Backpacking Lysefjord

Posted by Jake Brown on Jul 28th 2014

One of the blessings of our sport is that it can bring you to beautiful places and incredible views: mountains, snow, and more. Everywhere you turn your head, skiers are out in nature. It is in our blood to be outside; you might even say that it is our very nature. I'm no different. I took the chance, on a few off days from school, to embark on a backpacking trip.

I wanted to keep my training hours up, so I took a page out of my running teammates' book and "frontloaded" the week. I accumulated 10 hours in between Monday and Wednesday. Then on Wednesday night, our journey began. I traveled with Chase Watson, a friend of mine here at the international summer school and a backcountry skier from Spokane. Clear skies allowed us to see everything that Norway has to offer during the greatest 30 minute flight I've ever experienced: the city lights, fjords, mountains, dense forest, and rocky plateaus. I looked straight out the window from takeoff to touchdown.

After an interesting night of camping in a small patch of woods (most likely in a backyard) in Stavanger, a fjord-gateway city that lies in the western part of Norway, we met up with two other friends from the summer school. We caught a ferry to Lysefjord. Lysefjord is the home of two popular hikes in Norway. Prekestolen ("the preacher's chair") is a huge protruding cliff overlooking the fjord, and Kjeragbolten, a rock stuck between to giant cliffs. On our four-day trip, we hiked up Prekestolen and continued along the ridge overlooking Lysefjord. Then down to the 100-person town at the end of the fjord called Lysebotn (which will actually host a sweet professional uphill rollerski race on July 31st- keep an eye out for it!). We finally caught a ride up the winding road that will host the rollerski race course (wish I could've skied instead). After completing Kjeragbolten, we caught the ferry back to Stavanger.

Kjeragbolten was certainly a highlight. Whereas most hikers spend the night down in Lysebotn before taking to the mountain the next morning, we backpacked halfway to the rock during the night and camped in a truly gorgeous valley. The next morning we were the first ones to Kjeragbolten. The sight was incredible: 300-foot cliffs straight down to the fjord. We all sat on the rock and enjoyed eating the best apples of our lives.

The cliffs around Lysebotn are some of the best B.A.S.E. jumping locations in the world. We spent Sunday night watching the World Cup final at the one place to get food in Lysebotn, Olav's pub. The pub doubles as a campground and a B.A.S.E. jumper hangout. Dan, a B.A.S.E. jumper from Australia who is known to his jumping buddies as "Gravy," told us everything we wanted to know about the sport and more. I thought that he was just a bit crazy, but when we watched guys and girls in squirrel suits jump off the cliffs at halftime of the Germany-Argentina standoff, B.A.S.E. jumping became a lot more exciting than soccer!

Backpacking can be good training, especially when it involves climbing up and down steep grades. If I'm trekking with other people I just try to make sure to take the food, or at least the tent, you know, to weigh down the pack a bit; put the team on your back!

The start of the Kjeragbolten hike doubled as the finishline of the Icebug RockMan Swim-Run, a crazy distance duathlon which was completed by the winning team of two in over ten hours.

We tried to sleep underneath this boulder up on the mountainside, but got eaten by mosquitoes. So we sought the shelter of our tent instead, but took a picture anyway.


On the way to Kjeragbolten. The valley to the right is the most beautiful place I have ever camped.
Chase climbing up the ridge around the valley as the sun begins its 4 hour process of setting.
Kjeragbolten. The gap below goes all the way down to the fjord! This is one of the few times I felt allowed to put up "The Big O" for the St. Olaf Cross-Country team. Go Oles!
Christian, a B.A.S.E. jumper from Denmark, aims for Olav's trampoline and a free beer (he was unsuccessful, but watching his jump was much more entertaining than the world cup).


-Posted by Jake Brown on Jul 28th 2014