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Hiking the Besseggen ridge

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Start
Memurubu (1008m).
Finish
Gjendesheim (995m).
Distance
15km.
Time
6hr.
Highest point
Besseggen ridge (1743m).
Maps
DNT produces an excellent map of the Jotunheimen in its1:50,000 series.
Transport
Nor-Way Bussekspress operates the Valdresekspressen (#160; 4–6 daily), which runs from Oslo to Sogndal, passing through Fagernes on the way. At Fagernes, change to the Nor-Way Bussekspress bus to Beitostølen (3 daily), where you change again for Gjendesheim (late June to early Sept; 2 daily). The boat from Gjendesheim to Memurubu is also seasonal (mid-June to mid-Sept; 6 daily; t61 23 85 09, wgjende.no).
Accommodation
Gjendesheim, full-service DNT hut; Memurubu, full-service private hut.

The hike

The one-day hike across the Jotunheimen’s Besseggen ridge high above Lake Gjende is one of Norway’s most popular excursions. Starting at the Memurubu jetty, the first part of the hike involves a stiff haul up to the base of the Besseggen ridge (2hr 30min), which is a good spot to take a break and enjoy the views over the surrounding wilderness before tackling the ridge itself. Thereafter, the thirty-minute scramble up to the peak of the ridge is very steep, with ledges that are, on occasion, chest high; you need to be moderately fit to negotiate them. In places, the ridge narrows to 50m with a sheer drop to either side, but you can avoid straying close to the edge by following the DNT waymark “T”s. The views are superlative, but the drops disconcerting – and a head for heights is essential. Beyond the peak of the ridge, the trail is less dramatic as you cross a couple of plateaus and clamber up the slopes in between before reaching the Veltløyfti gorge. Here, a slippery scramble with steep drops requires care, though the trail is well marked and the final destination, Gjendesheim, is clearly visible.

If you do the hike in the opposite direction to the route described here, you can return by boat to Gjendesheim in the evening, but you’ll have to calculate your speed accurately to meet the boat at Memurubu – and that isn’t easy. Whichever direction you take, be sure to confirm boat departure times before you set out, and check weather conditions too, as snow and ice can linger well into July.

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