Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Lat/Lon: 68.17910°N / 14.22880°E
County: Nordland
Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing
Season: Summer
Elevation: 1936 ft / 590 m


Presten 590 m

“Deep, placid fjords, jagged rocky peaks, a historic and geologic masterpiece” - National Geographic, September 2007

These ones are the best words to define Lofoten i’d ever heard! Lofoten archipelago, including five big and five smaller islands, lies off Norway's Northern coast, West to Narvik and about 200 km North to the Polar Arctic Circle. These breathtaking islands offer a wide choice of granite rock-climbing as well as both winter mountaineering and summer scrambling.
Surely Lofoten islands are one of most charming climbing area in the world: climbing on these cliffs gives exciting sensations and unspeakable views over a unique seascape. Notwithstanding their moderate altitude – the highest mountain, Higrattinden, is only 1116 mt. high - these peaks are truly extraordinary.

Presten from the coast-road
Presten from the coast-road
Djupfjorden from Presten summit
A breathtaking view of Djupfjorden from the summit

Presten (The Priest) is surely one of the best known cliffs on Lofoten: a majestic 400 m granite bulk straight up from the ocean, situated close to Henningsvær, a charming village nicknamed “Lofoten’s Venice” in the South-Western end of Austvågøy, Lofoten’s largest island (Vågan Municipality). Presten unmistakable outline overlooks with its famous granite “Nose” the coastal road running to Henningsvær, giving unforgettable views when seen from here. A great number of routes run on its West face, but the classic one is Vestpillaren (West Pillar). This is the original route of the face, climbing a system of corners and cracks on the right hand side of the "Nose".

Getting There

Getting to the Lofoten archipelago

There are various possibilities:

- By car from Evenes Airport to Svolvær
- By ferry boat from Skutvik to Svolvær or Skrova (North of Lofoten)
- By ferry boat from Bodø to Moskenes, Værøy or Røst (South of Lofoten)
- By plane from Bodø

Rorbuer in Henningsvaer
Midnight sun at Henningsvaer
Henningsvaer, midnight sun

Getting to Presten

It's possible to get to the cliff directly from Svolvær, Lofoten major center, in about 20 km along E10 road and also from Kabelvåg, in about 15 km. along E10, turning to left to Henningsvær (Road 816) at E10 and Road 816 forking. Otherwise the shortest way to approach the cliff is from Henningsvær (less then 5 km.), or from Lyngvær (less then 5 km), a good place along E10, about 20 km. West to Svolvær.


Climbing in Lofoten started in 1889, when two local fishermen realized Vagakallen’s first ascent.
At the beginning of last century some British alpinists, and mainly William Slingsby, started to climb in the islands. On 1910 a Norwegian party (C.W. Rubenson, A.B. Bryn, F.Schjeldrup ) climb Svolvær Geita (Svolvær Goat) – a peak overlooking Svolvær - in first ascent. 

Last corner on Vestpillaren, Presten
A shallow corner on Vestpillaren
Presten seen from Flakstadøy
Presten seen from Flakstadoy

Successively, mainly Norwegian and British parties visited Lofoten. On the Sixties, the Nesheim brothers from Tromso and the local Arild Meyer realized the first ascent of some hard routes, like Vestpillaren on Presten and Great Pillar on Vagakallen, while H.C. Doseth climbed Vestpillaren all free climbing for the first time. In last years mainly Norwegian and USA teams, Ed Webster between these latter, realized several big walls first ascents.

Presten, enjoying the summit seascape
Presten, enjoying the summit seascape

Presten climbing routes overview

Presten climbing routes from left hand to right hand - Norwegian Scale

- "Himmel og Helvete" (Heaven and Hell)  - 7, 560 m.
- "To krigere" (Two Warriors)  - 7, A3
- "Korstoget" (The Crusade)  - 7, 385 m.
- "Ypperstepresten" (The High Priest)  -  6, 160 m + 60 m. across Storhylla
- "Biskopen" (The Bishop)  -  6-, A0 220 m. + 60 m. across Storhylla
- "The Codfather"  - 7, 465 m.

Thin cracks on Vestpillaren, Presten (Lofoten)
Thin cracks on Vestpillaren
An exciting seascape from Vestpillaren on Presten, Lofoten
An exciting seascape from Vestpillaren

- "Sondagskole turen" (Sunday School Outing)  -  7, 170 m.
- "Reisen" (The journey)  - 7+, 440 mt.
- "Vestpillaren Direct Start" (The West Pillar)  -  6, 470 m.
- "Vestpillaren Original Start"  - 6, 450 m.
- "Himmelen kan vente" (Heaven Can Wait)  - 6+, 310 m.
- "Klokkeren" (The Bell Ringer)  - 7-, 450 m.

Vestpillaren sixth pitch's corner - Presten, Lofoten
Vestpillaren sixth pitch corner

Other climbing info here:


Not a problem. The descent is substantially easy and requires 2 hours.
From the summit heads towards East, then scramble along a ridge, gaining a rocky saddle between Festvagstinden (541 m.) on the right and Budalstinden (663 m.) on the left. From here there are two different descent ways:

- from the col cross the ridge and do a short dowmclimb to gain a steep vegetated gully, with enormous ferns, dropping to North-East. Follow it to its end, then traverse West (right) along blocks and grass, reaching the beautiful water-mirror of Heiavatnet, the ancient Henningsvær water reservoir. From the lake a well worn and steep track leads to Festvag, on the coast road between the parking below Presten and Henningsvær

- from the col follow the ridge towards right (easier but longer) to the Festvagtinden, reaching the path that descends to Heiavatnet. From the lake here same track to the road as the previous way

Hiking and scrambling

Presten summit
Summit of Presten
Heiavatnet a small lake on the track to Presten
Heiavatnet a small lake on normal route to Presten

This itinerary, as well as being the descent route for who have climbed the Presten West wall, is a nice tour that allows you to reach the small lake named Heivatnet and the summit of Festvagtinden.
The trail starts from Festvag, on the coast road, close to Henningsvær; a well worn path rises to the beautiful small lake named Heiavatnet, the ancient Henningsvær water reservoir. From the lake a path heading left leads to the top of Festvagtinden mt. 541, a peak close to Presten (2 hours and a half from Festvag), or otherwise, by an easy scramble on the summit crest, to the top of Presten.

Red Tape

No particular restrictions in climbing and hiking

Lofoten map

The surroundings

Presten from Djupfjord
Presten from Djupfjord
Getting to Henningsvær
Getting to Henningsvaer

Stunning Vagakallen seen from Henningsvær
Stunning Vagakallen seen from Henningsvaer
A small island from Vestpillaren, Presten (Lofoten)
A small island seen from Presten

When to climb

Lofoten are famous for their weather conditions, which sometimes can be a bit "a lottery", though sometimes “High Scandinavian” and “Gulf Stream’s” warming effects can give you blu sky and sunshine. However best months for climbing are late May, June, July and August.

Where to stay

Presten map

Camping - In Norway camping is allowed in every place, if not expressly forbidden. Best free campsites in this area are located in Festing, in front of the Gandalf cliff, and Paradiset, just close to Henningsvaer.
The nearest equipped campsite is the Lyngvaer Bobilcamping (campers, tents and cabins), 20 km. West to Svolvær and strictly close to the E10 - R816 road forking, a few kilometers from Presten.
Another campsite is “Sandvika”, between Svolvær and Henningsvær, and the nearby Orsvagvær.


Midnight sun, Lofoten
Midnight sun, Lofoten

On Lofoten the weather can change suddenly from clear and blu sky with sunshine or the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) to violent storms with rain or snow. Maximum temperatures go from +30°C in June and July to -15°C in January and February; the average temperatures for these months are from +12°C to -3°C. The period with the minimum rainfall goes from April to June, while we may expect the maximum rainfall or snowfall between October and December.

Midnight sun: from 27 May to 17 July 
Polar night: from 6 December to 6 January

The Northern Lights can be seen over Lofoten from September to April.

Useful info about climate: Meteorologisk Institutt 


- Meteo Henningsvær

Guidebooks and maps

Lofoten Rock climbing, scrambling and hiking guidebook
Walks and Scrambles in Norway

"Lofoten Rock" by Chris Craggs and Thorbjorn Enevoid - Rockfax ed.
"Walks and scrambles in Norway" by Anthony Dyer, Ian H. Robertson and John Baddeley

External Links

Climbing info: Rockfax Lofoten Guidebook

Visit Norway

Tourist info:

- Lofoten Islands