Looking out over Norway from the 2,469 metre peak of Galdhøpiggen is a unique experience. Although several trails lead to the top, the most accessible route starts at Juvasshytta cabin.
The view from Norway’s highest peak, Galdhøpiggen, is simply breathtaking. The towering giant is the tallest mountain in Norway, as well as the highest in Northern Europe. When the sky is clear, you’ll have panoramic views of the surrounding Jotunheimen mountains.
Mount Galdhøpiggen in Eastern Norway is popular among Norwegian hikers and tourists alike. But the path to the top requires both balance, cooperation and stamina. The shortest route begins at the Juvasshytta cabin. A guide is required since you’ll have to cross the Styggebreen glacier.
A guided glacier walk
The Juvasshytta mountain lodge is situated on the mountain, about a 30-minute drive from the village of Lom. At 1,840 metres above sea level, the popular tourist cabin offers accommodation for tired hikers. Here, way above the treeline, the ground is solid permafrost, covered by rocks in all shapes and sizes.
Both Juvasshytta and Spiterstulen are natural starting points for hiking up Galhøpiggen. From here, you have a view of the mighty peak and the trail that snakes up through the boulders.
One of the highlights of the roughly three-hour long hike is the fascinating Styggebreen glacier. The glacier's name, composed of the words stygg and bre, means ‘ugly glacier’.
“The glacier itself is not ugly, though. The glacier got its name because the stygg also means ‘dangerous’ in the local dialect,” as Erlend Vindenes always tells eager hikers.
He works as a glacier guide and has climbed Galdhøpiggen no less than 70 (!) times.
“The glacier can be dangerous since we can’t see the cracks that are covered in snow,” he says.
Before crossing the glacier, everyone in the group must put on a harness attached to a long rope. This is standard procedure on glacier walks.
Norway’s deep fjords and high mountain tops were created when the ice retracted during the last Ice Age. Today, the landscape attracts a multitude of visitors every year. Many hikes, including the one to Galdhøpiggen, are considered safe as long as you take a few precautions.
“You need to respect the glacier,” says Dawa Chhiri.
Mr Chhiri is a Nepalese Sherpa who has guided tourists to Norway’s highest peak for more than ten years. Glaciers are constantly moving, and their cracks expand and retract according to the weather conditions and seasons. It's therefore essential to have the right equipment and always be accompanied by a certified glacier guide.
Hikers of all ages
After safely crossing the glacier, there’s only one last hurdle between you and the top: a steep, snow-covered ascent that will test both your strength and your stamina.
Some people take a short break, while others press determined onwards. The strain is quickly forgotten when you reach the top. Here, you can enjoy a well-deserved break with a snack and a hot drink while admiring the view.
Although the route can be challenging, around 25,000 visitors complete the hike every summer. Children must be at least seven years old to cross the glacier. They should also be accustomed to hiking in in mountainous terrain on walks that last several hours.
“The oldest hiker we’ve guided to the top was 86 years old,” says Per Arne Vole, glacier guide and manager at Juvasshytta mountain lodge.
You can also hike to Galdhøpiggen from Spiterstulen cabin. However, the trail from Spiterstulen is longer and more demanding. It takes an estimated nine hours to climb the mountain and return to the cabin. You don't need a guide for this hike, as it does not include crossing the glacier, but you can also join guided hikes from Spiterstulen.
The area offers an abundance of other exciting activities, like summer skiing, treetop climbing, guided horseback riding, and glacier walks. Travel back in time through the ice tunnel at the Climate Park. Sample Lom’s famous cinnamon buns or visit its ziplines, theme park, or Norwegian Mountain Center. Spend an unforgettable night in a traditional valley farm. Hike one of the many trails in the area. Plan your trip to Jotunheimen today!
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