountain literature. Besides a bed and good food, you can also get up to
date weather information here. The hotel is named after the plant Turt or
Mountain Sow Thistle (
Lactuca alpina) that once grew extensively in the area.

Below, from the front of the hotel a footpath rises towards Skarstølsbreen
and the normal route to Storen. The ridge in the picture joins the peaks of
Nordre, Midtre and Vetle Skarstølstind, all over 2000m, and finally Storen.
Walking eastwards from Turtagrø brings you into Helgedalen (below). At the end of the sheltered valley the path rises towards a small hut - Ekrehytta, where the
path divides for either Fannaråki or the plateau leading to Keisarpasset and Jervvatnet. Each year there is a mountain race from Turtagrø to the top of Fannaråki.
From the waters of Jervvatnet you get a good view of the ridge leading to Gjertvasstind with its 2351m. The peak terminates the eastern end of the classic ridge
traverse along Styggedalsryggen and over Storen which is not for the faint hearted. Dropping down from Jervvatnet along Jervassdalen leads to the upper part of
Utladalen. Utladalen is some 20km long and rises from the town of Øvre Årdal passing Vettisfossen, Norway's highest waterfall, en-route.
Above, enjoying perfect weather on the iron-rich summit rocks of Kyrkja. Below, the wonderful wooden architecture at Leirvassbu with many phrases carved into
the beams such as "Den som hev det for godt skal gifta sig" - "The one that has it too good, should marry".
Above, a view of the beautiful Visdalen in central Jotunheimen and right, Alpine Bearberry. Below, camping across the river from the lodge at Spiterstulen - a
wonderful base for activities in the area, although it gets busy during the main summer season as both Glittertind and Galdhøpiggen can be climbed from here.
In Slingsby's day there was a single two-room hut here "Spiterstul" another sæter - a summer residence for the shepherds who drove livestock up into the hills.
Above, the snout of Hellstugubrean 6km from Spiterstulen. There is a route between the lodges at Spiterstulen and Memurubu that takes you over Hellstugubrean
and the adjoining Vestre Memurubrean. Below, the view across Visdalen from the edge of Svellnosbrean and the icefall known as Eventyrisen to the spot above.
Above left and below, Issoleie or Glacier Crowfoot (Ranunculus glacialis) is Norway's national flower. The petals of the pink flower were originally white but the
flower has been pollinated. It holds the altitude record among flowering plants in Norway, being found above 2400m on Galdhøpiggen. Above right, reindeer
tracks on a glacier. Reindeer often venture onto glaciers to get relief from flies and the heat during the summer - but some never find their way off again.
Above, Spiterstulen is one of the largest lodges in Norway and it is centrally located making it very popular . You can drive to the lodge or take the bus from Lom,
which in turn has connections to the rest of Norway. You have to pay a road toll per vehicle at the lodge. Below right, the reception and guest book at Spiterstulen.
There are two main tourist routes to Galdhøpiggen - Norway's highest
summit - from Spiterstulen in Visdalen starting at 1104m and from
Juvasshytta which in situated on the plateau northeast of Galdhøpiggen at
1841m. The difference between the two routes, apart from the difference in
ascent, is that the one from Juvasshytta crosses the Styggebrean glacier
(above) for which there is daily guiding for turists from Juvasshytta during
the summer season. As an ascent of Galdhøpiggen is almost a national
requirement in Norway, the route from Juvasshytta is extremely popular
with a hundred or so making the summit in good weather most days in July
and August. Slingsby wrote "There is now a hut at the top of Galdhöpig, and
the ascent is made by scores of patriotic Norsemen and their lady friends
every year." Left, the summit of Galdhøpiggan. In contrast, a summit where
you are guaranteed to be alone is Skardstind (below). The route to this
summit requires 1300m of ascent from Leirdalen and two pitches of easy
rock climbing (with abseils on the descent) - a rewarding mountain!
The town of Lom north of Jotunheimen is a true alpine village with the
atmosphere in order and it is the perfect place for relaxing, refuelling and
supplies. The town with 2500 residents is a central stop for the bus routes
and is passed when driving across the north side of Jotunheimen. The
town has three camp sites close by, good outdoor shops and an outdoor
climbing tower (left), a tourist office and national park centre and last but
certainly not least - one of the best bakeries I have ever visited - "Bakeriet i
Lom" (above). In the centre of Lom there is also a wooden stave church
dating from 1150 (below). It is one of the largest stave churches in Norway.
One of Norway's absolute pearls is Gjende. Above, the lodge at Memurubu which lies halfway along Lake Gjende. Glacial melt water feeds the 17 kilometer
long lake. Memurubu is also the start or finishing point for the famous Besseggen Ridge - a narrow rocky crest high above lake Gjende (below).
September is a beautiful time to be in the Norwegian mountains. There are very few other people and the weather can be quite amazing. Below, the river Sjoa.
Finally below, a most impressive location by Lake Tyin south of the Jotunheimen National Park with the very characteristic Uranostinden left of centre.
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Above, Juvasshytta in the evening light with the snow capped summit of Glittertind beyond on the left. Below, looking across the summit of Glittertind from the
east. The summit is covered with a glacier and the snow cover causes the height of the mountain to vary from year to year. An ascent, even i summer, requires
crampons as the summit area is often icy and you also need to be careful of the corniced 400m sheer drop. The ascent is often made from the Glitterheim lodge.
Above, the self-service DNT lodge of Olavsbu with Store Rauddalseggje (2168m) and below, the first snowfall of Autumn near the summit of Mjølkedalstinden.
Above, the view from the summit of Kyrkja "The Church" westwards over Leirvatnet and the lodge at Leirvassbu with the Smørstabbtindane massif behind.
Below, one of the most impressive views in Jotunheimen - looking south from Tverrbytthornet to the solitary and perfectly symmetrical peak of Kyrkja (2032m).
Below, part of the town of Lom nestling in the valley with the view to the distant Rondane National park as seen from the top of the via ferrata.
Left, ascending the ridge of Store Urdadalstinden at the head of Visdalen
which is clearly visible from Spiterstulen - it is a wonderful route.
Above, the DNT lodge Skogadalsbøen is just visible at 831m above sea level in the forest in upper Utledalen. Behind the hut is Skogadalen and to the right,
Uradalen. The shapely peak on the right skyline is Stølsnostinden (2074m). From Skogadalsbøen there are trails into the central Jotunheimen.