Superb walk to Trollsteinen

Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
Trip End Jul 07, 2006

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Saturday, July 1, 2006

Next up on my busy schedule was a 6-7 hour walk to the summit of Trollsteinen (850m), this time as part of a group of eight people. However, eight soon became six when an American lady really struggled with the opening steep hike and consequently turned back, accompanied by her Norwegian friend. Our guide, Sofia, warned them that this was just the beginning and it would become much more difficult later on. In hindsight, they definitely made the right decision...

The first part of the walk followed the same track as the previous day's, but then we turned left rather than right, crossing the Lars glacier this time. The early retirements were really beneficial to the rest of us, as we were all of a similar age and fitness and so moved along at a steady pace that suited everyone.

The walk started getting more difficult, but ultimately more enjoyable, after the glacier crossing because we were now walking in the snow. I got talking to Sofia's boyfriend, a very friendly German lad who'd been in Svalbard for 18 months, but was moving to Leicester soon to study for 3 years...what a difference that will be! I enjoyed chatting to him, but the talk had to stop when we reached a sudden deep part in the snow. There was a lot of melted ice and it was comical watching everyone trying to cross without getting wet. I certainly wasn't successful and ended up with numb feet...again!

At this point we could see Trollsteinen and it didn't look too far really, but the whole area was blanketed in at least a foot of snow, and I was assured that it would take another hour and a half to reach the summit. So we continued up a fairly steep hill, stamping our feet hard in the snow to reduce the chances of slipping, and thankfully there were no casualties.

As we moved closer to the summit, the walk gradually became more hairraising until we found ourselves walking along the narrowest of ridges, with sharp drops on either sides of us. In no way did I want to go first along this testing ridge, and quite happily followed behind so I could stand in the footprints that the others had created. The snow along the ridge was still about 8-10 inches deep, so I was quite relieved when we reached the summit (although I knew we had to return the same way!).

The views during this final climb, and especially from the top, were simply breathtaking - it really did feel like you were on top of the world. None of the hundreds of peaks you could see were obscured by the clouds, and at this point I realised just how close to the North Pole we were. It was just snow covered mountains all around, and I took another panoramic video clip that captures the scenery more accurately.

We ate our sandwiches at the peak, which was by far the most scenic picnic I've ever had! What amazed me was the fact that there wasn't even a hint of a breeze. It was so calm, and we stayed there for over half an hour soaking up the view, before cautiously walking back along the ridge. There were a couple of heartstopping mini-slips but nothing serious, and once that was out of the way it was an easy descent as you could slide down, or run in the case of one of the Swedish guys.

The steep section down to the Longyearbreen glacier was overcome with a lot more ease than on the previous day, as we took it in turns to slide down, some head first and some feet first. It was great fun although the result was a wet back to add to the wet feet! I wasn't the only one though, as the Swedish girl stopped on numerous occasions to pour the water out of her boots like a tap, and to ring her socks!

The walk ended after another couple of river crossings, and although tired, I felt exhilerated at what had been one of the walks of my life. Not even England's loss in the football could dampen my spirits (ok maybe it did for 10 minutes or so), as I was enjoying myself and Svalbard was certainly living up to expectations...
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