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A person standing alone at Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) in sunshine
Morning at Preikestolen.
Photo: Paul Edmundson
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“Oh my god, oh my god.” Pieter Coppens holds his head in his hands and wanders restlessly about the plateau, his gaze flickering between the fjord and the mountains beyond the edge of the cliff.

Text: Mikael Lunde

Mere inches away, the ground beneath his feet abruptly comes to an end, turning into a dead drop of more than 600 metres. The sun has just peeked through the thick layer of trollish fog over the Lysefjord. The view that emerges from atop the Pulpit Rock shortly after dawn is one for which you cannot possibly prepare.

A primaeval, spiritual atmosphere pervades this place, something that reaches to the core of where and why beliefs and superstitions appeared in the first place. Nature is so raw, so massive and overwhelming that it feels eternal. Not (merely) beautiful or pretty, rather the Pulpit is violent, incomprehensible, dizzying. Divine. And that’s why you can hear it: Oh my god.

Preikestolen

Preikestolen.
Photo: Mikael Lunde

Four hours earlier

On the edge of the cliff stands a solitary tent. Farther up the slope two travellers sit in silence, a few feet apart – in the dead of night. They gaze at the misty landscape in shades of grey and blue. On the stone itself, a small group of young backpackers are chatting quietly. All of them are here for the same reason: to experience something unforgettable.

It’s not yet 6 AM when the sun breaks through for the first time. The fjord reveals itself bathed in a magical light that makes it hard to determine where the water ends and the sky begins.

Still inside the tent on the edge of the cliff, the 22‐year‐old Belgians Pieter Coppens and Dieter de Feytens are fast asleep – less than two feet separating their heads from a free fall as high as two Eiffel Towers. “We actually slept pretty well”, says Pieter when they wake up somewhat later in the morning. He begins the day by stretching his arms towards the sky, feet planted at the hard, rocky ground – his toes at the very edge.

Preikestolen

Preikestolen.
Photo: Mikael Lunde

Talking to the gods

At the edge, one might let the mind wander – towards nature itself, characterized by life and death and renewal, seasons that come and go. But even then, something remains firm. Places where generations can experience the same views and share experiences across time.

“I heard it got the name because one can stand here and talk to the gods. Because one comes so close”, says Pieter Coppens. “I can understand that. To stand here – it gives me almost a spiritual feeling.”

Preikestolen

Preikestolen.
Photo: Mikael Lunde

One life

The two of them arrived just before midnight the night before. Well prepared, with hiking boots, a trekking cooking set, a good knife, and a leather full of water. The tent they really didn’t want to use, but a shower caused them to change their minds. In any case, they were always going to sleep on the edge: “We heard from some friends that it was amazing. So it was”, says Dieter de Feyter. He encourages everyone to travel and to seek out these kinds of experiences.

“You learn so much about yourself”, he says. Adding, perhaps as much to himself as anyone else: “You have only this one life.”

Life and one’s place in it all may be something you will come to think about in the face of raw nature at the top of the Pulpit Rock.

Plan your trip to Preikestolen

Safety in the mountains

Return to hike another day

Norway is an incredible place to explore, with untamed mythical landscapes, mountains, valleys, and fjords. Before you enter the outdoors, get familiar with the nine simple rules of the Norwegian mountain code to help you stay safe.

  1. Plan your trip and inform others about the route you have selected.
  2. Adapt the planned routes according to ability and conditions.
  3. Pay attention to the weather and the avalanche warnings.
  4. Be prepared for bad weather and frost, even on short trips.
  5. Bring the necessary equipment so you can help yourself and others.
  6. Choose safe routes. Recognize avalanche terrain and unsafe ice.
  7. Use a map and a compass. Always know where you are.
  8. Don’t be ashamed to turn around.
  9. Conserve your energy and seek shelter if necessary.

Read the mountain code with supplementary comments.

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