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Jotunheimen Jotunheimen
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Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life AS - Visitnorway.com
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Return to hike another day

Even people who have been enjoying Norway’s many mountains their entire lives have a healthy respect for them, and take care to be well prepared for every eventuality.

There is much to enjoy among the peaks, valleys and plateaus, but the beauty and serenity can quickly turn dangerous. Make sure your training, your knowledge of the area, and your equipment, are all equally well suited for the trip.

For instance, before you set out you should let people know where you are going, and when you expect to be there. Consider the weather reports - not only where you are going, but nearby as well - and keep in mind that conditions might deteriorate.

Any time you’re in an unfamiliar area, you should bring a map, compass and a mobile phone. There are many places in the mountains without mobile coverage, but you might get lucky, so don’t leave it behind.

If you lose your way, however, be on the lookout for cairns of rocks, which are usually found beside well-established paths. Spaced so that the next one along is within sight, they will guide you to safety if you should get lost, even in poor visibility. In many popular hiking areas they will be arranged in parallel lines across the landscape to make it easier to pick up the trail.

Emergency telephone numbers

  • 110 - Fire
  • 112 - Police
  • 113 - Ambulance
  • 120 - Emergency at sea
  • 22 59 13 00 - Poisons Information Centre
  • 1412 TDD (textphone for the deaf or hearing impaired)

In the dead of winter

Many of the precautions you should take in the summer are also valid for the winter, but to an even greater extent: When it’s cold, it’s even more important to dress in layers of wool, not to get wet, and to wear windproof outer garments.

Stay warm, dry and hydrated

Hypothermia is what you want to avoid in the wintertime. Staying dry helps, as does having enough warm clothing. If you have an accident and have to spend the night, make sure you conserve enough energy to dig a cave in the snow, or set up a snow shelter against the wind.

Make sure to insulate yourself from the ground or the snow if you have to lie down - skis are great for this, if not exactly comfortable. A large backpack can be used as a small makeshift sleeping bag, and even a small one may keep your feet warm and dry.

If you get thirsty, don’t be afraid to eat snow as long as it looks clean and untouched. It will cool you down somewhat, but dehydration will most often be a bigger concern than hypothermia.

Protect your eyes

Even though it’s winter, you should take care to bring sunglasses, as the glare from the snow can be quite intense and cause snow-blindness in extreme cases.

Signal for help

If you get lost, stay where you are and wait for help. Sticking your skis in the snow will make it easier for others to spot where you are.

Avoid avalanches

Avoid walking on and below overhangs and other avalanche-prone places, particularly if you spot traces of avalanches elsewhere around you. You can’t outrun or outski an avalanche, so the best thing to do is avoiding them altogether.

The mountain code

Stay safe by following these simple rules of thumb:
  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.

In the height of summer

Even in the summer, when the sun is out and warming nicely, you should pay attention to what clothes you wear and bring along. Make sure to shield yourself from the sun, and to be prepared if the weather should turn bad.

Dress for warmth

A windproof jacket is a must, as is woollen underwear, even on warm summer days. The mountain winds can get quite cold, and wool will still insulate you from the cold even when it’s wet - a property it does not share with cotton or nylon fabrics, for instance. Dress in layers so you can easily regulate your temperature.

Drink frequently

If you get lost, conserve your strength, but remember to eat and drink frequently. Sun, wind, and strenuous physical activity may conspire to make you dehydrated, even if you do not feel thirsty. Most running water in the mountains of Norway is clean enough to drink, but avoid water running through pastures or runoff from glaciers, as this may contain harmful microorganisms.

Keep your distance to wild animals

Remember that certain animals can be dangerous, and should best be given a wide berth. Polar bears, musk oxen, bears, and moose are all faster than you are, and can cause harm if frightened, surprised or defending their young.

Move downhill for help

If you have to be on the move to get help, walk downhill and try to follow creeks or rivers, as these will often lead to habitation.

On glaciers

Never venture onto a glacier alone. If you want to go hiking on a glacier, make sure you are accompanied by a certified guide.

Where to go

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