Rock Climbing in the Lofoten Islands, Norway: What are the Best Spots?

Daniel DawsonDecember 23, 2018

Sitting just above the Arctic Circle and off the coast of northwestern Norway, the Lofoten Islands are an archipelago that stretches off the coast and branch out into the Norwegian Sea.

The islands have been populated for at least 11.000 years and have been admired for their natural beauty by foreigners for several centuries. Nowadays, the islands attract about one million tourists each year for a variety of activities.

Mountaineers and skiers have long flocked to the area for its pristine wilderness and empty mountain slopes. Rock climbing, too, has become immensely popular with the town of Henningsvær on Austvågøya serving as one of the main hubs.

Some of the first ascents were made here my European rock climbers in the earlier 1900s. They discovered the amazing views and pristine surfaces that have since made rock climbing one of the most popular summertime sports here.

The numerous mountains and fjords all around the island chain offer ample opportunities for many different types of rock climbing. There are no shortage of spots, each one just as scenic as the last.

A lot of planning goes into successfully executing a fun and thrilling Nordic rock climbing adventure, so we’ve taken the liberty of including a few useful facts and some other general information to aid you in booking your next summer holiday.

3 Reasons to go Rock Climbing in the Lofoten Islands

 

People have been headed to the Lofoten Islands to take in their natural beauty for more than 100 years. Photo courtesy of Pawel Karczmarczyk.

Stunning scenery

 

The Lofoten Islands are a unique and beautiful landscape, even within Norway. They are defined by their numerous mountains with slopes that run from seaside to summit, sheltered inlets and isolated tracts of wilderness. All of these characteristics make the islands an excellent spot for rock climbing.

Plenty of variety

 

Regardless of your preferred style or method of climbing, you’re sure to find something that you’ll enjoy in the Lofoten Islands. There are plenty of options for trad climbing – both single and multi-pitch – along with excellent alpine climbing and free climbing spots as well. Spend an afternoon crack climbing the Vestpillaren of the famed Presten or go out for a midnight quick multi-pitch climb of the Svolværgeita. The options are nearly endless.

The midnight sun

 

One of the highlights of any summertime trip above the Arctic Circle is experiencing the midnight sun. From mid-May to August the sun never really sets on the Lofoten Islands – just dips to the edge of the horizon before coming back up – which means that you can enjoy rock climbing at anytime.

Best rock climbing trips in the Lofoten

 

As the islands are composed of mountains and fjords, there are endless excellent climbing opportunities. Photo courtesy of Caroline George.

Free climb the Presten

 

Rising 500 meters above its surroundings, the western pillar of the Presten is an imposing presence. Towering over the Norwegian Sea and the small village of Henningsvær, it provides stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and makes for quite an intense free climb up along cracks of this pristine granite massif.

Rated as a US 5.10/ NO 6/ FR 6a+, this 14-pitch climb is perfect for advanced climbers seeking out a challenge. The overall climbing conditions are pretty good all the way up the rock, with most of it being quite secure and all but the eleventh pitch being pretty well protected.

Trad climb the Svolværgeita

 

Also known as ‘the goat’, the Svolværgeita is an iconic granite tower that rises high over the center of Lofoten. Widely considered one of the best climbs in the entire archipelago, the views of the surrounding sea, villages and mountains are unforgettable.

Getting to the top is a worthwhile challenge too. The multi-pitch climbing required to reach the top is completely doable for novice rock climbers, but there are also more challenging routes for advanced climbers. The entire trip up and back down takes between three and four hours and requires only basic trad climbing skills.

Alpine climb the North Ridge of Vågakallen

Situated right in the center of the archipelago, the Northern Ridge of the Vågakallen, makes for a fun and scenic day of alpine climbing. The top of the Vågakallen offers stunning views of the surroundings, which are composed of sea and panoramic mountain views.  

The climbing is something special too. The alpine climbing over varied but high-quality granite is world-class and makes for the perfect challenge for intermediate and advanced climbers. The day, overall, is quite challenging requiring a high-level of fitness as we traverse NO 4+ heights.

What is the best time to go there?

 

The two rock formations coming out of the the Svolværgeita look the like horns, hence its name, meaning ‘the goat’. Photo courtesy of Northern Alpine Guides.

The best time to come rock climbing on the Lofoten Islands is in the summer, which lasts from June to September. During this season average daily temperatures are quite cool, ranging from 9ºC to 13ºC.

However, during the summer is also when the sun stays out the longest in the Lofoten Islands. Around the summer solstice – from mid-May to August – the sun doesn’t even really set. By September, you can still enjoy 15 hours of sunshine each day.

Rain is not frequent during the summer, but also not uncommon. The islands get an average of about 85 mm per month during the summer months. However, even on sunny days storms can form quickly due to the unique location of the islands.

Therefore, it is always best to pack and dress for all types of weather, even on sunny days.

How much does it cost?

 

How much a rock climbing expedition to the Lofoten Islands costs depend on a few factors: how long you are going for, how many people you are going with and what is included in that price.

Generally speaking, a one-day rock climbing expedition in Lofoten will cost between 2.000 NOK (€200) to 5.000 NOK (€500) per person, with the lower end of the spectrum for people going in a group of two or more and the higher end being for a solo trip.

This price generally includes the guide fee and climbing equipment rental fee. The price generally does not include meals, accommodation, transportation or insurance.

However, every guide sets his or her prices differently. Be sure to ask your guide for a price quote prior to booking and double check with him or her what is included in that price.

How to get there?

 

Getting to Lofoten can be a bit tricky, but the effort is certainly worth it. Any trip to these scenic islands begins with a flight into the international airport in Oslo (OSL). From there, you will take a connecting flight to either the airport in Svolvær (SVJ) or Evenes (EVE).

Once you have arrived at these local airports, it’s a roughly 2.5 hour drive through some absolutely stunning scenery to get to Henningsvær, if you rent a car. There are some buses, but they do not run very frequently and take a bit longer.

Take advantage of the midnight sun and enjoy any of breakfast, lunch or dinner, while out on the rocks. Photo courtesy of Pawel Karczmarczyk.

What else to do in the Lofoten?

 

Since it takes quite a bit of effort to get all the way up to Lofoten, you might as well add a few other things to your itinerary in order to get the most out of your stay. Mountain biking and trekking are both quite popular options to get out and take advantage of all the daylight.

If you feel like coming back in the winter to see this majestic landscape during a different season, and possibly catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, then ski touring is also an excellent option.  


Discover the Lofoten Islands in the winter season! Check out our guide of the best spots for ski touring in Norway.


Whether this is your first or one-hundredth trip to the Lofoten Islands, you are sure to discover something new. Photo courtesy of Caroline George.

 

So what are you waiting for? Book now and make your next summer holiday a rock climbing trip to the Lofoten Islands!

 

 

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