The Lofoten Islands are a rugged chain of mountainous islands off the west coast of northern Norway, rising abruptly from the sparkling blue waters of the Norwegian Sea. It really is one of the more unique and beautiful climbing areas you will ever visit.
Located north of the Arctic Circle, during the height of the summer climbing season you can climb all day without a headlamp, sometimes in the direct rays of the midnight sun. The islands do catch a lot of storms from different directions and some rain should be expected on any extended visit. That said, the weather can also be sunny and warm for extended periods of time, and most of the rock dries very quickly after rain. Still air seems to be rare - there is almost always anything ranging from a slight breeze to fairly solid wind - this also helps to dry the rock after rain.
The rock is granite, but don't expect the sort of granite that you might find in Yosemite. If I had to pick a place in the U.S., I'd say the rock reminded me most of the more solid rock in Rocky Mountain National Park (which I know, is not granite). It is generally very solid, but even though it is at sea level, it is an alpine environment and you will encounter some occasional looseness. However, most of the popular routes are very clean. There are also pretty big alpine climbs which will offer a completely different experience. The climbing in Lofoten ranges from single pitch routes, to short multi pitch climbs (2-4 short pitches - a lot of the climbs fall into this category), long free routes like those on Presten, to moderate alpine ridges, to serious alpine walls.
For such a remote location, the routes can get crowded. Expect lines on popular classics like "Vestpillaren" and "Bare Blabaer". The guidebook uses a quality rating system from no stars to 3 stars, and also uses a "Top 50" category for 50 routes routes that the authors consider the classics. If you get away from the Top 50 routes, it is very easy to avoid queuing up for routes.
The guidebook, "Lofoten Rock" by Chris Craggs and Thorbjorn Enevold, is published by Rockfax (UK) and is very well organized and written entirely in English. It is hard to come by in the U.S. and expensive. It can be purchased in Lofoten from the shop in Henningsvaer.
Lofoten is a long way from most places, which is part of its charm. In some locations on the islands, you really get the feeling that you're at the end of the Earth.
The truth is, although it takes time and can be expensive, it really isn't that hard to get to Lofoten. The islands are accessible by road, ferry, or plane. The hardest part may be choosing a travel option that suits your budget and plan. The main town that you are trying to reach is Svolvaer. Although not completely necessary, having a car is very helpful in Lofoten. A lot of the climbing is a short walk from the main camping area near Hennigsvaer. But if you want to explore the rest of the islands, get groceries, or climb in some of the areas outside of Henningsvaer, you will want a car.
Everything in Norway is expensive. Fortunately in Lofoten, the camping is the one part of your trip that will not put a strain on your wallet - its free. Most climbers camp in the area off of the road beneath the Gandalf Wall near Henningsvaer. Clean drinking water is available at the site, however toilets and trash cans are not. The camping is beautiful though - roadside camping right along the water, a stones throw from the crags.
Groceries are available in Henningsvaer (which although it appears close, is still about a 40 minute walk from the camping area). The best bet for groceries is to drive into Svolvaer where there are bigger stores. Beer can be purchased in grocery stores during limited hours. Anything else (wine, etc.) needs to be purchased from the state run store in Svolvaer. For camping stoves, you will not find white gas or the little green Coleman propane canisters. Bring a stove that uses butane/propane canisters.
14 Total Routes
['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',10],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in Lofoten
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Lofoten :
Featured Route For Lofoten
Vestpillaren 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Europe
: ... : Presten
The most famous and sought after route in Lofoten, and likely one of the better long 5.10 free climbs you will ever do. A short approach, pitch after pitch of fun and varied climbing, all on a clean granite wall rising above the emerald waters of the Norwegian Sea. Justifiably, the route is popular and it is not uncommon to see a party on almost every pitch on a sunny afternoon. But during midsummer, you can climb it at any time of the day or night so with the right strategy you can still avo...[more] Browse More Classics in International
Latest Regional Forum Messages
Viking museum not far from Lofoten, definitely wor...
viking ships at the museum
|By Carol Kotchek|
From: Louisville, Colorado
Aug 28, 2010
There is also free camping near Kalle, a small village located between Svolvaer and Henninsgvaer. The camping here seemed much more sheltered then the camping near Hennigsvaer. There is a toilet at this camping area but I have heard it is overused. A car is a must if you camp here.
| || Free camping at Kalle with Storpillaren and Alkoholveggen in the background |
|By Carol Kotchek|
From: Louisville, Colorado
Aug 28, 2010
We stayed in a small cabin at the campground Orsvagvaer. About $80 per night split between 2 of us. The cabin had 4 bunks, a small table and chairs, fridge, hot plate, and heater. There was a larger communal kitchen to use if we wanted more elaborate meals. Showers at the main building were included along with Wi Fi and a communal computer. To learn more go to www.orsvag.no
| || Small cozy cabin at Orsvagaer |
| || Typical scene, checking the weather report on the i phone |