The Giants on norway’s roof

It was the Norwegian poet, Aasmund Olavsson Vinje, who gave these mountains their name, the Jøtunheimen, in 1862, inspired by the wild land­ scape and Norse mythology. The Giants or Trolls (Jotnane) have their home here. Jøtunheimen later became Jotunheimen, the name still used today for this area, which has the highest mountains in northern Europe. The Jotunheimen has many glaciers, U­shaped valleys excavated by them and deposits which they leave when they advance and retreat in pace with changes in climate. The national park also has a high diversity of plant and animal life, including large predators and birds of prey.

Outdoor recreation

Ever since the 19th century, the Jotunheimen has been one of most popular areas in the country for hiking and mountain climbing. Some 300 km of footpaths in Jotunheimen and the adjacent valley of Utladalen are now marked with painted T’s that offer walkers a variety of safe hikes over various distances. In winter, a number of ski tracks are marked with stakes. Many peaks are also desirable goals, but you need climbing gear to reach the very summit of quite a few of them. On the outskirts and inside the national park there are a number of unstaffed huts and staffed lodges where hikers and skiers can spend the night. Even though people flock to the area at some times of the year, it is still possible to experience the freedom, mysticism, peace and solitude of the area. The second half of the summer is the peak season for hikers.

The Hurrungane mountains, furthest west in the national park, with both easy and more demanding routes, are a Mekka for climbers. Scaling Store Skagastølstind is hard­ going, long and difficult, and calls for both ropes and other equipment. Remember that crevasses may make walking on glaciers hazardous, and ropes and other safety equipment must always be used. It is also necessary to know how to move around safely on a glacier. Guides can be hired, and several companies and the Norwegian Trekking Association offer organised hikes in the national park, leisurely skiing and walking trips and more demanding glacier treks and mountain ascents. More information on these can be obtained from the Association lodges and local tourist information offices. Several lakes and rivers in Jotunheimen, especially the larger lakes, offer good trout fishing, and there is also fish farming in some of them. Hunting and fishing licenses must be purchased if you wish to hunt or fish in the national park.


High peaks and large lakes

Jotunheimen, astride the boundary between the counties of Oppland and Sogn & Fjordane, is a largely pristine area of majestic mountains and glaciers. The hard, resi­ lient bedrock formed under high pressure deep in the Earth’s crust and has later been exhumed by tectonic movements and weathering. Jotunheimen includes the highest mountains in Norway. Galdhøpiggen reaches 2469 m a. s.l., while Glittertind’s ice­covered summit is only a few metres lower. The wildest and sharpest peaks in Jotunheimen are in the Hurrungane range, where Store Skagastølstind (2403 m a. s.l.), the third highest summit in Norway, reigns supreme. The largest glacier is Smørstabbreen, covering some 15 km2. Geologists and climatologists are among those who study the movements of the glaciers with great interest. The national park has several large lakes, the largest being Gjende. In late summer, great volumes of glacial water replete with rock flour pour into Gjende, colouring the water emerald green. Close by, and 200 m higher, is the deep­blue Bessvatn, and between these two lakes a marked path takes hikers along the narrow Besseggen ridge, one of the most famous attractions in the Norwegian mountains. It was here, or perhaps along the Knutshø ridge on the other side of Gjende, that Peer Gynt undertook his treacherous ride down the “Gjendin ridge” on the back of a reindeer stag.

Text from The Norwegian Environment Agency

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