It is most common to start walking the length of Norway in spring or summer, though winter crossings have been made before. We plan to start in the second week of October. We don’t expect snow from the start though we estimate that we will need to change to a winter kit after about 1 to 1,5 months of walking. Temperatures will be cold throughout, falling at their lowest in the dark months of December and January (coldest temperatures recorded in Finse in December and January are -22°C and -26°C). There might be some modifications to our planned route due to snow and avalanche conditions. Winter time presents some challenges to get on and off the trail because of closed roads (secondary roads). Major highways remain open.
Approximately 3 – 4,5 months for the entire route. The time schedule is somewhat unsure because of the snow and we are not sure how much ground we can cover in winter conditions. This is our first trip on skis.
3. Getting to the starting point
Approximate start is between the 8th and the 14th of October.
Best way to get there seems to fly to Alta (SAS, Norwegian from Oslo) and then take the bus to Honningsvåg (www.en-tur.no).
There is also an airport at Honningsvåg, only 32km away, but it’s only Widerøe flying there and this is expensive.
The bus from Honningsvåg to Nordkapp runs all year. For departures and times check the tourist information at Honningsvåg.
4. Gear and gear exchange autumn – winter
Because we are going through two seasons that require entirely different equipment we need to make a gear exchange when winter hits. We will start off with lightweight gear for the autumn (see gear list – very similar to our gear for the Great Himalaya Trail) and have our winter kit sent up (by friends and family) when the conditions demand it. We will not send up any gear in advance to avoid that the skis and pulka will be waiting for us in the wrong place when the snow hits. Rather we have to keep a close eye on the weather forecast and then make a decision as to where the nearest post office is located.
Skis and pulka can be sent with Postnord, Posten and Bring. Personally I don’t find Bring the most reliable of the companies, so I prefer using Posten or Postnord. In addition to skis and a pulka we will also send warmer wool, down jackets, shell jackets and shell pants. Our autumn packs will be sent back to Oslo.
Possibly to send packages that are up to 240cm long and weigh up to 10kg for 99 NOK. Above 10kg (up to 20kg) price goes up to 179NOK. Each package is insured for up to 10.000 NOK.
If the package has to be sent to Sweden PostNord is the best option, though maybe it is easier then to send it to Narvik and take the train from Abisko to Narvik as sending the pulka and skis across the border will be very expensive.
Packages within Norway can be delivered as ‘Norgespakke’: the package can weigh up to 35kg. For packages longer than 120 cm there is an extra fee of 119 NOK (to pay in the post office) for handling. A package up to 10kg costs 145 NOK (when paid online) https://www.posten.no/sende/pakke/norgespakken
- Olderfjord Matkroken (also cabins and hotels), 9 km off route on E16 (122km). Alternative: Skaidi Handel AS, 14km off route on E16.
- Maze Nærbutikk (305km)
- Kautokeino X-Tra (364 km).
16 days to Kautokeino (all timetables taken from E1 website)
- Kilpishalli K-marked (537km)
10 days to Kilpishalli
- Setermoen (675 km) X-Tra, 40km off track. Nearest bus is line 341 from Setermoen, but last bus stop is 17km off track
7 days to Gaskashytta at the road end
- Riksgränsen (train from Björkliden) (714 km)
4 days from Gaskashytta to Abisko – 11 days total of food
- Sulitjelma COOP (depending on route) (1001km)
20 days from Abisko to Sulitjelma over Nordkalottaleden. Might be shorter over Kungsleden but anyhow it’s a lot of food to carry at once. Ritsem cabin is closed (we can sleep inside, but there is no staff). Seems that the bus to Gällivare is not running at this time either.
- Røkland COOP (1084km), 30km off track
Train from Lønsdal to Røkland. 8 days from Sulitjelma to Lønstua
- Umbukta Fjellstue (1213km), possible to send package? (no busses from there to Mo i Rana). Owner has walked NPL 2 times, once in summer and once in winter
7 days from Lønstue to Umbukta Fjellstue
- Stekasselv gård (see poste restante) (1260km)
3 days from Umbukta Fjellstue to Stekasselv
- Aarporte Coop (1298km), 33km off track. No bus
3 days from Stekasselv to Krutvatnet
- Røyrvik Joker (1415 km), 12 km off track
alternative Brekkvasselv Joker. Bus 2700 from Røyrvik. There seem to be other busses as well with ATB: line 17-415 (https://www.tronderbilene.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2018-07-30-Tronderbilene_host_vinter_web-ny.pdf)
9 days from Steikasselv to Røyrvik. NOTE: route here takes ferry over Namnsvatnet but this stops running in september so we will have to go around, which might add a day. Not sure if ice will be strong enough to hold us at this time. Also possible to send a package to Stekvasselv, km 1315.
- Grong stasjon/Nordli (1498 km), Coop in Grong, Matkroken Nordli. Bus 2600 from Nysenet
7 days from Røyrvik to Nysenet
- Trondheim (1770km), 90km off track. Closest station is Storlien in Sweden, 8km to the east from the track. We could also divert from the trail and head for Meråker instead of Teveltunet, from there NSB trains run to Trondheim and busses as well (line 670 Storlien – Meråker – Stjørdal https://www.atb.no/getfile.php/1317746-1531299438/Rutetabeller/Host18/AtB_rute670.pdf). There is a bus from Teveltunet but only on Fridays.
12 days from Nysenet to Teveltunet by E14
- Stugudalen Landhandel (1839km)
3 days from Teveltunet to Stugudalen
- Røros (1915km, depending on route)
3 days from Stugudalen to Røros
- Joker Alvdal (2021km)
126km from Røros (here we start differing from the E1 so from now I state the distance from one point to another rather than the estimated time)
- Sel (2110 km), Coop
90 km from Alvdal
- Vågåmo (2130km), Coop (larger than Sel)
- Joker Tyinkrysset (2285km). Closest bus stop is at Kyrkjestølane, right by track. 9 min by bus with 603 or NW162. Bus is early in the afternoon.
150km from Vågåmo
- Finse (2376km). Finse DNT is closed, Finse1222 open on new year. It is possible to get into Flåm or Voss from Finse by train. There are not so many trains in winter, but at least they are not sold out all the time.
90km from Tyinkrysset
- Haukeliseter (2498km). Possible to send package or to travel to Røldal (30km) with bus NW180 or Arbuvollen (10km) also with bus NW180 for supermarket
- Ljosland (+/- 2727 km). Ljosland Fjellstove is open all year for accomodation and they sell some small food items
About 230km from Haukeliseter
- Eiken (+/- 2807km), Coop
About 100km from Ljosland
Rest of the route is on or close to roads with shops in Birkeland and Spangereid.
6. Poste Restante
It is possible to send resupply and gear packages to several shops and hotels that keep poste restante along the way. Some of the hotels require that you spend the night if they will keep your package – check and make an agreement on this before sending anything over.
List of poste restante points:
- Russenes post-i-butikk (Finmark)
- Maze post-i-butikk (Finmark)
- Thon Hotell (Finmark)
- Abisko Fjellstasjonen (Norrbotten)
- Sulitjelma post-i-butikk (Troms)
- Stekvasselv gård (Trøndelag)
- Tverelvnes Gård (Trøndelag)
- Nordli Post-i-butikk Skjelbredtunet (Trøndelag)
- Teveltunet (staffed private cabin) (Trøndelag)
- Vågå postkontor (Oppland)
- Stasjonsbygningen på Finse stasjon (Hedmark)
- Evje Extra
To cover for both autumn and winter conditions we will use our Primus Omnilite multifuel stove for this trip. Fuel is easy to find in Norway, though we will have to carry larger amounts of it because it is not always easy to get off the trail and into a town. At the start we will be relying on gas. Many cabins along popular trails become unstaffed during the fall and their shops close so it is not possible to buy gas canisters in the mountains at this time. Gas loses a lot of its output in cold temperatures and snow conditions. Hence, when winter hits, it is more practical to use liquid fuel. The Primus stove can burn anything, though the cleanest to use are white gas and unleaded petrol and this is what we will use. In autumn we will carry one medium-sized gas canister each, and in winter one can of 5l between refills.
Paper maps are costly and to buy them for the entire country would be a major post in the budget. We will mostly rely on printed maps from the following resources:
- Norway: Kartverket.no or Kartutskrift.no
- Finland: Halti Kilpisjärvi 1:50 000
- kartutskrift Finland
- Sweden: Fjällkartan BD6 Abisko-Kebnekaise-Narvik 1:100 000, Fjällkartan BD7, Sitasjaure-Ritsem 1:100 000, Fjällkartan BD 9 Padlejanta-Sulitjelma 1:100 000
- kartutskrift Sverige
One major advantage of printed maps is that they indicate weak ice on the mountain lakes. We’ll have to consider how safe we feel about our own judgement if whether or not we might use printed maps when there are many lakes to cross.
In addition to the maps we will also take a GPS with a detailed map from Norway installed (1:50000) and waypoints for the trail (available through “useful websites” below). We will also take a compass, which might be very useful for navigation in addition to the GPS in whiteout conditions.
As on any other extended outing in the backcountry it’s important to prepare for the worst and have a good insurance cover for the duration of the trip. After last year’s challenges to find insurance for the Great Himalaya Trail we have remained members of the Austrian Alpine Club and and will take out insurance through them for the crossing of Norway. As an Alpine Federation they cover backcountry and off-piste skiing activities, something that is excluded from many insurance policies. The standard duration of the insurance when you take a membership is 8 weeks. For any trips with a duration beyond this 8 week period it is possible to contact Alpenverein to extend the coverage or to do so online.
10. Search and Rescue
Search and rescue efforts in Norway are coordinated by the Red Cross and assisted by Sea King helicopters. For safety reasons we always carry an emergency beacon (SPOT) with us, so we can notify authorities in case of an emergency through the GEOS network.
We have costs for search and rescue included in our insurance. Just in case it can be good to send an email to Hovedredningssentralen with names, contact information, that we will walk the length of Norway, starting date, route, contact information to parents, link to SPOT and link to the blog.
11. Useful websites
Senorge.no for snow conditions, skiing conditions, precipitation and weather in all of Norway
www.yr.no for weather conditions and level of avalanche danger