Besseggen Part II — Norway’s Most Infamous Hike
Benjamin Antoni Andersen
| January 17, 2019
Besseggen was a long anticipated hike for me. In Norway it is kind of infamous. People die there, people bleed there, people leave their hearts there as victims to the beautiful views.
The hike is about 8 hours if you take your time and have a chill lunch along the way like we did. So rule number one is: Bring good company. Something which we most definitely did.
Joel from Switzerland, always talking about how much bigger the Swiss mountains are (?), Tonje from Norway, being the one who guided us into the mountains, and Christian from Paraguay/Norway, who introduced us to the art of drinking tereré – tereré being the reason why he carries that humongous thermos of ice cold water in his hand.
“Eggen” means the edge, or ridge, and “Bess” is just a name. I tried researching the origins, but I couldn’t come up with anything, so please fill me in if you can.
The hike starts with you taking a boat all the way in across Gjende Lake, and there you start your hike with a brutally steep ascent.
Already trekking up that steep path you might wonder whether you can make it, but that only lasts until you reach the top, are properly warmed up, and can head along the mountainsides towards Besseggen itself.
Second part of the hike is mostly flat, and on your left, you will have Besshøe, a mountain of rubble that rises above all else.
The actual ridge that gives the place its name is actually closer to the end of the hike. But that is in no way the only enjoyable part. All along the hike you walk at the edge of the mountains, looking into Gjende Lake on your left, seeing the boat shuttling adventurers back and forth.
And then finally Knutshøe reveals itself to you.
From pictures I’ve been shown, I always thought Knutshøe was Besseggen, because people always photograph it. And it is a ridiculously photogenic mountain.
Yeah. Do that. Make sure you don’t stress through the trip. Breathe, enjoy every view.
Bring a camera.
The higher up you climb, the further into Jotunheimen National park you see. More and more snow capped peaks. More and more of those Sydney-opera-housey mountain folds are revealed.
Jotunheimen means the home of the or giants (or trolls), enemies of the gods of old norse mythology. For you Scandinavians out there who has at least a minor interest in languages: The word jotun, which no one uses anymore, is another form of the Swedish jätte.
And looking out towards these Norwegian national parks, which there are plenty of, you start realizing how large it all is. Trips like this is such a reset from the busy city life. You get to feel downsized for just a moment. Looking in there, you realize you could walk for days without stumbling upon civilization.
Trolls could exist guys!
But we are not heading there. We are on our way back to the comfort of our tiny little car that is dwarfed by the surroundings.
I have to be honest. The ridge is no more exciting than the rest of the trip. It is heavier, and it brings you to higher altitudes – that’s about it. Can you see the amount of people trotting upwards?
So what am I to say? Let’s get up there.
I love getting high. Don’t think weed – think real high!
There’s an older Norwegian song that says, among other things, “If you wanna get high — welcome to the mountains.”
Let’s not lie. Weed gets you low, not high. Why else would you talk like this.
Did I get you to read those three words ultra slow and slurred? Well, I tried.
No, if you want a real high, you gotta get to the mountains. And as we are talking about weed: Tereré is not weed. It’s herbs, but no weed. A bunch of lovely, delicious and healthy herbs mixed together. And then you drink it out of a golden or silver straw, often encrusted with gems – still, believe it or no, it ain’t no drug.
Once you come over the top, a vast expanse of rock rubble stretch before you. It should be the most boring part of the hike, hadn’t it been for meeting something very special – the reindeer.
They are not wild though. Someone owns them and farms them, but they live out here in the mountains, and you may stumble upon them as you hike. Something we enjoyed a whole lot.
From here the descent is steep, and brutal for our legs. You know how it is always harder to go down than up. Well, when you have walked for 7,5 hours already, and the last half hour is straight down, you feel it a little extra.
As we hike down, the landscape tells us goodbye as we look one last time in towards the hidden inner end of Gjende lake.
Will I go back?
All the pictures from this story, plus many more will be gathered under #rhfhikesbesseggen on Instagram.
Also, all our Adventure Story pictures are found under the hashtag #rhfadventurestories.
And, last but not least. A bunch of these pictures are available for free on our Unsplash account, so go grab something.