Have you ever
Been upon the ridge of Gendin?
Fully half a mile it streches,
At the top as sheer and narrow
As a scythe-blade. Looking downward
Past the slopes and past the glaciers,
Past the grey ravines and gullies
Etither side you see the water
Wrapped in dark and gloomy slumber
Half a mile at least beneath you
Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt, transl. R. Farquharson Sharp
The ridge of Besseggen to the left in the background, between two lakes.
The mighty Besseggen, described by Ibsen and admired by generations of anonymous visitors. It is the Norwegian equivalent of Mecca; a place every Norwegian is supposed to visit at least once in his or her lifetime. It’s a place of stunning beauty, wild and yet so easily accessible that more the 30 000 hikers conquer it every year, causing the erosion of the trail and forming queues at bottlenecks.
Besseggen is a 900m long, 250m vertical meters high knife-edge ridge, starting at the altitude of 1350m. The edge allows amazing views of the snow-clad Jotunheimen mountains, the tallest mountain chain in Norway. Yet its biggest attraction is the view of the two lakes, the long, neon-green, fjord-like Gjende and the smaller, dark blue Bessvatnet. Looking down from the ridge makes many scramblers light-headed, but the scramble is not dangerous, as long as one has appropriate mountain shoes and a minimum of scrambling experience.
- Besseggen is accessed by a 2-3 hours hike along an easy high-mountain trail, starting either at its eastern end, Gjendesheim, or in the west, at Memurubu. Starting in the east will get you scramble down the ridge, not advisable if you are not comfortable with heights. Walking westward however will let you enjoy the views without the need to stop and look back. If you prefer to ascend along the ridge, board the ferry from Gjendesheim to Memurubu, and start walking from there. The whole trip is 18km long and takes 5-7 hours. Try to start early and walk fast to avoid queues at the ridge.
- Either you start or finish at Memurubu, you’ll have to take the ferry across the Gjende lake. The ticket costs NOK 100 one way, and the boat takes 25-35 min. It is possible to send your rucksack with the boat (NOK 40) and retrieve it on the other end of the trail. If you choose to do that on a rainy day, bear in mind that the rucksacks will be standing exposed to the elements both on board and on the pier. Information about the boats, as well as other practical infos, can be found on this webpage.
- It is possible to stay at both Gjendesheim lodge and Memurubu lodge; camping is allowed on both locations. Both lodges serve food; there is also a small shop and a cafe on Gjendesheim pier.
- Gjendesheim can be accessed by public bus or by private transport. The road is accessible for saloon cars.
- The season starts in June and ends in September. This is a high altitude hike, and the weather can change rapidly. Warm, wind- and waterproof clothes are therefore a must.
Trails in Norway are marked with a red T
Gjendesheim and its pier
Gjendesheim seen from above