A Guide to Hiking Kjeragbolten in Norway
What is Kjeragbolten?
Kjeragbolten is a large boulder wedged between two walls of rock, suspended almost 1km above the Lysefjord in Norway. The site is the destination point of a long hike for adventurous and daring travellers.
Where is Kjeragbolten?
Top 3 Hikes in Norway
Kjeragbolten is one of three epic hikes that many hiking visitors undertake when travelling to southwest Norway. The other two are Trolltunga and Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock). I have written detailed guides to these hikes which you can find by clicking the links. It's hard to rank the three hikes in terms of how physically demanding they are. While Trolltunga wins in terms of length (it is a 22km round trip compared to 8km for Preikestolen and 9km for Kjeragbolten) I would say that Kjerag edges it in terms of the physical challenge. Getting to Kjeragbolten isn't so much of a hike but more of a climb, as I shall go on to cover below.
Getting to Kjeragbolten
The hike starts from the car park at Oygardstol, 7 km up the hill from the tiny hamlet of Lysebotn. The drive up to Oygardstol from Lysebotn can be a hairy experience as you drive the 27 hairpin bends on a road that is mostly a narrow single lane, including a 1.5-km-long single-lane tunnel. Quite the experience—especially when you meet a coach coming towards you at 70kph!
If you are coming from Lysebotn then it means that you have taken the Lysefjord Tourist Ferry from the western end of the Lysefjord. This is a near 3-hour journey down the Lysefjord with audio commentary highlighting a number of sights of interest along the way, including Kjeragbolten as seen from below.
Parking Charges at Kjeragbolten
At the car park at Oygardstol you will find the Kjerag Restaurant and cafe. Pop in for a hot drink and a hearty meal at the end of your trek; it'll keep you going, especially on the way back down. It's pricey, even for Norway, but the food is excellent and it's a nice place to relax and warm up.
When you park at the car park you'll be expected to pay the car park tax. Unlike the varying amounts payable at Trolltunga, here you pay a flat 150 NOK. A guy who works for the Norwegian Tourist Board will collect the money from you and generally keep order here. There are some toilets here but that's about it. Once you've paid up and displayed your ticket on your dash, it's time to get going on the hike, or should I say climb.
Kjerag Base Jump
Preparing for the Kjeragbolten Hike
The hike to Kjeragbolten is 4.5km long and should take most people around two hours each way. It starts out with a steep walk uphill for about 30 metres and then you quickly adjust to the reality that this is no ordinary hike. You soon start climbing up steep rock faces, holding on for dear life to the steel chains. Be careful: when it rains it can be very slippery on the rocks, so make sure you hold on to the chains. There are several places where should you slip and fall, you would likely continue sliding down the rock and face serious injury, or worse.
My advice is to wear gloves, because you'll be holding on the chains a lot and they can be cold and rough to the touch, especially when wet. When going up you'll find that you may be using your arms, as well as your leg muscles, to haul you up and over the rock shelves.
After completing the first ascent you may be disheartened to see the trail leading downhill on the other side before heading back up to an even higher summit. The second ascent is more challenging and is definitely more dangerous in places but it's still not too hard. One step at a time and you'll be fine.
What you should be mindful of is the weather. As is the case with any mountain hike, be aware that the weather could change at any moment. On the day that we did the Kjerag hike the weather when we started at 6:45 am was slightly misty with a bit of drizzle. No problem, we thought, and for the first hour or so there was indeed no problem. However, while we were traversing the steep rock faces of the second ascent and hauling our way up using the chains, a blanket of thick fog enveloped everything around us and we could literally see nothing. Rather than risk taking a wrong turn and falling into the abyss below, we waited it out for 10 minutes until we could see ahead of us, and then we continued. The thick fog stayed with us for quite a while as we kept on towards Kjeragbolten. It got worse when the rain started to get heavier and heavier; the wind got up around us and the temperature dropped rather markedly.
The route of the hike is marked all the way along with a series of red 't' markings that have been painted on to rocks. You will also find several signs revealing how far you have come and how far is left to go. The markings are especially handy on this hike, more so than for Preikestolen and Trolltunga, as with much of the terrain being solid rock, there isn't a well-trod footpath to follow.
Hike to Kjeragbolten Safely
The hike to Kjeragbolten is not without its dangers. But if you take the necessary precautions and prepare accordingly, most able-bodied people should be able to complete the hike without problems.
You will need to wear appropriate hiking clothing. Water-resistant walking pants are essential and take some storm pants with you to put on over the top in case there is a torrential downpour. Wear your waterproof jacket from the start; even if it's not raining when you begin, you can always take it off if you get too hot.
Wear good quality hiking boots. You will need boots that have protection for the ankles rather than trainer-style shoes. The terrain is often uneven and at all angles and there is a real risk of turning your ankle with a mistimed step. Get those boots pulled on nice and tight. Wear medium to thick hiking socks for a good snug fit. I wore Salomon X-Ultra men's hiking boots for all of my hikes in Norway and they performed exceptionally well in all three hikes. They are available from Amazon at a good price and I fully recommend them to you.
Recommended footwear: Salomon X-Ultra
The abyss at Kjeragbolten
Climbing on to the boulder at Kjeragbolten
For many people the culmination of the hike to Kjerag is to climb on to the boulder and have their picture taken. However, be warned that this is very dangerous, If you slip you will die; it's as simple as that. It is especially dangerous when it has been raining or snowing. The boulder is plenty wide enough to stand on, but getting on to it is where the real danger is.
Please leave me any comments you have regarding this article. I've tried to include as much detail as possible but if there's anything further that you'd like to know please go ahead and ask me in the comments section below and I'll do my best to answer and update the article with any missing info that might improve it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2016 Matt Doran