What to expect when hiking to Kjeragbolten

It seems as though Kjeragbolten may be competing with Trolltunga to win a popularity contest amongst the adventure tourists. Both Norwegian hikes are breathtaking (literally) and challenging endeavors that hikers must be properly prepared for. Before doing these hikes, we asked around seeing which hike was more ‘difficult’… we got differing answers, and for good reason.

Trolltunga Vs. Kjeragbolten

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The Troll’s Tongue (Trolltunga)

Trolltunga is about a 13.5 mile hike that will exhaust you for about 10-12 hours. The views are absolutely amazing, but it is definitely an endurance hike, with many inclines throughout. If you haven’t read my advice on how to be properly prepared for this endurance hike, go here. Because you don’t want to need a helicopter to rescue you… thats just embarrassing.

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There she be. Kjeragbolten.

On the other hand, Kjeragbolten is 7.5 miles and takes your average person 6-8 hours to complete. Although seemingly shorter, the hike to Kjerag includes three very large and steep inclines, some with chains to assist you at the steepest parts (and there are many steep parts). There are even steep places without chains, and at those points you have to use basic rock climbing skills to scale upwards.

I went with my sister and her boyfriend. When you ask us three which was more difficult, I say Trolltunga because I’m not an endurance hiker. I like technical stuff. I would rather scramble up rocks like a mountain goat and put all my trust in a small metal chain holding me up on a side of a windy mountain… and that makes Kjeragbolten my favorite hike I have ever done. My sister, on the other hand, found Trolltunga easier because the technicality and the heights we had to deal with at Kjeragbolten literally at some points paralyzed her with fear.

So it all depends on who you ask.

So, what should you expect on this hike?

The first incline…

Immediately after leaving the parking lot, you’ll reach the beginning of the hike and the very first incline. You’ll reach your first set of chains, and start getting your technique down on how to power up the sides of these mountains. The first incline is the second hardest of the three inclines, so you’ll feel pretty accomplished (and pretty exhausted) when you reach the top.

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This is what you’ll see the minute you leave the parking lot. You’re gonna climb that.
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The chains that save your life.
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Its hard to capture the steepness in a photo…but here is an attempt.
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The parking lot will get smaller and smaller.

Going down the other side of that first incline also has assist chains, because it is also steep going down.

You’ll reach a small valley of FLAT GROUND (you’ll rejoice every time you see flat ground), but this moment of rest doesn’t last very long.

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The valley of precious flat ground.
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And of course the valley is beautiful too.
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Walking towards the second incline.

The second incline…

Considered the ‘easiest’ of the inclines, but is also the steepest, you’ll find yourself scaling some steep steps, scrambling rocks, and clinging to some chains to get to the top.

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Always follow those red T’s
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This little safety house was in the middle of the second incline
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Some more views along the way
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Aaaaaand the parking lot continues to get smaller

The third (monstrous) incline…

This one is the doozy. But by this point you only have one more incline to do, so you really can’t turn around. Might as well power up another mountain. This last incline is the longest and the tallest of the inclines. We were halfway up it and I couldn’t believe we had more to climb. Chains are here to assist you at some points, but there were also points that we felt like needed chains, but didn’t have any. The best thing to do if you are feeling unstable is to bend and stabilize yourself with your hands, don’t try to walk up this one completely straight.

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At the foot of the third incline

Once you are at the top of this monster, give yourself a high five because you are almost (kind of) there. Just a little over a mile left. This part of the hike is relatively ‘flat’ with small inclines here and there. The landscape is very unique and I felt like we were on a different planet.

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Clearly a different planet.
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Trail signs to help other hikers.

You’ll approach an area that requires you to scramble down rocks into a ravine filled with more rocks. Follow the red ‘T’s painted on rocks and cliffsides and you’ll finally see Kjeragbolten in the distance.

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Some scrambling… and a slight traffic jam between the large group leaving and our little group showing up.
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More rocks.
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You can see it in the distance!

You can either get your photo in front of the boulder.

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My sister and her boyfriend, Derk, in front of Kjeragbolten.

Or climb out on top of it!

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Yaaaay!

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Climbing out on top of the boulder is scarier than actually standing on it. There is nothing really to hold onto when stepping onto the rock or getting off of the rock, but go slow and if you’re lucky you’ll have some new friends standing by, ready to grab your hand to help you get down (I made many friends that day from the Philippines and they were all very helpful).

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This is the view from behind the rock where people can climb on and off of it.

Enjoy some time around Kjeragbolten. The views are amazing.

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When you have fully soaked up everything (and eaten some snacks, of course) get ready for the climb down. For people who are afraid of heights, the climb down is much worse. My sister had a much harder time coming back down than she did on her way up. But she was a trooper and still says “I can’t believe we did that” every time we talk about our hike.

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Pure bliss after reaching Kjeragbolten

Kjeragbolten is currently my favorite hike I have ever done. We will see if any other hike can bump it out of first place (but with my trips to Nepal, Costa Rica and New Zealand coming up… it may have some competition).

Happy travels, everyone πŸ™‚

 

 

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