If you really want to stand on the tip of the “troll’s tongue,” come prepared or don’t come at all. This means taking all kinds of factors into consideration before heading out to capture one of the most coveted images of one of the world’s most majestic wonders. Read about what happened to us and how we eventually overcame the “beast.”
Trolltunga is a mindblowing scenic cliff that juts out over Lake Ringedalsvatnet, which lies 700 meters below. While it looks like a spectacular photo op, the climb to get there is not a playground for beginners or impulsive tourists in flip-flops. After one failed attempt, we kept referring to it as the “beast” and that nickname didn’t change even after we managed to conquer it!
On the tip of troll’s tongue
Trolltunga literally means the troll’s tongue, one of Norway’s – well actually the world’s – natural wonders, a crazy rock formation perched at an altitude of 1,000 meters. It’s about a six-and-a-half-hour drive west from Oslo to get to the area.
Thinking back on our first attempt to hike it elicits a smirk. Fact is, I wasn’t originally planning this hike; I just had come across some nice photos on Instagram while driving from Trondheim to Oslo so I was like, “What the heck? Why not give it a shot and stop there for a day? I am always up for a good hike.”
Picture this, (or don’t!)
It turned out I had no idea whatsoever what a huge challenge it would be to reach Trolltunga. So don’t let Instagram fool you into believing that a nice photo is merely just a click away, or that the spectacular scene is something you wouldn’t have to work for.
First of all, originally the concept for this hike was that it take place over 2 days, but in recent years, and due to some changed circumstances, now it’s only one day. For anyone who wants to savor the trip, the new time constraint makes it difficult to enjoy the hike, landscape, or even to take photos, because there is not much time for breaks due to the time constraint.
The value of being prepared
The Trolltunga hike is extremely dependant on the weather conditions. You have to be very prepared. This includes careful planning, good physical and mental conditioning, proper trekking clothes, food and water. Taking all this into consideration, it is easy to see how – instead of standing on the troll’s tongue – we rather ended up licking his feet…
It was May: capricious, ever changing in Norwegian terms, still snowing especially at higher altitudes. We got to the base camp at 1 pm. We had one banana for the two of us and a half a liter of water. Well prepared, huh?
Try, try again
Common sense prevailed. After the first (!) kilometer, and at an elevation of 600 meters, on a muddy-rocky path, with ropes in certain places to help you get to the top of some of the bigger chunks of rock, plus the worsening snowfall – we eventually gave up and turned back. But I am not the type to give up, so we went back in August, all geared up, ready to conquer the beast!
Preparation – need to know
So, taking both the first failure and later glory into consideration, here is a list of things you need to know to prepare for a hike to Trolltunga.
Go during the summer, possibly in July or August. You will walk together with a whole flock of people, and even though there is only a minimal chance of rain in these months, the rocky surfaces that make up the path, even when slightly wet, can be treacherous. There were only a few drops of rain when I was there, but it made a big difference! Rain makes hiking on Trolltunga a lot more difficult – I stopped counting how many people I saw slip and fall. Breaking an ankle is never fun, especially if you have no chance to get quick help.
A backpack, raincoat, extra t-shirt and socks may come in handy (you will be sweating). Very good quality trekking shoes are also recommended.
Give yourself 10-13 hours for the entire journey, including some short photo stops and 1-2 hours at the top. There is a queue when you get there. For us, the trip totalled 11 hours, with no breaks, and only a few clicks during the hike and 2 hours on the top. This could be longer or shorter depending on your physical preparedness, which again leads to the next issue (see below).
4. PHYSICAL CONDITION
Even if you are young and strong, you need to be in good shape before venturing out on a trip to Trolltunga.
5. HAVE A CAMERA
Maybe it is stupid to mention as everybody goes there for THAT photo. But make sure you have your camera or phone fully charged as there will be many beautiful scenes along the way.
6. BE CAREFUL
Trolltunga has become a very popular destination in recent years. I met someone who travelled all the way from California just to capture this pic, and a guy queuing just behind me knelt down and proposed to his girlfriend on the “tongue.” My second time, I went there on my birthday and I can tell you it made for a pretty special birthday! So it is totally ok to make the Trolltunga hike an “event,” stand in line and wait for your turn, fight your fear of heights and walk out onto this amazing rock formation – and take in the otherworldly landscape – it’s all worth it.
But please don’t be a daredevil for the sake of a photo! Both at Trolltunga and Cliffs of Moher in Ireland I have seen people just about to fall off of cliffs, simply because they weren’t paying enough attention to the potential danger.
7. RESPECT NATURE, RESPECT TROLLTUNGA
I can’t emphasize this enough. Be aware that this hike is long and Trolltunga doesn’t have adequate facilities to accommodate the number of people visiting it. There are no toilets or rubbish bins along the hike, so collect your garbage and take it back to the base camp. Please leave Trolltunga as unspoilt as you found it!