Growing up in Denmark, we always travelled to Norway to get our mountain fix. Denmark is flat as a pancake with the highest point being around 170 meters above sea-level, no mountains and much of the countryside is cultivated, on some degree. But only a ferry crossing away the mountains of Norway are towering up from the North Atlantic sea and adventure awaits.
Words and Photography by Jakob Gjerluff Ager | @gjerluff
Norway has it all: deep fjords, rugged mountain peaks, glaciers and deep forests. It stretches from the mild regions in the south all the way up above the Arctic Circle where the sun doesn’t set in summer and polar bears roam the vast landscapes. You could spend a lifetime exploring all the different valleys and islands and never get tired of it.
After high school I moved to Norway permanently for 5 years, working in the mountains as a ski and raft instructor. That was some of the most exciting and nurturing years of my life. Being in nature and introducing other people to the outdoors is an amazing thing.
This summer we travelled to the south-western part of Norway, known for its beautiful fjords and gigantic mountains shooting up from the oceans. This is where you find classic geographical features admired by thousands of tourist every year such as the Pulpit Rock and the Troll Tongue. After spending a week in a little cabin on a cliffside near the city of Stavanger we ventured further north across a few mountains passes into the village of Sogndal, known for being saturated with outdoor people enjoying the great possibilities for ski-touring, mountain biking, glacier-hiking and alpinism.
The opportunity to visit a glacier and get inside an ice-cave has always been a dream of mine. We have a friend that recently moved to Sogndal and who is a certified glacier-guide, so the odds were good.
We were treated to stunning weather for the whole trip. Hot days made it perfect for long hikes in the alpine. Now and then we would find a small creek for a quick chilling dip and refilling of water bottles. For those light day trips our Smith the Roll Top is perfect. It accommodates a water bottle, lunch pack, a map, a light jacket and camera: everything you need, packed in a beautiful and simple design that is functional and light. As a photographer, I can really appreciate not only the functionality of design but also the aesthetics.
On the last day we finally had a chance to get on the famous “Jostedals” glacier. We chose to approach it from “Leirdalen”, which is a small valley with only a few families running some small farms. From here we crossed the glacier-lake “Tunsbergvatnet” in a rib-boat and finally arrived at the beautiful alpine meadows in front of the glacier. The lake supplies electricity to Sogndal and nearby villages from a generator at the dam by the end of the lake.
Walking on the glacier was anything we could ever have dreamed of. It was so exciting putting on the crampons and walking with the ice-axe along the deep crevasses. As we got further up on the glacier we could see the towers of the glaciers which appears when it changes direction through the valley. It was such a surreal landscape like a river running slowly between the mountains. Looking into the belly of the glacier through the deep wells, the meltwater had created, you could see the solid ice and the most intense blue I have only seen alike on the open ocean. The ice in itself is not actually blue, but it's the way the ice filters the lights like a prism that makes the colour. On the hike back from the glacier it started raining for the first time in the two weeks we were there – disclaimer, this is very lucky.
All in all, Norway showed us a great time once again, and as we left with the ferry a day later it was more a “see-you-soon” feeling than anything else.