Ascending Norway’s Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen)

When I found out I’d be doing some trekking while in Norway, it was hard not to think of my past experience trekking in Nepal and be a little concerned. I had learned the hard way that trekking was not for me. Especially in the rain. Preconceptions aside, I was willing to give it another go. Especially because this wasn’t just any trek, this was the trek to Norway’s Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock. The iconic fjord overlook that graces the cover of countless Norway guidebooks and travel magazines. I wanted to stand in that place, and I was willing to do what was necessary to get there.

Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock, is one of the most recognizable spots in Norway and often graces the cover of guidebooks. This image courtesy of Visit Norway.

The Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock, is one of the most recognizable spots in Norway and often graces the cover of guidebooks. This image courtesy of Visit Norway.

The trek to Pulpit Rock begins just outside the Norwegian city of Stavanger and is easily accessible by car. The hike itself it supposed to take two hours but of course can be longer or shorter given your level of physical fitness. I didn’t have high expectations for myself. When we started it was raining pretty hard and there I was wearing the exact same rain jacket I had worn in Nepal.

This way to Preikestolen!

This way to Preikestolen!

I decided I wasn’t going to let myself be pressured by the pace of others. It wasn’t long before I had broken away from the group and was hiking on my own. The hike had its hard parts but it also had its extremely easy parts. The terrain seemed to alternate between piles of boulders and totally flat boardwalks stretched out in open fields. After the first 25% of the hike I decided I was fine by myself and stopped rushing. After 50% I picked up the pace a little bit as I got more comfortable and by 75% I had caught up with our group’s leaders and we ended up finishing the hike together.

This diagram gives a rough idea of just what the ascent is like.

This diagram gives a rough idea of just what the ascent is like.

Although primarily uphill, the alternating terrain keeps the trek interesting and stops you from getting too tired out. When you do need a break, there are plenty of places to stop without being in the way, many with incredible views. The unusual boardwalks seem to offer the perfect cool down just when you really need a break.

Sometimes the terrain is like this...

Sometimes the terrain is like this…

...sometimes like this...

…sometimes like this…

...and unfortunately sometimes like this.

…and unfortunately sometimes like this.

The rain made for a lousy ascent but as I reached the summit it seemed the Norse Gods were rewarding me for my effort. Grey skies slowly cleared and as we walked out onto Pulpit Rock the view of the fjord nearly 2,000 feet below and surrounding mountains was nothing short of spectacular.

It's hard to appreciate just how high and how sheer this 2,000 foot cliff face really is.

It’s hard to appreciate just how high and how sheer this 2,000 foot cliff face really is.

Celebrating our successful trek to Pulpit Rock

Celebrating our successful trek to Pulpit Rock

In Norway, respect for nature and personal responsibility are of paramount importance. Norwegians don’t tarnish their natural landmarks with a bunch of safety barriers or sacrifice their authenticity by making them overly accessible. There’s no alternate way to reach Pulpit Rock, no cable car or funicular. To stand on that precipice you need to have earned it. In exchange for that effort, the experience of being there becomes far more rewarding than simply stepping out of a tour bus, admiring the view and being on your way. I can’t wait to do it again.

Victory photo just as the sky was starting to clear.

Victory photo just as the sky was starting to clear.

One without me ruining the view.

One without me ruining the view.

Have you ever hiked the Preikestolen or anywhere else in Norway? Tell me about it in the comments.

 

Like it? Share it!
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUpon0Buffer this pageEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest4

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Google+