Climbing Stetind in Norway: What you Need to Know

Daniel DawsonFebruary 11, 2019

Situated in the center of Norway’s northern region of Nordland, the Stetind stands out in a stark but sublimely beautiful landscape.

Rising up to 1.392 meters above sea level, it is far from Norway’s tallest mountain, but is one of its most iconic. The peak was named as Norway’s national mountain after an informal poll in 2002 and the moniker has stuck.

Part of its popularity comes from its legendary status among mountaineers and the peak attracts many climbers every year. In fact, with its two routes of varying technical difficulty, mountaineering and rock climbing to the summit of the peak are both possible.

The Stetind is also renowned for its difficulty. The first attempt to climb it was back in 1888 by German mountaineer, Paul Güssfeldt, and the Norwegian Arctic explorer, Martin Ekroll. They did not make it to the summit.

Carl Hall, a Danish mountaineer, and Mathias Soggemoen, a Norwegian mountaineer, attempted the summit the following year. They too failed, but built the cairn that now guides climbers to the top of the Halls fortopp, one of the peak’s minor summits.

Stetind was not successfully climbed until 1910, when two Norwegians and a Swede —  Ferdinand Schjelderup, Alf Bonnevie Bryn and Carl Wilhelm Rubenson — finally made it to the summit by what is now known as the Normal Route.

Since then, tens of thousands of climbers have followed in their footsteps, while others pioneered their own route to the summit via the South Pillar.

Will you be the next to add your name to the list of successful mountaineers and rock climbers who have made it to the summit? We’ve compiled a list of facts and useful information to help you make that decision.

Starting Point & How to Get There

 

Approaching the summit via the final ridge line on the Normal Route. Photo: Rune Dahl, courtesy of Magnus Strand.

Most guides will either meet you for this climbing expedition in the Stetind parking lot or the nearby city of Narvik.

In order to get to Narvik, you will need to take a connecting flight from the Oslo Airport (OSL) to the Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE) in Evenes. From here, you can take a bus to Narvik, which is the closest major settlement in the region to Stetind.

From Narvik, Stetind parking lot is about an hour away in a rental car and the drive, which winds along some of the region’s fjords, is incredibly scenic. However, it can also be reached by bus on the Bodø or Narvik line.  

Some guides also offer transport, either included in the price of the trip or at an additional cost.

Duration of the Ascent

 

From bottom to top and back again, the entire ascent of the Stetind takes less than one day. Both routes will take between 10 and 14 hours, albeit with different amounts of climbing involved in each one.

The Normal Route involves about six hours of hiking and four hours of climbing, while the Southern Pillar involves a couple hours of hiking, but mostly climbing for 10 to 12 hours.    

Climbing Routes  

Normal Route

 

While it does not require much technical climbing, the Normal Route is still quite a challenging ascent. Photo: Rune Dahl, courtesy of Magnus Strand.

The Normal Route to the summit of Stetind is the most popular one and also requires less technical rock climbing skills.

The route begins with a brief approach along a small stream and birch forest directly bordering the Stetind parking lot. You will then arrive at the top of a moraine that sits about 100 meters above an iceberg-filled lake.

From here, you will follow a series of cairns over some boulders to a large cairn, which sits at the foot of a gully line. Once you’ve arrived here, you will begin ascending toward the Hall fortopp, which is the eastern minor summit on the peak.

The going is pretty easy at the beginning, but gets tougher closer to the first summit, involving some scrambling toward this first summit.  

From the Halls fortopp, you will tie into ropes and climb up to the proper summit, which takes about four hours and is not too technically difficult.

The most difficult part is at the Mysosten block, which is also known as the ‘fingers traverse’, and involves a four-meter climb diagonally along a crack in the cliff face. It is quite difficult but completely doable. After this, you will return to normal climbing until you reach the summit.

Once you have finished enjoying the view and are ready to return, you will abseil back down to the Mysosten block and then climb back down the ropes up which you ascended.

Here are our most popular trips along the Normal Route:

Guided Stetind ascent in northern Norway

Stetind normal route rock climbing trip

Southern Pillar

 

Climbing up one of the various grooves en route to the summit via the South Pillar route. Photo courtesy of Marius Larsen.

The Southern Pillar route begins with the same hike as the normal route, but diverges after you reach the large cairn along the gully line.

From here, instead of beginning your ascent, you will find another set of cairns leading off on a horizontal ledge system. You will follow these ledges to a snow bowl and continue following the same line of cairns until you reach the South Pillar proper.   

The climb up the South Pillar is very technical and physical as well. You will need to ascend 14-pitches, many of which are rated a Norwegian 4 to 5 (UIAA IV to V), but some of which go all the way up to a Norwegian grade 6 (UIAA VI+).

The first 150 meters of the ascent involve climbing up steep and sleek slabs of granite, along a groove. You will then need to belay down into a right-leaning groove before you undercling into the groove and belay again onto a second ledge under a bigger and steeper groove.

From here, you will traverse horizontally around the ledge and belay onto a smaller ledge. This is followed by another groove system climb before belaying to the foot of a flared bomb-bay chimney.

You will then climb the chimney followed by some crack and slab climbing until you reach a third big ledge, then climb up a 40-meter pillar and past an old piton to a belay ledge at the top of the pillar.

Next, you will continue climbing up along cracks along another large block until you reach a right-slanting groove. You will then climb the groove until you reach a ledge, which leads to a gully that you follow to the summit.

After you’ve had your fill of the top, you will descend via the Normal Route back to the parking lot.

Here is our most popular trip up the South Pillar route:

Stetind South Pillar 1-day climbing trip

Physical Requirements and Technical Difficulties

 

Making sure you are in great physical condition prior to your ascent increases your chances of success. Photo courtesy of Marius Larsen.

Regardless of which route you choose, both routes up the Stetind are quite difficult and take an entire day of climbing and hiking to complete.

The Normal Route is slightly easier because it does not require much technical climbing ability, but does require some rock climbing skills. Previous alpine and rock climbing experience is not required, but highly recommended. This route is rated as a Norwegian grade 4+ (UIAA IV).

The South Pillar, on the other hand, is a great challenge for the experienced climbers. It is rated as a Norwegian grade 6 (UIAA VI+) and requires hiking as well as scrambling over exposed terrain.

Regardless of the route up which you choose to climb, you will need to be in top physical condition. Most guides recommend preparing for six months prior to this climb. They recommend that you combine a fitness regimen that includes various strength and endurance exercises, including the following:

  • Climbing conditioning – this includes carrying 15-kilograms packs on uphill hikes as well as doing stair climbing exercises.  
  • Strength training – this includes exercises that strengthen your lower body and core, such as squats and crunches using weights, in the months leading up to your ascent.
  • Cardiovascular training – this includes both aerobic and anaerobic exercises with weights in order to improve your lung capacity and strengthen your heart.
  • Flexibility training – this includes stretching before and after each of these types of exercises in order to keep your muscles limber and prevent injury.

Weather Conditions

 

The best time of year to climb Stetind is during the Norwegian summer, from July until September. During this time of year in Nordland, average daily temperatures are quite cool, ranging from 9ºC to 13ºC.

However, the summer is a great time of year for climbing Stetind because of the midnight sun. During July and August, the sun barely sets due to the mountain’s high latitude. In September, you can still expect to receive about 15 hours of sunshine each day.

During the summer, rain is not frequent, with the region averaging about 80 millimeters of rain each month. However, summer squalls are also not uncommon, so it is best to come prepared with clothing for all types of weather.  

Equipment

 

While it is far from the tallest mountain in Norway, the Stetind rises right from sea level, so it certainly looks like a long way down. Photo: Rune Dahl, courtesy of Magnus Strand.

In order to successfully climb Stetind, or any mountain for that matter, it is also best to come prepared.

Guides who have climbed the mountain, recommend you bring the following equipment, some of which the guide may provide. However, not every guide does, so this is important to check with the guide prior to booking what is included in the price of the trip.

  • Camera and extra batteries
  • Climbing pants
  • Climbing shoes
  • Fleece or windbreaker
  • Gloves: both outer gloves and liner gloves
  • Harness
  • Helmet
  • Hiking boots
  • Raincoat and rain pants
  • Rope
  • Sun hat and knit woolen cap
  • Sun screen, sunglasses and lip balm
  • Trekking poles
  • Winter jacket (preferably made of Gortex)

Estimated Price

 

Mountaineering and rock climbing expeditions to the summit of the Stetind generally cost between €350 to €675 per person and depend on several factors, including which route you are taking, what is included in the price and how many people are going.

The low end of this range is generally for groups of two or three and includes the guide fee as well as equipment fees. These trips will be slightly more expensive for solo adventurers.

The higher end of the price spectrum is generally for solo climbers and those climbing the South Pillar. These trips generally include the guide fee, equipment costs and the guide’s expenses.

However, every guide prices their trips differently, so be sure to double check with him or her prior to completion of booking.

 

The views from the summit of the Stetind are spectacular and well worth the challenge of getting to the top. Photo courtesy of Marius Larsen.

 

So what are you waiting for? Book your next mountaineering or rock climbing adventure to the summit of the legendary Stetind today and get ready ready for the challenge of the summer!

 

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