At 8110 feet or 2469 metres Galdhopiggen is the highest mountain in Norway. The mountain is situated at the north western edge of the Jotunheim National Park – itself a popular hiking area – which has relative ease of access from both the east and West of the country. As a major glaciated peak, Galdhopiggen has several technical climbing routes to its summit as one would expect, but there are 2 hiking routes by which the walker may reach the top of Northern Europe without undue difficulty. It is those that we are concerned with here.
The most popular walkers’ route begins at the hut of Juvasshytter which also offers food and accommodation. Guides based here take 1 or 2 parties a day to the summit through the summer season – weather permitting – and the cost of the trip is low compared to comparable ones in the Alps. There is no difficulty but the route crosses the Styggebreen Glacier where there is a crevasse risk so you rope up for safety.
From the hut the way heads across some bleak looking boulder fields – which are often snow covered – towards the triangular peak of Galdhopiggen which rises south west of Juvasshytter. The path steepens to reach the glacier where the route across is usually marked by flags. Do go with a guide though unless you are in a group with glacier experience and equipment – the way across is easy but could be dangerous for the unroped walker!
After the Styggebreen has been successfully negotiated a ridge of easy angled rock and snow leads up past a second, smaller glacier called the Piggbreen to the final snow slope leading up to the highest ground in Norway. The summit of Galdhopiggen is marked by an unmanned hut and a view indicator which gives you the details on the simply awesome view which stretches for over 100 miles in every direction.
The route takes roughly 3 hours up and 2 down with Juvasshytter being reached via a rather exiting dirt track road signposted from near the village of Boverdal in the valley below. There is a small toll to drive up this road. Juvasshytter itself is about 1800 meters or 5900 feet above sea level and is home to the Galdhopiggen Sommerskisenter or summer ski center. When I was there none other than the Norwegian National team were there for a practice – it’s one of the few places in southern and central Norway with good snow throughout the summer.
For those hikers who would really rather not get involved with glaciers and the like, there is a route from the eastern side of the mountain to Galdhopiggen’s summit though it’s a route I’ve not personally done since I went up from Juvasshytter.
If you head north east out of Boverdal towards Lom, after about 4 km there is another toll road which leads from Roisheim off up the valley to the South to reach another hut called Spiterstulen. A footpath climbs the eastern side of Galdhopiggen from here. The route is steeper especially in its lower reaches – the start point being much lower – and takes roughly 4 hours up and 2 down. This route follows the East Ridge in its final section over the subsidiary tops of Svelnose and Keilhaus Topp. You will still encounter snow but the glacier is avoided.
Travel writer Pete Buckley runs the walking and hiking site easywayup.com where there is further information on mountain walks in many regions including a short section on Norway’s Jotunheim area