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How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?


Postby al78 » Wed May 08, 2019 11:59 pm

I've always had a desire, deep down, to visit the Jotunheimen region of Norway and do some trecking between the mountain huts they have in that area, plus go up a few of the summits which have paths marked on the map. I am curious as to how walking in Jotunheimen compares to walking amongst/up the higher peaks of Scotland. I know there are tourist summits like Glittertind and Galdhoppigen which I believe don't require advanced mountain skills, but how technically hard would it be to climb up a typical 2000+m summit (excluding the Hurrungane, as I know that is more like alpine climbing)? How does the terrain underfoot and difficulty of ridge walking compare with Scotland? I am thinking of routes and summits that don't have hazardous glaciers that require crossing. The actual effort required to gain summits in Jotunheimen doesn't look that different to Scotland, since the region is basically an elevated plateau 1000m asl with mountains rising up to another 1400m above that, and the ascent from valley floor to summit is no worse than climbing Ben Nevis.
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby ChrisButch » Thu May 09, 2019 9:07 am

The similarities are greater than the differences. Underfoot you're rather more likely to find drier, shorter vegetation and more rock, except in the deeper forested valleys which can be slow going. If you're peak-bagging, you'll find extensive snow patches and neve at any time of the year, and if you don't mind carrying axe and crampons the choice of routes obviously becomes wider, although there are glacier-free routes up most tops. The routes between the DNT huts are well waymarked with red 'T' marks. The DNT huts in the Jotunheium are mostly large and staffed (don't miss Fondsbu, which is exceptional for its food and other things) although they can get very busy, and a self-service hut like Olavsbu can be a bit of a struggle. There are several privately-owned huts, but in general they're similar to the DNT huts. Although hut-to-hut distances are moderate, you have to be prepared for greater total ascent days than the average in Scotland if you're peak-bagging. It's often possible to traverse a top between huts rather than following the marked direct route.
There's a very good English-language guide to peak-bagging routes: Opptur Jotunheimen by Finn Loftesnes, published by Selja Forlag.
For our first summer visit, we approached by sea, taking the express boat from Bergen up to the head of Sognefjord to start walking from Ovre Årdal. If you're coming overland from Oslo, the Norwegian long-distance buses are very good and reliable, as are the trains-plus-bus if you approach from the East. Summer weather conditions are very similar to the Highlands, although wind speeds usually less.
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby Mal Grey » Thu May 09, 2019 9:34 am

As you say, the actual physical effort isn't much different, and they are low enough not to have altitude issues.

My experience of Norway is that the marked trail system is excellent (painted marks on rocks/trees normally). Once off that, there's nothing. Terrain can then be tough, and you feel more remote than in Scotland, and aware of how small you are in a big landscape where few people go.

I haven't been to the Jotunheim area since I was a young teenager. Yes, there are glaciers, but I think you'd find it easy enough to find peaks to climb without crossing these, or only crossing easy safe ones. Galdhoppigen is straightforward from Spiterstulen, we enjoyed it and the views are stunning.

This might be worth looking at: http://www.tilltopps.com/index.php?menu=8&eng=1
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby Sack the Juggler » Thu May 09, 2019 9:36 am

Jotenheimen is amazing, as you say, its up on a plateau, so you go up and then when you think you've got to the top, the mountains spring up and they are a delight. Fair takes your breathe away.

The key difference for Galdhopiggen is that it doesn't have a tourist route to follow, so although its technically not difficult, the traffic flow is much lower, and there is a large cafe on top, which is needed to dry your clothes and warm up when you get there (if its been raining all the way up :D ). We went with a guide and parts of it we were roped up (although this seemed to be a bit over the top as the crevasses were quite thin and easy to step over). One guy slide on a bit of glacier when we weren't roped up, but we caught him.

I would definitely suggest going in a group if you are unsure. The going is very rocky, I mean, very rocky.

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Its a long day so take a packed lunch
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The cafe to dry your clothes in
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This is the bit where we nearly lost someone, its an easy bit so we weren't roped up, but he lost his footing and started sliding, luckily I had my microspikes on and was able to reach him in time.
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This is where you get roped up
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Some of the crevasses
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Did I meantion it was very rocky?
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby Sack the Juggler » Thu May 09, 2019 10:33 am

The rest of Jotunheimen is less rocky, but the vegetation is more low lying shrubs and trees, rather than peat bog, so its mostly hard underfoot (my feet are aching just remembering it), but you can still hit boggy parts if you are lucky :D

Also the mountains spring up from the lakes, so traversing the routes involves more ascents / descents, but the views are stunning.

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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby prog99 » Thu May 09, 2019 10:42 am

It’s not the crevasses you can see but the ones you can’t!
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby Sack the Juggler » Thu May 09, 2019 11:01 am

prog99 wrote:It’s not the crevasses you can see but the ones you can’t!
true
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby ChrisButch » Thu May 09, 2019 12:12 pm

Mal Grey wrote: you feel more remote than in Scotland, and aware of how small you are in a big landscape where few people go.

Not sure I agree with that. It's certainly true of other areas further north: but in the Jotunheimen the hut network is so complete that you're never as far from a hut as you are from a roadhead in some parts of the Highlands. And in the summer and the ski touring season there are always plenty of people about, at least on the marked hut-to-hut routes. The Besseggen ridge above Gjende can feel like Striding Edge on a a bank holiday!

What has changed in recent years is that there is more interest in reaching tops, rather than the traditional Norwegian hill culture of following hut-to-hut routes only. As a result there are now routes visible on the ground on some of the more accessible tops, which weren't there 30 years ago (a bit like the Munros, in fact).
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby al78 » Wed May 15, 2019 9:58 pm

Thanks for the info. I've always thought of Jotunheimen as the Scottish highlands scaled up. If I go I think I will start with a guided walking holiday, I'm not sure I feel confident about organising every logistic myself and/or winging it. It is much easier to do that in Scotland with no language barrier and never being more than a half day walk from a village.
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby prog99 » Wed May 15, 2019 10:40 pm

al78 wrote:Thanks for the info. I've always thought of Jotunheimen as the Scottish highlands scaled up. If I go I think I will start with a guided walking holiday, I'm not sure I feel confident about organising every logistic myself and/or winging it. It is much easier to do that in Scotland with no language barrier and never being more than a half day walk from a village.

Theres no language barrier in Norway, they probably speak it better than us at times.
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby ChrisButch » Thu May 16, 2019 8:36 am

al78 wrote:Thanks for the info. I've always thought of Jotunheimen as the Scottish highlands scaled up. If I go I think I will start with a guided walking holiday, I'm not sure I feel confident about organising every logistic myself and/or winging it. It is much easier to do that in Scotland with no language barrier and never being more than a half day walk from a village.

The guided tours organised by the DNT itself are very good (the DNT is the organisation which runs the hut network), but don't be put off by presumed logistical challenges - there really aren't any. You do need to join the DNT https://english.dnt.no/, but you don't need to book for a hut (in fact you can't book unless you're staying 3 nights in the same hut.) Public transport in Norway is a doddle, with bus and train timetables integrated. The Turistksart maps (1:50000 covering the Jotunheimen in 2 sheets) are good, with the waymarked hut-to-hut routes clearly shown. (Best source for the maps is the Map Shop in Upton-on-Severn https://www.themapshop.co.uk/ For details on the huts themselves, including hut-to-hut times, see https://ut.no.
As for the language, everybody, but everybody speaks English (English is taught in Norwegian schools from junior school). r
TBH, I find organising the logistics of a hillwalking trip in Scotland from my base here in Devon is often more challenging than organising a fortnight's hutting in Norway!
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Re: How does Jotunheimen compare to Scotland?

Postby Sack the Juggler » Thu May 16, 2019 10:21 am

I guess once you get used to it, then it will become clearer to understand what is happening and how things work out there. They do speak English but the culture is different and everyone there knows what to do when they go out there (they even have a way of wrapping their sandwiches up in the morning with greaseproof paper that is a treat to watch).

In terms of the language, I find Norwegian easier to understand than Swedish, which might be a result of our viking heritage here in the UK (for example window in Norwegian is Vindu, but in Swedish is fonster), but as has been said, they all speak English anyway. I won't tell you what the word for rucksack is, I'll let you find out for yourself :D
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