On the glacier
Here is a little cheating with the definition of a peak. The highest point (1866 m) is certainly higher than its surroundings, but technically not a peak. If one would strip the plateau of its small icecap (200 m thick max) the surrounding rocky peaks would probably be higher. As long as there is no section “icecaps and ice sheets” in summitpost, I have to conclude that this is the best section to post this interesting dome-shaped ice plateau.
I decided to save you from locating the “ø” on your keyboard; the spot’s real name is Hardangerjøkulen
, literally meaning Hardanger glacier. Hardangerjøkulen is the fourth biggest glacial body of continental Norway, with an area of approximately 73 km2. The glacier consists of an ice dome and a dozen or so outlet glaciers, which are surprisingly stable despite the warming climate.
The area around and especially underneath Hardangerjøkulen is a culmination of the vast, desolate and rocky Hardanger plateau (Hardangervidda
) which extends further to the south and southeast. The Hardangervidda is a haven for wild reindeers, adventurers and hermits. The plateau averages between the 1200 and 1500 m above sea level. Due to the lack of big elevation differences, the Hardangervidda may at first sight seem very uninteresting to mountaineers, but if you are in for long days of hiking far away from crowds or harsh winter trekking under blizzard conditions and polar temperatures, consider this place.
The standard route to the top of the glacial dome is merely a hike or ski tour of ca 10 km from 1222 m to 1840 m. If you are lucky enough to make this trip on one of the rare clear days, the view is magnificent, with the spectacular Jotunheimen range in the north, the fantastic Hardangerplateau in the east and south and the massive glacier Folgefonna in the south-west. Though the hike to the summit is hardly a difficult one, there are numerous options for the adventurous glacial trekking.
The standard route is marked by the Norwegian trekking association from Easter until autumn. Although the route is also outlined on the maps of the region, published by the same organization, you may find the marked route in the field different than the one indicated on the map. The best advice is to follow the route as indicated on the glacier itself. This will take you to a long round trip over the summit of the ice plateau which, with good snow conditions, can be done in one day, both by foot or on skis.
This is the easy part. Hardangerjøkulen is the best accessible glacier in Norway, with the railroad between Bergen and Oslo passing within a few kilometers (or miles) from the glacier. There is a train station at Finse, a car free village at the foot of the glacial plateau.
Getting there by train from: Oslo: 4.5 hrs
Bergen: 2.5 hrs
If you come from Trondheim, you have to take the train to Oslo and switch trains half way. These trains go 24 hours a day but not that often, so plan your trip carefully. If you arrive by boat in Flåm at the Sognefjord, you can take Flåmsbanen railway and switch trains to Finse in Myrdal
Finse, not more than a few farms and summer cottages, has a small shop, a full board hotel (Finse1222) and a hut (Finsehytta), the latter of which has many optional facilities; from a simple place to sleep to a full board hotel, though cheaper than the Finse1222. Both are an excellent starting point for the normal round trip route over the glacial dome.
Due to the relative ease of access of this area, it may get crowded on days with good weather, especially with Easter, so make reservations. On many other days your will find yourself in total solitude.
If you want to explore the icecap approaching from the east, the best starting point is the hut Rembesdalseter, which allows access to the most beautiful outlet glacier Rembesdalskåka. Take into consideration that for access to this hut you have to contact DNT (www.turistforeningen.no)
) prior to your trip.
Camping / Map
Camping is allowed almost everywhere in Norway, as long as you are more than 200 meters from private terrain. Especially huts do expect nearby campers to obey this law, and probably want them even further away. The village Finse has put some restrictions on camping in their drinking water supply area, but this is not on the route to the glacier.
There are two emergency shelters near the glacier. These are well marked on the map of the area. Take into consideration that a suitable place to camp will be hard to find on the vast flat glacier, especially if it is in case of an emergency.
There are two public shelters in the area. The shelter jøkulhytta is on the route from Finse to the summit of Hardangerjøkulen, at approximately 8 km. The shelter Ramneredet is quite a hike away from the standard route and close to tricky terrain to navigate. Both shelters and other huts in the vicinity are marked on the best map
for the area:
ref #: 2241
published by Den Norske Turistforeningen
Norway, as well as the rest of Western Europe, receives relatively mild temperatures from the Gulf Stream. With this warmth also comes a lot of moist and consequently heavy loads of snow. The combination of heavy snow and strong western winds is not the sort of weather you want to end up with no shelter. Keep in mind that Hardangerjøkulen is at the same latitude as Mt St Elias. A polar northern wind in wintertime can throw the temperature back to an arctic level.
Crowds can be a problem in public holidays. Easter and 17th of May are notorious, esspecially when the weather is good.
Also be prepared for less than zero visibility which can persist for days. If you go off the marked track, do so with a GPS. Despite the fact that some Norwegians make this trip with their children, people have died here.
External LinksThe weather in Finse
For ordering maps, checking out huts, take guided tours etc, contact
(the Norwegian trekking association).
For timetables and booking tickets for the train from/to Finse:
For the mountaineers who happen to be geek in their spare time. Finse and the Hardangerplateau were the shooting locations of “Star Wars. The Empire Strikes Back” featuring the ice planet “Hoth”. Add a light saber to your gear… And be prepared to face this