July 12, 2013
Taking advantage of a clear and warm day (highs in the 70s) we headed over to Spiterstulen to hike the steep 5.6k/3.5mile trail to Galdhopiggen, the highest peak in Northern Europe. At 2469m/8100ft it’s no nose bleed, but still, the 1400m/4600ft climb is rocky and strenuous. (Note that there is another popular trail to the peak from Juvasshytta that requires a guided crossing of the Styggebreen glacier.)
In mid July there were still numerous snowy patches on the slopes which the Norwegians seem to prefer to the rocks, especially on the downhill where they do a sort of “shoe ski” down the slopes – a blast if you can stay upright.
I don’t think I have ever fallen more times on any single trail. Most reports claim 4 hours up and two hours down. That may be true if you can shoe ski, but if you fall as often as I do, plan on adding another hour or so.
Overall this was not one of my favorite hikes. I’m not a fan of climbing on rocks or trying to go up snowy inclines without trekking poles. However, watching the train of Norwegians making the summer pilgrimage up this peak was a great cultural experience.
The treeless landscape is quite photogenic with awesome views from the top.
The trail is not always clearly marked and is often under snow, however, with a treeless landscape and so many people to follow it would be difficult to get lost.
While a challenge, the hike is not technically difficult. That said, we watched one teenager running down a snowy incline near the peak. In an instant he lost control and took a nose dive into the rocks requiring a helicopter rescue.