It was the end of our Norway excursion. The one place my sister-in-law wanted to see was Kjeragbolten –but we were tired. Did I really want to go or should we pass?
According to VisitNorway.com “The hike to Kjerag is around 11 kilometers (almost 7 miles) long and the round trip takes 6 to 10 hours. You need to be in good physical shape before heading out on this mountain hike which has an elevation gain of 800 meters. In some places, you have to pull yourself up and slide down with the help of wires, so it is a demanding hike even for experienced hikers.”
We deliberated for hours. Finally, we decided to do it. We figured we would regret it if we didn’t
Friends of friends picked us up in the wee hours of the morning. They lived in Norway and had never been to Kjeragbolten. They knew it would be a fun adventure. I guess it is just one of those things that you don’t do or really appreciate until you are forced to do when tourist-friends come to visit…
Just the drive was an adventure. Over and around and through the skinny roads of rural Norway. At one point we came around a curve and came up on a herd of sheep laying calmly on the road and beside the road. Probably 30 sheep merely glanced at us as we slalomed slowly around the individual sheep warming themselves on the warm black road.
When we got to Kjeragbolten, there was a small parking lot and a check-in building. All cars had to be registered so that they were sure all tourists returned at the end of the day.
We hiked uphill for 4 hours. Long windy stretches of rock. It seemed like the edge of the world. The string of humans probably looked like a column of pilgrims or maybe travelers somewhere in Middle Earth.
In a few places, you had to use steel chains, that were attached to the face of the boulders, to climb up the side to the top. These chains were sometimes a few meters long, other times, maybe 50 meters long.
When we reached Kjeragbolten, it wasn’t what I expected. It seemed like a dead-end, a rocky endpoint. A rock wall blocked the view. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of feet left the snow trampled. People were taking pictures of friends. One woman asked a stranger to wear her knit stocking cap and go back to the Kjeragbolten bolder so she could take a picture. (At least her hat had made it all the way to the bolder.)
When it was my turn to go out on the bolder, I shimmied along the face of the cliff. For balance, there was a single eye-bolt screwed into the cliff wall. (You will notice people using this little bolt at 6:43 and 6:50 in the video here.) Once I got around the face of the cliff, I still had to shimmy over the dip between the cliff and the flattish top of the bolder. I did this on all fours. I didn’t want to jump across the gap like some people. Although there are no recorded deaths resulting from a 950-meter fall, “the reality of the situation is that you’re only a small slip away from falling to your death when you are climbing out to and back from the wedged rock” according to TheNorwayGuide.com.
Once out on the bolder, I felt brave enough to sit..not kneel…not stand. I definitely was not going to tempt fate with any yoga poses. Being that close to God, with no safety measures, was solemn and awe-inspiring.
The chance of death, if not likely, felt real.
And, with the experience behind me, I am so glad we went. I suppose the moral of the story is…
…tired, or not, adventure is well worth the risk.