The Kjerag Hike, Norway: In Pursuit of Kjeragbolten!
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It was a picture of the infamous Kjeragbolten, a free hanging rock impossibly wedged in a mountain crevice overlooking the beautiful Lysefjord, that sealed the deal on our Norway trip. The daredevils in us were ignited, flights were booked, a tent was purchased and suddenly we were standing at the bottom of Kjerag mountain on a cold and snowy June morning. A 9km hike with a 600 metre climb was a daunting prospect but we were ready to tackle Kjerag and one of the most beautiful hikes of our lives!
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Lights, camera, action: let’s hike!
After a night spent under the stars camping at the bottom of Lysefjord we were up bright and early ready to hit the Kjerag trail. In our infinite wisdom the previous evening we pitched the tent facing Kjerag and our first impressions were that it looked incredibly beautiful but very, very high. This resulted in a night spent dreaming about climbing large mountains in the snow. Oh well, at least we were mentally prepared!
Kjerag and Fjord views straight from our tent!
We had planned to stay in Flørli 4444 Hostel, a beautiful hostel located right on the shores of Lysefjord with incredible views across one of Norways most beautiful fjords. The hostel is only accessible by ferry and unfortunately, the ferry had not started for the season when we visited so we never made it. This stunning hostel comes highly recommended and is not to be missed on a trip to Lysefjord – Check prices now!
The hike starts from Øygardstøl, which is a short drive above Lysebotn and has a car park (100 NOK), a cafe with incredible views, a small information centre, toilets and a hike map. Checking out the map gave me the fear: 3 steep ascents and 9km hike will do that to a person!
Our crazy Norway schedule meant that we squeezed our Kjerag hike in on the last day of May while the Kjerag season runs from June to October. One glance at the snow-covered mountain looming above and it was easy to see why! With freezing temperatures and an extremely changeable weather forecast for the day ahead we checked in at the visitors centre to make sure conditions were safe: good hiking boots and plenty of water was the advise from those in the know and, equipped with both, we happily set off.
A little uphill action to kick off the day!
The Kjerag hike is made up of 3 steep inclines which are each followed by some extremely welcome descents and flat ground providing some downtime in between. The hike starts as it means to go on with a challenging and lengthy climb up a steep rock face for the first 200 metres from the car park. Some parts of initial the climb are challenging enough to require the assistance of the chain supports which helpfully appear along the steepest and most difficult parts of the route. The melting layer of snow only added to the experience!
A helping hand!
Straight to work! Part way up the first climb:
Blood, sweat, tears and 4 seasons in one hike!
As we approached the top of the first ascent the weather took a sudden turn for the worse. The beautiful clear blue skies quickly turned grey and a snow storm ensued. The conditions were quite tough as we braved the driving wind and snow from the side of the mountain with limited visibility and nowhere to shelter. Our initial reaction was to turn around while we were still close to the base but the weather reports looked good and we hadn’t come all this way for a short climb. Rain, hail or shine we were determined to continue on to Kjeragbolten and, as soon as the weather improved, we shook ourselves off and continued on our journey!
Is there anybody out there? The weather taking a turn for the worse:
Throughout the course of the hike we experienced pretty much every weather condition possible: snow, rain, wind, freezing temperatures and even blistering sunshine which had us reaching for the Factor 50. It was a strange experience but one for which we were well prepared with lots of water, sunscreen, layered waterproof clothing and strong hiking boots all of which were necessary at some point.
Pass me the sunscreen – this was taken about 30 minutes after the snow storm!
Wrapped up against the elements:
As for the blood and tears, I’m certain I cried a little during the never-ending final climb which saw me take some time out on a rock and ponder the meaning of life and, more specifically, hiking. Then I scratched my hand on the rock as I sat down!
Crying on the inside!
Finding our way to Kjeragbolten
The Kjerag hike is clearly marked with a red T painted on small stone piles at regular intervals along the way. The red T’s were marked closely enough together that we could see where we were headed from one stone pile to the next. Although the thick snow did its best to cover the hiking route, we were able to navigate quite easily through a mix of the red T’s and following the footprints of the hikers who had gone before us on their way to Kjeragbolten!
T marks the way!
Follow those footprints:
What a view!
The second climb was the most physically demanding of the day and consisted of steep and slippery rock faces which saw us clambering up clinging tightly to the chains. It was challenging but as we climbed higher we were rewarded with spectacular views which made it feel like we were approaching the top of the world. We could see for miles across the fjords and this, together with the excitement of getting closer to the top and the coveted Kjerag boulder, spurred us on. After all surely the end was just around the bend?!
It wasn’t. In fact, even when we made it to the top of the seemingly never-ending third climb we still had some way to go before we reached Kjeragbolten. The snow made for some extra tough conditions as we trudged through the knee-deep snow which saw us fall over countless times along the way. At least there were plenty of laughs and a soft landing!
Everyone asked the same question at the top of the third climb, ‘are we close to Kjeragbolten?’. Not quite! It’s actually far beyond the footprints in the distance!
Kjeragbolten: we made it!
After a 3.5 hour climb Kjeragbolten came into sight and we were blown away by the boulder suspended in between the mountain crevice which looked every bit as good as the photos promised. As soon as I saw it I knew that climbing out on it was never going to happen as I’m not a huge fan of heights! Dave, being an absolute daredevil when it comes to all things outdoors, was the complete opposite and couldn’t wait to check it out up close and personal!
We’d read about hour long queues to stand on Kjeragbolten but we climbed Kjerag on a very quiet day during which we only met about 20 to 30 other hikers on their way to the rock. Some time was spent watching our fellow climbers posing on the boulder and it was funny to see each and every one take a very tentative step out! And completely understandable given the 1000 metre sheer drop in all directions!
I closed my eyes and hoped for the best as Dave casually hopped out onto Kjeragbolten. Being slightly short and standing on a temporary snowdrift (also a 1,000 metre drop with nothing below) meant I couldn’t recreate the infamous Kjerag shots but it was still incredibly awesome!
Don’t look down! The view from standing on Kjeragbolten!
Not one to do things by halves, Dave opted for a second jaunt onto Kjeragbolten as he wanted to capture it on the GoPro. I can barely watch the footage without getting nervous (that’s me with my eyes closed in the background!) but it’s some of my favourite video action from the trip!
The views from the top are incredible and we spent a an hour chilling out beside Kjeragbolten admiring the amazing fjord views below. Our obsession with snow-capped mountains knows no bounds and we were treated to an abundance of them for as far as we could see!
Star jumps are optional! Lysebotn is stunning from above and it was hard to believe that we’d climbed so high!
The obligatory Fjord selfie!
Our timelapse at the top (watch it in HD, it’s fab!)
What goes up must come down and, with renewed energy supplies after our chill out time and lunch stop, we were ready for the hike back down to the base of Kjerag. We were in for a treat as the return journey included lots of downhill hiking and our tired legs were grateful for the break although the steep descents were harder on our knees! We had some fun running through the snow and made it down without any rest breaks!
Happy downhill face!
90 minutes after leaving Kjeragbolten we made it back to base and celebrated with a well deserved soda. Kjerag was conquered and we were exhausted and happy as we set off for Stavanger in pursuit of our next challenge: Preikestolen and Pulpit Rock we’re on our way to get you next!
Where to Stay When Visiting Pulpit Rock
Hiking Pulpit Rock is one of the must do Norway experiences, however the hike is very popular and can get very busy during peak periods. We recommend booking your accommodation well in advance and staying as close to the hike as possible to allow for an early morning or late evening hike to the summit.
- Wathne Camping: We stayed here in a cosy cabin in Lysefjord between our hikes of Kjerag and Pulpit Rock. The cabins are spacious and very comfortable with everything you’ll need to relax and unwind after hiking. This was one of our favourite cabins in Norway. It’s a 30 minute drive to the Pulpit Rock car park from the site – Click here for best prices!
- Hostel Ryfylke Vandrerhjem Vaulali: A good budget option if you’re looking for something basic to get some rest on your in between hikes check out this cosy hostel – Click here for best prices!
- Lilland Hotell Apartments: A modern apartment option located in Tau close to the ferry from Stavanger with free parking. Perfect