BERGEN TO KJERAG
24.08.2012 - 26.08.2012 18 °C
We followed a slightly different route south than we had followed when heading north, and though the theme was the same – epic wilderness, with a smattering of the most picturesque houses you can imagine – it was definitely different the further south we went. The lush forests disappeared, and in their place were shear cliffs, with massive boulders at their base that were no doubt once part of the cliff-face, but had been cleaved off during some past seismic activity. Dotted around the boulders were the unmistakable fluffy white coats of the hundreds of sheep, seemingly roaming free amongst the landscape - they rule the road in these parts, but are very curious and friendly locals who have no problem coming up close to say “hi” and to eat the grass off your tyres.
The scenery getting more moonlike
We spent the night at a rest stop surrounded by our new fluffy friends, then headed down to the starting point at Oygardstol for the hike the next morning. Oygardstol is already half way up, with the fjord-end township of Lysebotn down a very steep and winding road beneath you, and the cliffs of Kjerag a very steep and challenging 2.5hrs ahead of you.
The first leg of the hike takes you up a rounded cliff, either under the steam of your own balance and leg power, or with the assistance of the pre-placed chain, and pretty much saps up a fair chunk of your energy by the time you get to the top and start down the other side. You get to do a bit of free-abseiling (or slipping and sliding, whichever you prefer) and a small flat walk before you start up cliff #2, even higher than the first. By now your rock-climbing skills (or lack of) have become apparent, and your quads and calves are screaming, but you reach the top again and have a rest going down, all the while staring up at cliff #3 and thinking “how the crap am I gonna get up this one”. You gather up the remainder of your strength and trudge up, in single file along with your fellow hikers, trying desperately not to think of the return trip….
The second hill
Some basic rock-falling...oops, I mean climbing
At the top, the sharp hill gradually subsides and becomes a sloped, rounded, rocky landscape that still works the leg and feet muscles, before it flattens and you’ve come to the halfway point of the hike – you are suddenly king of the world, on top of the cliffs of Kjerag, with Lysefjord snaking through almost 1,000m below you.
Mercifully flattening out
But we were pretty high up buy this point
I think Paul found the urge to jump, or at least get as close to the edge as one can without falling off, overwhelming – I was quite happy to watch him, breath held, then venture as close as I would dare.
If you ever do this, head down over to the right and soak it all up… the view is phenomenal and it’s quieter than the Kjeragbolten, which is the main attraction and reason most people go on the hike.
The Kjeragbolten (or, Kjerag Bolt) is a boulder that managed to get itself wedged into a crack in the mountain with a 900m drop below. Many moons ago someone came across it and decided it would be a good idea to jump over onto this boulder and skylark around with only the laws of gravity keeping them safe, and hence started a hikers tradition. They say you need nerves of steel, but from the front it doesn’t look so bad. Paul managed to get himself onto it for some happy snaps, even he said it was much worse than it looked.
I chose not to take part because… uh, the line was too long… yeah, I’ll go with that.
Next to the bolt is a large rocky area, perfect for the tired masses to relax and have some lunch.
Couldn't wipe the smiles off if we tried
Once we had our fill of dizzying heights, we headed back before the hoards of other hikers did to avoid traffic, scrambling our way back up and down the cliffs and boulders we’d already been past once before to make it back to Oygardstol in good time, again exhausted but feeling somewhat victorious.
Heading back down to the oil painting of a town below
We spent that night at the campsite down in Lysebotn, as hot showers, power and chocolate were in order. We had a great view of a waterfall and mist rolling in over the cliffs, bringing some slight rain with it. It was beautiful and serene. Our wonderful day was topped off when, as it started to get dark, we heard a loud “pop” noise in the distance, and a few minutes later saw a guy and his parachute land in the campground not 100m from us. Paul was stoaked, he put the timing of the sound and his landing together and decided he had BASE’d off one of the cliffs above us. I’m sure he dreamt about jumping off all kinds of things that night! While we contemplated a possible future with Paul attempting to become a fully-fledged BASE jumper, we booked our ferry to Denmark for the day after next, and slept like logs that night.