The Mammut Alpine School’s latest tour leads to Norway’s world-famous Lysefjord. In summer, thousands of visitors from all over the world make the pilgrimage here to enjoy one of the most spectacular views imaginable. The nine-day hiking tour comes here in spring, when there is still snow in many places and you can spend weeks without seeing another soul. We spoke to Jan Reich, a hiking guide at the Mammut Alpine School, about this amazing adventure.
Jan, what makes the Mammut Alpine School's tour so special?
We have moved a classic summer trekking tour to spring, when winter conditions still prevail. The tour is very popular in summer, but in winter, you don't see another soul in the southern part! We slept in expedition tents and prepared our own meals on gas stoves. Basically, we always knew where the tour was heading, but at times we had to deal with the challenge of snow depths of up to four meters. We had to make our way cross-country over granular snow to find our own best route.
What are your personal highlights of the tour?
On the very first day, we climb 4,000 steps along an old water pipe. We managed to climb two thirds of the steps, but the top part was still completely covered with snow. We had to beat out our own steps and work our way up over a zigzagging route. It was pretty steep and so it was hard work, but we were rewarded by the fantastic view from the top.
Another highlight is the Kjerabolten, a clamped rock. You can find it straight away in summer as there are lots of signs pointing the way and 50 tourists already there posing for photos. But in winter, it’s not so easy. As the rock was still pretty much covered with snow, it was also too dangerous to step onto it. It's a fantastic place.
We ran the tour in spring using summer equipment, but in winter conditions. What is this like? And is it actually safe?
Safety is always our top priority. At times, we made great loops over mountain crests rather than taking direct routes to avoid danger areas such as slopes with an avalanche risk. Tour participants need to be prepared to spend cold nights in the tent and take on long treks, at times knee-deep in snow.
"On the very first day, we climb 4,000 steps along an old water pipe."
That sounds like an adventure. What equipment do participants need to take for this?
Everyone carries a 50 liter backpack. A light winter sleeping bag or a thick summer sleeping bag, ideally with a fleece inlay, is another essential item. The packing list also includes a soft shell and hard shell jacket and waterproof pants. I can particularly recommend the new Convey 3-in-1 Jacket. The combination of a down and hard shell jacket makes it the right choice every time and the two layers can also be worn separately. Waterproof hiking shoes and gaiters are the required footwear.
On arrival in Norway, participants are issued with tents, cooking equipment and food for the tour. So it's important that their backpacks are only half full.
Do participants sleep outdoors in tents every night on this tour? In any weather?
We sleep in our expedition tents in all kinds of weather. They are designed to withstand even the harshest conditions. After the first half of the tour, we spent a night in log cabins at the ferry station in Lysebotn. This was a chance to dry all our wet clothes and sleep in soft beds for a night. The facility is usually open only in summer, but we had the exclusive opportunity to spend a night there. However, the only thing available to buy was beer from the nearby campsite. This was because there were also a few construction workers there carrying out repairs at the time. No less than 10 euros bought us a half liter of beer. I forked out on a round for the group! Everyone had to drink every last drop, whether they liked beer or not! ;-)
"We sleep in our expedition tents in all kinds of weather."
Finally, for all our readers who are now thinking: I really must do that next year! What conditions do they need to meet to take part?
In general, any reasonably sporty person can take part in this tour. Participants should ideally have previous experience of multi-day hikes. But this is not mandatory. The main thing is that participants are aware they will need to carry an 18 kilogram backpack for a period of 9 days.
Jan, thank you very much for your time!
Visit the Lysefjord with the Mammut Alpine School
Easy-intermediate technical level (sure step)
Medium-high physical fitness
Date: April 26 to May 4, 2019
Find all the details here: