"Northern Europes Tallest Mountains"
There is always something to be learned from planning a trip and this time it was to check which airport you are flying into. It was such a rookie mistake and one that I will never make again. We booked our flights to Oslo Norway with Ryanair, when I booked the flights I searched for Oslo and booked the cheapest flights to Oslo airport. I looked on the map and there was only one Oslo airport. I then booked our car for the four days that we would be in Norway. We then got on with our busy summer of wedding photography and counted down the months till our trip.
A month before the trip I decided to check everything. I noticed on our flight confirmation that the airport code was RYG not OSL (Oslo). I typed in the airport code into Google to find out that the Ryanair flight was flying into Moss-Rygge airport not Oslo International. I was so confused so I searched again thinking how could I have made such a stupid mistake. It turns out Ryanair was calling it Oslo Moss-Rygge. I am sure I am not the first person to get caught out by this (don’t forget to use the airport code guys). I was a bit angry at Ryanair because this was not really an Oslo airport and to add Oslo before Moss-Rygge was a bit misleading.
As the name of the airport suggests it is actually the airport for the towns off Moss and Rygge, it was over an hour away from Oslo. I then called the car rental company and explained the mistake. They let me know that they had no cars available at Moss-Rygge and that I would need to cancel and book with another company. The cancellation cost £50 plus the cars were more expensive at this airport. It was an annoying lesson to learn.
We planned to visit Jotunheimen national park and hike the epic Besseggen ridge which is the middle section of a 14km trail. It would take between 6-7 hours.
We were going budget on this trip as Norway is already an expensive country to visit. We would take only what we could fit into our carry on bags and check no other bags in. We managed to pack our small two man tent clothing and cooking kit (Trangia) into our carry ons. We would only then need to buy some gas and food for the stay in the mountains. I found a small outdoor shop online that we could stop by after we had arrived. When we got there they actually told us the gas we needed could be purchased from most petrol stations. We also found a nearby supermarket to grab food.
Our drive from the airport to the national park was a 5-6 hour journey. We passed through many tunnels as we skirted around Oslo and other built up areas. As we got further into the mountains we saw all the ski resorts which were quiet as the ski season wouldn’t start until another few months. We had epic storm looking clouds as we drove up which eventually split allowing strong evening sunlight to flood through.
We were planning to possibly carry our tent on the hike so that we could camp near a lake in the mountains and get some epic early morning photos. We scrapped this plan though as we were woefully underprepared for the night time weather. Neither of us had down jackets before this trip, now I take mine everywhere I go. We had only looked at the day time temperature before leaving the UK. While it was cold at night it wasn’t dangerously cold but there was a Stöng headwind coming from the lake and it was another reminder to be prepared.
Our sleeping bags were designed for 10+ degrees and warmer not the 5+ degrees it was at night and we both felt pretty cold and didn’t sleep very well on our first night in Jotunheimen. We had parked our car and walked 500 meters or so to the edge of a fjord for our first nights camping after the long drive up from southern Norway. We cooked our food sitting in the doorway of the tent as the rain came down.
The next morning we woke and packed our camping kit away. We stuffed it into the boot of the car and started on the trail. At the end of the hike in 6 hours time we could catch the boat back along the fjord to the car park and set up camp again for that night. However if we missed the last boat we would either have to pay a lot of money to stay in one of the cabins or turn around and hike all the way back.
The early morning light and views across the fjord were spectacular. There were chains to help hikers up the first few steep sections of climbing. As soon as we got up the mountain it was a reasonably flat hike all the way to Besseggen ridge. When we arrived at Besseggen ridge there was a total bottleneck of people trying to climb down and from people trying to climb up who started the hike that morning from the other direction. It was all a bit mad and some of the hikers found it difficult and scary to climb down meaning things got even slower causing some people to grow impatient. I was worried that there could be a slip or a push and that could end up bringing a lot of people down. When we did finally get down the other side safely we stopped and had our lunch.
We were now halfway and the rest of the journey was flat and then downhill on dusty paths which always hurt the knees. We hiked past beautiful mountain top lakes and glaciers and it really was one of the most beautiful hikes we have ever done. Apart from all the other hikers we felt like we were in an untouched wilderness surround by hundreds of mountains close to or over 2000 meters. The highest point of this trail is just over 1,700 meters and any one of reasonable fitness can complete it.
Luckily we made it down the other side before the final boat of the day and as a bonus the clouds parted and the sun came out strongly for us to lie in the sun as we waited for the boat to arrive. It was a perfect way to rest our feet after a long but beautiful day.
After our boat ride we went to the car and grabbed our camping kit and this time walked a little way up the side of a hill to get an amazing view of the fjord for dinner time and sunset. It took a while to find a level ledge that we could pitch the tent on so we wouldn’t be sliding down all night.
The next morning we got up and started the drive back to Oslo We would be spending one night in the city before flying back early the next morning. We would have to get up super early the day of our flight as it was an hours drive from Oslo to the airport.
On the way to Oslo we stopped at scenic places to photograph and found some houses with grass roofs. Norway is such a beautiful country and we would love to come back and explore further north.