ActivitiesAdventuresHikingNorway

Everything I Wish I Had Known Before Hiking Trolltunga

I’m going to start this post off by stating that I was the most unprepared person to ever step foot in the Hardangerfjord region of Norway. I did the exact opposite of everything that someone is supposed to do when they make the 23 kilometer hike of super rad awesomeness. I did no research beforehand, only found the iconic photo of “Troll’s Tongue” on Pinterest and expected it to be an easy two hour hike. Consequently, it ended up being a very rushed and dangerous journey that could have potentially ended with hypothermia or death.  Here I will elaborate on all the ways I went wrong, and how you can do it right- it really is worth it!

 

The incredible view from the top. I have never seen anything more beautiful.

The incredible view from the top. I have never seen anything more beautiful.

It is essential that you dress for the weather. At the start of the hike it may be sunny and warm, but we didn’t think about how much the climate would change after the initial 1.7 km. This bit is all straight up the face of a Fjord and an extreme change of elevation. When I set off on the trek I dressed in layers comfortable at ground level. It was warm but cloudy with scattered drizzles. Once we made it (basically walking up a melting glacier) it was sleeting, freezing, and we were not prepared for the conditions at all. Make sure you bring a backpack with extra layers, gloves, dry socks, and even a trash bag in case you need to keep your items dry. Hand warmers are a great idea in case you need a little boost of heat when the air is thinner and the temperature drops. It isn’t a bad idea to check and recheck the weather forecast for the whole area right before you set off.

Do not, under any circumstances, I repeat: DO NOT DO WHAT BRANDON DID.

Do not, under any circumstances, I repeat: DO NOT DO WHAT BRANDON DID.

Shoes will make or break your experience on this thrilling hike. You can’t enjoy the stunning 360 degree views when you’re worrying about whether or not your toes will freeze off if you make it to the ledge. One of the major mistakes I made was wearing rain boots for the hike. Of all my friends, I had the driest feet, but they felt like they were going to fall off after 30 minutes of climbing. DO NOT wear Nike Running Shoes for this hike, I speak from experience- it will not end well. Do your feet a huge favor and invest in some waterproof hiking boots and comfortable socks. Make sure you break them in far in advance for your journey so you don’t have to worry about pesky blisters.

One of the views along the way.

One of the views along the way.

Trolltunga is the most scenic hike I have ever been on, even in the sleet and rain I have never seen anything as beautiful. Although photographs will never do it justice, it is important that you bring a camera with a very large memory stick so you can fill it up with the picturesque scenery. Personally, I recommend getting a GoPro for all adventures because they are lightweight, waterproof, and take fantastic pictures. I ended up taking my DSLR and spent the majority of the hike trying to keep it dry. This resulted in very few photos. Of those, 60% had blurs on the lenses from rain drops. If only I had known that it takes almost no time to check the lenses, things would have turned out a little better. Be sure to take tons of photographs! No one ever regrets taking too many pictures of an indescribably beautiful place.

Taking a break during the extremely tiresome first 1.7 km of the hike. It looks like we came a long way, but there was still so far to go!

Taking a break during the extremely tiresome first 1.7 km of the hike. It looks like we came a long way, but there was still so far to go!

Don’t be a risk. If the conditions are dangerous, don’t be the stubborn American (or whatever your nationality may be) who goes despite the abundance of dangers. Before my hike, I was warned by the woman at the gift center that it was far too late to start, the weather conditions were too dangerous, and that we weren’t dressed comfortably. What did we do?We did it anyway. We wanted to prove a point that we could make it safely before sundown, and since it was the last day before we had to head back we stubbornly set off determined to prove her wrong. This was a terrible idea on many levels. We only ran into one other hiker, so if something bad had happened or someone made a misstep, there would have been no one there to help. If we got lost, we could have easily frozen to death. Bring lots of food and be prepared for an 8-10 hour hike. Get an early start so you have plenty of time to make it back without worrying about where you will have to find shelter for the night. If you are warned of dangers from the beginning, take the advice and do it another time.

When you get thirsty, it's perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to drink the water from the melting glaciers!

When you get thirsty, it’s perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to drink the water from the melting glaciers!

It is perfectly fine to pack an empty water bottle, this will help keep your backpack light. You can fill your water bottle up at any water source unless it is marked as unsafe. MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are an excellent thing to bring as food. They can be found at Military Surplus Stores in the US. They include a heating element that I credit to saving my fingers from hypothermia. As we finally made it to the ledge, my fingers were turning black and I had lost all feeling in them. With some fast thinking from one of my hiking buddies, we taped my hand in a bag with the heating element and it restored all feeling and color. If I had not had it, I am almost certain I wouldn’t have my fingers.

 

These last few tips probably seem like common sense, but common sense sometimes isn’t all that common. Unfortunately we made all these mistakes and it really made a difference in what the adventure could have entailed. Be sure to poop before you start the hike. Chances are: you forgot to bring TP, there isn’t much privacy along the trail, and your butt will be really cold exposed to the conditions. Do everyone a favor and go #2 in the bathrooms at the Travel Center. Also, MAKE SURE YOU TRAIN FOR THE HIKE. The first 1.7 km are very difficult. You will probably have to take several breaks since the air is thinner and zig-zagging up a Fjord is some wildly tough work. The best way to train for it is to spend a few days per week on a StairMaster for an hour until you are comfortable doing it. It takes at least 40 minutes to make it up the first 1.7 km of the Fjord, and the best way to describe it is pretty similar to climbing up thousands of stairs made from loose rocks. It may be a good idea to book a massage the day after, your body will thank you!

Even after making all those mistakes, I still had the most amazing time hiking Trolltunga. One day I hope to go back and do it right. When done correctly, Trolltunga will reward you with views of glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife, and nature that will exceed your wildest dreams. It truly is not a hike to miss, but don’t take my word for it, go be the adventure!


 

Do you have any travel advice or questions about Trolltunga? Don’t be afraid to leave any comments or questions in the comment box!

 

About Author

Addie

World traveler. Health nut. Adrenaline Addict. Pilot. Scuba Diver. Surfer. Lover. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”

37 Comments

  1. Lisa mcclain Reply

    AWESOMENESS!!! Keep it coming!! Can’t wait to read the next one!

  2. a usted el pensamiento abstracto
    zusetteSi

  3. Keep onn writing, great job!

  4. This is a topic that’s close to my heart… Take care!
    Exactly where are your contact details though?

  5. Richard Reply

    I was unprepaired. I did wear my working boots with steel noses. Stopped every km for a little drink and something to eat. I did up and down to troltunga in 7.7 hours.

  6. Local Hardanger trekker Reply

    Think you put some real good focus on safety for this trip. Locals living near Trolltunga all agree that there soon will be sombody whos not returning alive from this trip. We see lots of neglectful behaviour from tourists in the area. Late starts, bad weather, Wrong shoes and deficient clothing and equipment. Not to mention littering and people leaving their poop right beside The track….. (!) We all want you to come and visit this great place that we all love, but please take care and leave it clean for other trekkers and us Locals living here!! 🙂

    • Local Hardanger trekker Reply

      I think you do The right thing by evaluate The hike and share your experiences. It shows that ure not one of The “stupid americans” as you called them. 😉 I’ve seen so much worse examples of bad equipment and behaviour than yours on this trip I can assure you! Funniest so far was a couple of MC-drivers in full leather MC outfits including helmets. Any food or drinks? Noop! Hope you will be back and enjoy The trip Even more with your knowledge in hand when planning. 🙂

  7. Svein Myklebust Reply

    http://www.visittrolltunga.com/en/

    It’s a great website, what you need to know about Trolltunga.

  8. Local guy Reply

    Hi there!
    Good to hear that you enjoyed the trek, even if it didn’t go as planned! 🙂

    Here in Norway we follow some simple but very important rules when hiking in the mountains. I would recommend every person to follow these rules, they could save your life! They are as follows:

    1. Don’t go on long hikes without training.
    2. Inform someone of where your are going.
    3. Respect the weather and the weather forecasts.
    4. Be ewuipped for bad weather and the cold, even on short hikes. Bring a backpack and the equipment the mointain requires.
    5. Listen to experienced hikers.
    6. Use a map and a compass. (this is something everyone should learn!)
    7. Don’t go alone.
    8. Return in time, there’s no shame in turning back!
    9. Save your strenght, and make a snow cave if necessary. (If there is any snow, of course!)

    If you follow these simple rules, you can enjoy norwegian nature safely!
    And as you said: good footwear is everything! Use waterproof hiking shoes, and bring dry socks! (wool socks are the best!)

    • Local guy Reply

      Oh, and the snow cave part is in case you can’t turn back and need shelter in case of a storm. 🙂

    • Kjartan Reply

      Well, Local Guy, you must have been sleeping when they taught the guidelines 🙂
      1. Plan your trip and report to someone where you will be going
      2. Adapt your trip according to your ability and the conditions
      3. Be aware of, and adapt to, weather and avalanche forecasts
      4. Be prepared for bad weather and cold conditions even on short hikes
      5. Bring necessary equipment to be able to help yourself
      6. Make safe choices of paths to hike. Recognize areas with dangerous avalanche conditions and also unsafe ice on waters
      7. Always use a map and compass. Know where you are at any moment during the trip.
      8. Turn back in time. There is no shame in turning back without reaching your goal
      9. Save your strength and seek shelter if necessary.

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    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
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  12. lindsay Reply

    I am curious, when did you do this hike? was it this january? we are going end of may and am hoping the snow will be melted enough to make the hike.

    • Norwegian guy Reply

      At the end of may there will probably be a fair amount of snow left on the trail. But you might get some really nice weather. July early August is the best time.

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  14. Usman Reply

    Hi, I’m curious to know during which time of the year did you do the hike. Everyone keeps talking about cold weather. Is it going to be a problem in Late May? Please advice.

    • I actually did it in August and it was pretty chilly still! It was totally worth it though 😀

    • Simon Mortensen Reply

      Yo! Just thought i’d fill in on some info. You don’t need to buy the MRE’s in the US as you can buy them in normal grocery stores in Norway (we hike a lot lol) It’s called real turmat made by drytech, they’re actually the suppliers for a lot of the western military like NATO. Eurospar has them at least of the main big ones. -North-Norwegian viking B)

    • Allmost Local Reply

      May MIGHT be okay, but be aware that weather can change rapidly, there might be lots of snow stilll, and you might be surprised by cold, rain, fog and sleet.

      Best advice, talk to locals and listen carefully to their advice. The locals know the terrain, the weather and the conditions. If they warn you not to do the climb, then for Gods sake DON´T.

      Norwegians don´t scare easily, they are firmly attached to the ground. They don´t warn wisitors without a reason, and you can trust them to know the conditions a couple hundred times better than any wisitor.

      Listen to locals, respect the weatherforecasts, be properly equiped with food, clothes and hiking-boots, and be in good shape – this isn´t “a walk in the park”, and you´ll have a great time.

      Welcome!

  15. paszteciarz Reply

    Hello. I am going to visit Norway at the beginning of May, Is it possible to go on Trolltunga in May? In which month you were there?

  16. John G.R. Reply

    Hi-this was an interesting article and an honest article! I have not experienced Trolltungen, but other exciting trip areas in Norway, because I am Norwegian and appreciate Norwegian nature and mountains. When I was young, I experienced almost the same in Jotunheimen (Norway). I started too late in the day, too little food and good clothes. But I learned from my mistakes, and has had hundreds of great trips afterwards. A few years ago I was back in Jotunheimen. It was a fantastic good trip. Why? I had learned from my mistakes.

  17. sturledysvik Reply

    Read about Your hike to Trolltunga, seems like an adventure Your gonna remember for some time. I hope the Norwegian nature didnt scare you and i hope you come back, moore mountaintops to visit:) if you ever do, give us a Call:) promise better weather and some views most Norwegians take for granted.

  18. Roger Reply

    As a norwegian, reading this, I gotta ask; are you a Trump supporter?

  19. I’m researching this hike and really appreciate your article. It probably takes more guts to admit you weren’t prepared than to do the hike. You’re a lovely person.

  20. Interested traveler Reply

    What time of year did you hike Trolltunga? Did you hike any of the other famous hikes in Norway?

  21. Kasie Reply

    Hi! Just curious… I’m planning on hiking up Trolltunga sometime in July and I was wondering if you knew what the weather would be like then? When was it that you went?

  22. Pavel Reply

    Hi,
    I’ll be visiting the area in early June and I was wondering if it’s possible to access the trails without guides couple days before season officially starts, like June 11-12th or it’s completely prohibited?

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