Kjeragbolten: Scary, Exhausting and Exciting!
Over the summer I was in Norway, trying to complete three hikes which are on my bucket list – Kjeragbolten, Preikestolen and Trolltunga. Things did not go to plan as I was only able to do one of them. More on that later…
How to hike Kjeragbolten
In case you don’t know, Kjeragbolten is a rock / boulder that sits in a crevasse in the Kjerag mountain in the south west of Norway with almost a 1,000 metre drop to your certain death.
The easiest way to do the hike is from the city of Stavanger in the south west of Norway. Once there, I was able to get a bus transfer to and from the hiking start/end points from a company called Tide Reiser. You can find more information on this service from here.
The price for the bus is 550 NOK return, which is just over £40. Yes it is expensive, but when you consider this is Norway and I was going solo, it was much cheaper than hiring a car!
The bus departs from the main bus station in Stavanger at 0730 which you can find on a map here and arrives at the starting point of the hike, Øygardstøl, at approximately 1100. The bus departs for the return to Stavanger at 1700 giving you 6 hours to complete the hike. Tide Reiser recommend 5 hours for the hike so this should be plenty of time. I was able to complete it, having not done a hike in several months or any training beforehand.
Due to weather conditions on part of the journey, it is only possible to do this from mid June until the end of August. It is important to note that there is no guide on the hike. You have to look out for rocks with red ‘T’ signs pointing you in the right direction, which was also a bit of a challenge when I did this hike.
From Øygardstøl, the hike to Kjeragbolten is approximately 9 km long and is effectively a series of 3 steep climbs with a short climb down between each.
I am not going to lie, it is tough and hard on the knees. There were times that I was cursing to myself thinking why was I putting myself through this, but the views along the way are so stunning that it was worth it!
The first climb is probably the hardest and there are sections which are so steep that you need to pull yourself up using guide chains. When the toughest part over, you can rest your lungs for a while on the walk down, admiring the amazing scenery and crossing a small river stream.
The 2nd climb is not as hard as the first. There is a point where the adventurous can put their feet over the edge of the mountain for some pictures.
The 3rd and final stage is mostly flat, walking across a combination of snow and rock. Proper hiking shoes/boots are DEFINITELY needed for this hike. I was unfortunate to walk on a loose area of snow and dropped about a foot deep so take care where you walk!
Remember I said that seeing the red T signs for the direction wasn’t that easy? That is because of the weather on this day. In the space of about two minutes a mist/fog rolled in over the top of the mountain. At times I couldn’t see more than two or three metres in front of me. It was like a scene from Resident Evil or Silent Hill!
After about 30 minutes (in normal weather conditions), you will reach Kjeragbolten. I have read that it can take a long time to get onto the rock depending on the number of people in the queue. I didn’t experience any such problems though. People are tired from the hike, so they take turns to go onto the rock while others take on some water and eat some food. I might have had to wait for 5 minutes at most before it was my turn…..
The Return Hike
If you hike up a mountain, then the return journey must be mostly downhill. I hate downhill sections. I always find they are what cause injuries, which is exactly what happened to me.
On the way down, the weather got even worse and the heavens opened, making a slippery hike even worse. At one particularly steep downhill section I slipped, landed on my ass and banged my right knee hard on the rocks. I also avoided having a metal hoop (think of it as an industrial tent peg for keeping the guide chain in place) in my back by no more than 2 inches.
The remainder of the downhill hike was spent with me limping and getting more and more soaked. Eventually I made it, in agony, to the start and my return bus to Stavanger. When I got back to Stavanger, I had another 30 minutes walk back to where I was staying (It was cheaper than the centre), but when I made it back, I was glad to have a nice, long, hot shower to cure my aching bones and muscles.
Despite my injury, I was glad that I had done the hike to Kjeragbolten. I just wish I could have completed the other two as well. Perhaps a return to Norway next year is required?
Preikestolen and Trolltunga
The two other hikes in the area are Preikestolen and Trolltunga, both of which can be done with the same company. You can find out more information
As a result of the injury to my knee, I was unable to do the hikes. But at least I was able to go the starting points and see some more of Norway.
From Preikestolen, I was able to get a bus to the small town of Odda which is one of the main starting points for hiking Trolltunga. The hike to Kjerag took more out of me than I had realised and I ended up sleeping past the bus to Trolltunga, but I was able to spend some time resting my knee and relaxing for my overnight bus to Oslo.