Taking it to the Edge

Trolltunga (“Troll tongue”) is a rock formation situated about 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) above sea level in Ullensvang Municipality in Vestland county, Norway. The cliff juts horizontally out from the mountain, about 700 metres (2,300 ft) above the north side of the lake Ringedalsvatnet.

Popularity of the hike to Trolltunga and rock formation itself has exploded in recent years. The increased popularity has turned Trolltunga into a national icon and a major tourist attraction for the region. Until 2010, fewer than 800 people hiked to Trolltunga each year. In 2016 more than 80,000 people hiked[3] the 27-kilometre (17 mi) round-trip from the village of Skjeggedal, making it one of Norway’s most popular hikes.

This is a very challenging hike, at least 10 hours on rough terrain. There are no shelters on the hike route and no places to buy supplies. However, there is a plan to build a lodge roughly halfway where hikers can rest.

Access

Trolltunga is located 17 kilometres (11 mi) from the town of Odda. The city of Bergen, is about 190 kilometres (120 mi) from the site via main roads.

The trailhead is located by a small parking area with toilet facilities at Skjeggedal, about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) from Norwegian National Road 13 in Tyssedalen, near the dam at the end of Ringedalsvatnet. Parking costs 500 kr per day for the lower car park (approx. 62 USD or 52 EUR).

The hike from the parking area to Trolltunga and back again is a 27-kilometre (17 mi) round-trip distance with a 1,100-metre (3,600 ft) gain in elevation, and it takes approximately 10–12 hours, including breaks.

Near the parking area at Skjeggedal there is a funicular called Mågelibanen (it is not in operation). The trail to Trolltunga begins here, on the left side of the funicular. It is marked with red Ts painted in the terrain, and signs along the route that marks the distance left to Trolltunga and to the starting point at Skjeggedal.

For the first 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi), up to the Måglitopp, the trail rises about 450 metres (1,480 ft). From here the track surfaces slightly out before it gets steep again, rising another 330 metres (1,080 ft) up from Gryteskaret to Trombåskåret. This section is the steepest part on this hike. But in recent years this section have been improved by Nepalese sherpas, making it easier to traverse.

After this 4-kilometre (2.5 mi) steep climb from the parking area, the next section slopes down towards Store Floren. The trail continues over Hesteflåene and the dried out river Endåno, before it gets steeper up to Endanuten and crosses the dried river to Tyssestrengene. From here the trail goes on past glacial potholes, then continues past Tysshøl, and finally approaches Trolltunga, about 13.5 kilometres (8.4 mi) from the starting point at Skjeggedal.

Safety

Thousands of tourists visit Trolltunga during the four summer months, a number which has greatly increased from 500 per year to 80,000 between 2009 and 2016. No safety railing has been constructed on the edge of the cliff so as not to harm the natural beauty of the cliff, although a few small metal hooks have been installed as footholds to climb down to the rock.

On 5 September 2015, a 24-year-old Australian woman fell to her death off Trolltunga. It is believed to be the first recorded death from a fall there.

There are widely publicised photos of people hanging off the cliff or doing a hand stand on it. Most often they are manipulated. The elite climber Magnus Midtbø suspended himself from Trolltunga wearing a safety harness, but a version where the rope was erased has been spread in media.

The approach to and retreat from Trolltunga is a demanding hike, and 10–12 hours are needed for the round trip. In later years there have been up to 40 rescue actions annually. Surprisingly not because of the dangerous cliff, but due to the demanding hike back to Tyssedal. People get lost in fog or get injured during the hike or don’t have the endurance for such a demanding hike.

It is planned to build a lodge halfway between Trolltunga and Tyssedal, which will provide accommodation for hikers en route from Trolltunga.

Personally I wouldn’t go anywhere near that ledge.

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