A few years ago a man called Robin Boustead had a vision: to create a trail spanning the length of the entire Himalaya, from Bhutan in the east right through to Afghanistan in the west. Though there are some obvious practical and security issues with this, a route is roughly in place from Bhutan to Pakistan. The Great Himalaya Trail is out there and has challenged quite a few experienced hikers and mountaineers during its lifespan. Brave and bold as we like to be we decided to put it on the agenda, though not without a sound portion of shaky knees just from the thought of it.
Being the last outpost before the North Pole, the backcountry of Svalbard is one that truly deserves to be called wilderness. On these desolate islands approximately 2500 people share the land with more than 3000 polar bears. The geography is striking: pointy mountains rising out of the sea, broad valleys crosscut by glacial rivers, ridgelines as sharp as the edge of a knife. 60% percent of the land is covered with ice.
Outside of the main settlements (and even inside of the smaller ones) carrying a rifle and a signal pistol are basic safety requirements. It’s a land of hunters and trappers, where sound instincts and a good intuition are necessary for survival, where us humans are not always on top of the food chain. I had seen Svalbard once before in summertime so a return to the islands while completely covered in a white, fluffy blanket was long overdue.
The best way to appreciate the Norwegian scenery is undoubtedly, from above. My favourite means of travel is thus on foot, as unlike in other mountain areas such as the Alps, there is very little infrastructure in place to reach the tops. Besides of a few viewpoints along mountain roads you need to walk if you want to make it to the peak. This means you’ll have to work if you want to get the view, which in return makes the view all the more rewarding.
PJ and I had planned to leave Kiruna after the first week of April, after which we would take the road through Norway to Oslo over the course of a week. However, due to unforeseen circumstances we had to leave earlier, as our situation at work was no longer sustainable and we decided to leave. Rather than feeling down about it all we wanted to turn something low into a new high and headed for Norway anyway, only with 10 days of extra time on our hands. So instead of heading straight south we headed north first, to the Lyngen Alps that stand high above Norway’s Arctic territories. This particularly spectacular place had bombed itself right on top of my to do list in Norway during the past few months, and now we had a fantastic weather window that we simply had to grab.
Besseggen is one of the most famous day walks in all of Norway. It is situated on the edge of Jotunheimen national park, one of the prime alpine areas in the country. The walk is surrounded by a sort of national nostalgia and most Norwegians will probably walk it (or at least attempt to) once in a lifetime. Since it’s only a 3 hour drive from here it was an almost obligatory activity this summer. For our third training weekend we teamed up with Pj’s parents and hit the road into the mountains. Continue reading “Besseggen”