On Wednesday, August 27th I had the incredible experience of hiking Kjerag in the Norwegian fjordlands.
I woke up to the tent vibrating due to the shivering of Roy, the unprepared Chinese student who I had met in the ferry terminal the night before. I told him to go walk around town, warm up, and that I would meet him at the bus. This served a dual purpose as it meant I got to nod off for a few more minutes as well as not have him staring over my back as I broke camp.
After I had everything packed up, I headed over to the ferry terminal where I enjoyed a few minutes of wifi before going out and speaking with our bus driver. Between what I had read about Kjerag and the knowledge of my capabilities with my pack from Iceland had lead me to believe that I would only be able to complete the hike if I was able to leave behind my main pack in the bus. Thankfully, the bus driver agreed to this so I happily jumped on and we were on our way!
The bus ride was positively gorgeous. We came out of Stavanger, through the suburbs, and then climbed up into the fjordlands that were filled with summer cottages and ski resorts. The bus made a quick stop at a cheese factory turned candle factory for a little sight seeing and shameless tourist plug. We stopped again a second time as we came up over one of the mountains. The sight from the top was pretty spectacular; seeing the ridges of the fjords and the stone monuments people had built to ‘become a part of the mountain.’
We arrived at Kjerag at about 1030am and I immediately set out. There were more people doing the hike than I had thought there would be and soon a line formed as we all made our way up the first ascent. I quickly began finding ways to ascend more quickly and my paths soon crossed with Brett, a tatted oil and gas industry entrepreneur, who helped me fix my GoPro and blaised some faster climbing routes that kept us out from behind the other hikers.
The hike was intense. Looking back, it would have been possible with my full pack but I wouldnt have enjoyed it and rhe time frame for our day tour would have stressed me out majorly.
The hike is made up of three major ascents; the first and second being steep routes up two smaller mountains and the third being a more gradual climb up Kjerag. The ascents definitely left me huffing and puffing at the top but the views and sheer joy I got from the physical challenge made it entirely worth it.
Now, the two main reasons why people hike Kjerag is to basejump (the Lyseford fjord is world renowned for its basejumping) and Kjeragbolten, which is a massive boulder sandwiched 3,000ft in the air between two cliffsides on Kjerag. I was there for the rock. I will come back for the basejumping.
To get to Kjeragbolten, you climb down into this ravine and climb over and around these massive boulders that demand your full attention until… BAM!… the ravine drops into nothingness and in front of you is Kjeragbolten. It was such a thrill just to look at the damn thing I couldn’t imagine what it was going to be like to stand. The entire hike up I had been trying to distract my mind from the entire idea of walking out onto Kjeragbolten because, to be completely honest, I was shaken by the idea.
I have done a lot of things that people call me crazy for and a lot of these things have dealt with heights. But all of those things I had professionals and harnesses and gear to make sure I was okay. Kjeragbolten had none of that. This isnt one of those optical illusions of a rock suspended in the air. No, boulder is legitimately just hanging 1000 meters off the ground and there isn’t one rope, rail, net, or harness there to stop you from plummeting for 25 seconds of free fall to your doom. And even if there were such a thing as Kjeragbolten professionals, what are they going to do? Catch you? Na, man. If you’re gonna have a dance with Kjeragbolten, its gonna be just you and the rock.
And dance with Kjeragbolten I did. It took me a good 15 minutes of exploring the rest of the area before I took my shot at it and I was shaking from head to toe when I did. It was a rush unlike anything I have ever done. I was terrified. In the pictures I may look like I am smiling but in reality I am to the point where my fear has become humorous to me.
After I scrambled off the Kjeragbolten like a madman (I think I spent about 15 seconds out on the rock and it felt like an eternity), Brett and I had a mini photo shoot along the edge of the cliff. After the terror of Kjeragbolten it was nothing to be sitting down with my legs swinging over the edge. Ziggy even got in on the action!
I ate some lunch and then headed back down the mountain with Brett. He was a really cool guy who had an insanely awesome life story so we stuck together as we both skipped, dipped, and hopped to deal with the downhills. It was coming back that I was now happy for the various poles and ropes along the route I had shunned on the way up. At some points it was easier to just go ass first and use the ropes to repel down. All in all we spent about 4 hours along the route that we had been given 6 hours to do so we joined up with Bretts cofounder, enjoyed some ice cream, watched parachuters go off the cliffs, and talked to the international staff of the cafe.
When we got back to Stavanger around 730, my two new Canadian oil buddies invited me out for some beers. I happily accepted and I returned to the same harbor that just the night before had left me feeling super intimidated and enjoyed some drinks with some even better people. But after the simplified diet I had adopted and the day of physical activity I was soon buzzing much harder than I had excepted to. Thankfully they were too so we headed over to Burger King (I know, but who doesn’t like a greasy burger when you’re riding the booze wagon) where once again they treated me. Seriously, you can call it whatever you want, but so far the people on this trip have been notjing but incredible to me.
Unfortunately by that time we found ourselves in the thick of the crowd that had gathered for the free concert that was happening that night. Normally I would’ve been stoked for this sort of thing but the band, Ylvis, that was playing is responsible for this atrocity and therefore I was hoping to avoid it if at all possible.
Whether due to our level of intoxication or the massive crowd we were trying to get through, I eventually lost Brett and his friend. With no way to connect I did what I could to escape the worst part of the crowd and enjoyed my greasy cheesburger as Ylvis echoed through the streets.
That night I slept like an absolute rock in thr same park I had camped in the night before. I can also check tipsy tent setup off of my bucket list.
All my love.