Ice climbing in Norway: What are the Best Spots?

Daniel DawsonMarch 18, 2019

Boasting a landscape that has been carved by ice, Norway is logically one of the best places you could venture out to for an epic ice climbing expedition.

The western and northernmost country in Scandinavia spent thousands of years under a thick glacier during the Ice Age. As the planet warmed and the glacier receded, it carved out the deep valleys and iconic coastal fjords, for which the country is famous.

 

Can you imagine any nicer scenery in which to climb? Photo courtesy of Jørn Knustad.

Any ice climbing trip will take you through some of this history as you will be bound to venture through these valleys and fjords, heading up exquisite ice and waterfalls ranging from a few meters in height to a few dozen.

Along the way you will get to see and enjoy some sights that are incredibly rare anywhere else in the world, from the colourful ice falls around Rjukan to the Northern Lights illuminating the sky.

Before you begin planning your next ice climbing holiday in Norway, take a look at some of the useful facts and information that we have compiled below:

Top 3 reasons to go ice climbing in Norway

 

The colourful ice in Rjukan is just one of a number of amazing sights you’ll see while ice climbing in Norway. Photo courtesy of Jørn Knustad.

1| Stunning scenery

Norway is an exceptionally beautiful country and one of the best ways to experience this stunning place to its fullest is by heading out ice climbing. Not only will ice climbing take you to scenic locales, such as Hardangervidda National Park and the Lofoten Islands, but it will also give you a view from above.

See deep green coniferous forests, stunning ocean views as well as mountainous panoramas all from above.

2| World-class climbing

From famed fjords to glaciers and the numerous frozen waterfalls that dot the landscape, there is plenty of ice climbing to be done in Norway. Take advantage of hundreds of different spots ranging from right outside Oslo to the tip top of the country.

Whether you are a beginner or expert, there is something for you here. Norway is both the perfect place to learn this exhilarating outdoor sport as well as challenge yourself and test your skills.

3| The Northern Lights

Heading to Norway for any type of winter outdoor activity means you will almost certainly have the option to see the Northern Lights. From November to March, they are quite prevalent throughout the country, but your likelihood of seeing them increases along with your latitude.

If you don’t see them on the first night, don’t be disheartened, depending on the weather you may have to wait a week or so, but when you see them you’ll realize the wait was certainly worthwhile.

Where to go? Best ice climbing spots in Norway

1| Rjukan

Located just 175 kilometers west of the capital, Oslo, Rjukan is a popular and easily accessible ice climbing location for climbers of every level.

Sitting on the outskirts of Hardangervidda National Park, you’ll be sure to enjoy excellent scenery as you hike and climb through the ice.

The area also boasts more than 150 icefalls and frozen waterfalls, meaning there are icefalls that everyone can enjoy here as well as plenty to go around. It is highly unlikely that you will need to share the ice with anyone at all.

Ranging from a few meters tall to dozens of meters high, Rjukan is the perfect place to find exactly what you want to climb and do it. You’ll also have the opportunity to work your way up to a more advanced level as you learn.

While it may not sound as glamorous as popular ice climbing spots farther north, Rjukan also has coloured ice, which is something you surely won’t see in many other places!


IN BRIEF:

  • How to get there: From Oslo, Rjukan is a 2.5 hour drive via the Fv37 or a 3 hour bus ride using the NW180 or NX1 and the NW185.
  • Difficulty level: Easy to Advanced

2| Lofoten Islands

Challenge yourself with some mixed rock and ice climbing up in the Lofoten Islands. Photo courtesy of Northern Alpine Guides.

Situated way up in Nordland, almost as far north as you can possibly go in Norway, the Lofoten Island archipelago boasts a long history of ice climbing and numerous places in which to do it.

With quaint fishing villages located on the seashore and imposing, ice-covered mountains, surrounding them, it is little wonder the islands are considered one of the most scenic spots in all of Norway.

It is within these mountains that you will find a plethora of icefalls and frozen waterfalls just waiting to be climbed. In fact, some of the world’s longest frozen waterfalls may also be found here and promise a real challenge for any advanced climber willing to give them a go.

Otherwise, intermediate climbers should be perfectly comfortable exploring the archipelago, ascending various other icefalls and ice walls. There are even some spots for beginners as well, though they are fewer and farther between.


IN BRIEF:

  • How to get there: From Oslo, take a domestic flight to the Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE) in Evenes then transfer via bus or shuttle to your starting point.
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate to Advanced

3| Narvik

Combine ice climbing with winter alpine climbing and reap the rewards of amazing views. Photo courtesy of Marius Larsen.

Sitting just east of the Lofoten Islands is yet another incredibly scenic and varied ice climbing locale, Narvik.

Offering many varied multi-pitch routes up both inclined slopes and steep waterfalls, Narvik is a haven for first-time climbers as well as advanced ones, and everyone in between. With easy access to the Lofoten Islands as well, there are nearly endless opportunities for adventure.

There are simple and short climbs right by the road, which give novices a chance to learn the sport. There are also long and involved climbs that are perfect for advanced climbers looking for a challenge, including some of the tallest frozen waterfalls in the world.

Take a week or more to explore the various spots that may be found here. Check out the fjords around Andørja for an adventure with a view. Venture farther inland to make some alpine climbing ascents in the valleys of Spansdalen or Sørdalen, which are a bit farther in land.

If you’re really feeling up for an adventure, head out to the Abisko and climb up one of the icy routes to the top of the plateau that separates Norway from neighboring Sweden. There really is no shortage of climbing to be found here.


IN BRIEF:

  • How to get there: From Oslo, take a domestic flight to the Harstad/Narvik Airport (EVE) in Evenes then transfer via bus or shuttle to your starting point.
  • Difficulty level: Easy to Advanced

What is the best time for ice climbing in Norway?

Most guides offer ice climbing trips throughout Norway from November until March.

During this time of year temperatures are generally well below freezing, sometimes getting as low as -15 °C, especially farther north in the country.

During the heart of winter, from December until February, darkness prevails throughout the country, especially above the Arctic Circle.

While you will get to enjoy some hours of sunshine at certain times of year, snow is not uncommon. You will more likely be climbing in the twilight hours when the sun is closest to the horizon.

All kinds of base-based adventures await you in the wonderful wilderness of Norway. Photo courtesy of Marius Larsen.

 

So what are you waiting for? Combine stunning scenery with some amazing ascents in diverse and varied places when you book your next ice climbing trip to Norway!

 

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