Besseggen is a spectacular day-hike in Jotunheimen National Park located between the lakes Gjende and Bessvatnet. Besseggen is maybe one of the most popular day hikes in Norway and has cult status among Norwegians. One day in your life you have to climb the ridge of Besseggen. The season starts from June to mid-September depending on the year, and more than 30 000 hikers complete the hike. If you are doing the hike, first rule, is to stay on the trail! Due to heavy traffic, there has been severe erosion and destroyed vegetation. The DNT – Norwegian hiking Association are doing there best to repair the worst parts of the trail; the most important part is that people stay on the trail and not walk into fragile vegetation. Please, respect the nature!
On any excellent hiking, experience planning is vital to perform a good day of hiking
and did I mention the good weather?
I have provided some tips for hiking Besseggen, but also generally hiking in the mountains of Norway.
My Grandpa 78 years old, Besseggen in August 2018.
Remember if you see Norwegian’s in all ages doing the hike, and you think you can do the hike because this 78 old year grandpa is doing the hike, well think again. This grandpa has been hiking in the mountains since he was born and this is probably his 1100 hike of mountains being higher than 1000 meter. Know your capability! You need to be fit for the Besseggen hike; this is not the first hike you should do in the Norwegian mountains if you have never hiked before.
The hike is around 6-8 hours walking time; it takes quickly more if you are resting along the way, which you should do. Our family group on the Besseggen hike was running from the age 18 to 78 years old. We used 8 hours on the hike, which includes some small breaks along the trail. We have all been hiking mountains since our childhood, and we know when being on the mountain you have to find your rhythm of speed.
It is 900 meters elevation with up and downhill included. It will take time, especially since the trail is very stony. Thereby I recommend using hiking boots with solid soles that offer excellent grip and support. I warn you; when you think you are getting close to the finish line, you are not! That can be painful. Remember this is a Marathon of hiking!
What is the best hiking weather for Besseggen? The best weather is to not have rain, wind and neither 32 degrees and sun. The best hiking weather for being in the mountains is something around 10-22 degrees, a bit sunny or slightly cloudy and not to much wind. This weather will not make the hike to warm and neither too cold. If it is heavy wind sometimes, it’s not recommended to hike Besseggen. At September there are chances for having snow on your hike.
I recommend having at least two days in the area. In this way increasing the possibility of having good weather, when performing the hike to Besseggen. Remember that in the mountain, the weather conditions can change quickly, it can go from sunny to rainy in a couple of minutes. Please listen to advice from experienced hikers and local people. Do remember to pack for all weather changes when being in the mountains.
Weather Website for Norway
This point is critical, for having a pleasant day hiking in Besseggen. The first thing that needs to be arranged is proper hiking boots supporting your ankles and giving you form grip on those slippery rocks. Even do it’s summer, remember to bring wind and waterproof clothing because you are high up in the mountain the air is colder, and the wind is stronger. Another recommendation is to bring a change of wool in sweater and socks; the vital part stays dry and warm during the entire hike. Other things are a cap to cover the ear from the wind, gloves and a scarf, should all be in your backpack. Furthermore sunscreen, sunglasses, trash bags to toilet paper and other things, blister patches!
From 15 to 30-liter backpack should be great for this hike. If you start the hike late, bring a flashlight just in case.
Without food the Hero will not do, it is a Norwegian saying. Bring enough food and water, if you get empty of energy the hike will be your worst nightmare. Bring a sandwich, bananas, nuts, and chocolate to keep up your energy level. Low blood sugar is not fun when being in the mountains.
Toilet Information: There are not so many places you can sneak away to do either number 1 or 2. Remember that you need to plan a bit to make it happen. Many people are walking in the mountains; privacy is limited. I did find one big rock that I did hide behind and did my thing. Please bring your toilet paper back in your trash bag!!
When hiking Besseggen, there are two options for hiking. It depends on your preferences on how you want to do it.
The kinder option is to take the boat to Memurbu and walk back to Gjendesheim. The Memurbu option gives you independent of boat time, and by this, you can use all the time you need to perform the hike, without worrying to reach the last boat out. Another essential part of taking this route, especially if you are afraid of heights, is that you will climb the ridge uphill instead of downhill. The downside is that you walk with you back away from the famous view and have to turn around to enjoy the spectacular site.
Our family did this hike, and it was for sure the best option for us, including having some family members a bit afraid of the heights. Truth to be told, I was expecting worst. I felt safe doing the climb, the rocks where big and it was not straight down, but almost.
How to Hike the ridge of Besseggen
Hiking smart is all about listening to your body. Don’t push yourself. Go in a study speed of emotion, that works right for you and not for everyone else. If you need some extra time climbing that hill, that is fine. In the mountains, people have to take there time. Also, remember why do you do this hike? Is it because of the grand nature experience or is training trip? Take your time, stop, watch around, listen, see the flowers, and say hello to people.
Take breaks, sit down and maybe even remove your hiking shoes for 5-minutes and if you are very sweaty on your feet change socks. Do it before you have blisters. If you are starting to feel that blisters are on the way, put on blisters pads straight away and avoid that the skin is being ruptured.
If you know that you are taking the boat, pre-buy the boat tickets online.
On our way back down, which was way longer than we hoped.
If Besseggen is your dream hike, and you want some great pictures, my biggest advice is to take heaps of photos. It will probably be a long time until the next time you want to perform the hike again. Or at least a week. The light is beautiful and constantly changing, not easy for an amateur like me, but I got some good ones as well out of 300 photos.
Have yourself a cabin, or a tent or at least make sure that you have a base to return to when getting back from the hike. I do not recommend a long drive after this hike in the car. Most likely you will be drained of energy, and your legs are tired as hell. Hi, you made it! Now it’s time to eat and recover your energy for a more exciting adventure in Norway.
My family is finally making the family trip to Besseggen! After ten years of talking, haha.
Off The Beaten Track?
If think Besseggen sounds a bit crowdy, you are right! You will not be walking alone. There will probably be around 300-1000 other people crossing Besseggen that day with you. If you want another amazing day hike, you should check out Romsdalseggen which is close to the famous Geiranger Fjord and the Troll Road in Sunnmøre.
Other Cool Things to Read
How to Hike the ridge of Besseggen
Besseggen – The most spectacular hike in Jotunheimen
Rob Slade and his experience hiking Besseggen