22 Mag A guide to hiking Trolltunga, Norway
by Weichien Chan from Malaysia
Trolltunga, the view from our parking spot in Odda by Weichien Chan
What on Earth is Trolltunga?
Trolltunga, the Norwegian word for Troll’s Tongue, is simply a rock formed during the Ice Age. It is neatly tucked in the Norwegian wilderness some 2,000 feet above lake Ringedalsvatnet and resembles a cheeky troll sticking its tongue out to the world.
This way to Trolltunga by Weichien Chan
Why is it so famous?
Trolltunga owes its notoriety to the fact that it reminds people of the ledge from Pocahontas and the classic scene from Lion King. No matter what the reason, everyone seems to want a piece of it. It is a fairy tale, except that this fairy tale is real.
Who can hike Trolltunga?
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be a mountaineer to complete this hike. While the skills of an alpinist are not essential, you should, at the very least, have some experience hiking. An average millennial who is fit, loves outdoors and does not have major health issues will be able to do this hike without great difficulties. If a five feet tall girl who weighs a hundred pounds can pull this off, so can you!
How do you get to the trail head?
Bergen airport in Flesland is the closest international airport. If you do not reside in Norway, flying into Bergen would probably be the most viable solution. If you are anywhere in Norway, you could drive or take a train. The train ride from Oslo to Bergen is pretty scenic, I’ve heard. From Bergen, you will have to either drive or take a bus to Skjeggedal, which is where the trail head is located.
Trolltunga, unpacking and repacking at the spot we put up for two nights by Weichien Chan
How long does it take?
The hike, including ascend and descend, is 22 kilometers. Traditionally, a funicular would bring people past the first two kilometers, which is the most demanding part, in my humble opinion. Those who opted out would, thus, have do the hike in a couple of days. They would spend the first day ascending, then catch some shuteye at the peak in their tents, and descend the next day. However, since the funicular broke down some years ago, people like me who do not have time to spare would start out at dawn and complete the roundtrip in 9 to 10 hours.
Trolltunga, trail markers to keep hikers who have zilch direction sense like me on track, literally by Weichien Chan
When is the best time to go?
July through September are ideal months. I chose mid September and could not have asked for better weather. It was sunny and averaging between 12 – 18 degrees during the day. There was still some snow but not enough to hinder any hiking. It is, however, possible to hike it in March with a guide.
Trolltunga, easier part of the trail by Weichien Chan
What do you need to complete this hike?
All you really need is:
- A pair of sturdy hiking boots
- A windbreaker
- Some extra socks in case your feet get wet in the snow
- A bottle of water (Free refills on the way, courtesy of glaciers)
- A camera
Trolltunga, norwegian cabins for people who used to do multi-day hikes by Weichien Chan
What if I am a solo traveller without a car or a driving license?
Trust me when I say I’ve been in those shoes. I was travelling alone, couldn’t and still can’t drive to save my life and did not have access to a functioning vehicle.
When I was at wit’s end, Couchsurfing came to my rescue. I found two Australian girls who were interested in hiking Trolltunga the same time as I was. I contacted them, met at the airport for the first time, spent two nights in a rental with them and hiked to the Troll’s tongue together. This experience went down in the books as one of the times where the journey mattered as much as the mission.