Galdhøpiggen Hiking Guide (Multiple Hiking Options + Tips)

Galdhøpiggen is Norway’s highest mountain with the top being 2,469 meters above sea level. Despite being the very tallest mountain in all of Northern Europe, it’s not that difficult to ascent, and most people are able to hike to the top of Galdhøpiggen. So make sure to read the Galdhøpiggen travel guide if you are interested in learning about ascending the peak of the mountain.

The incredible mountain is located in the amazing Jotunheimen National Park, which is filled to the brim with dramatic mountains that look like they belong on a different planet.

Galdhøpiggen in Jotunheimen in summer. Photo by Atvelonis / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Hiking routes to Galdhøpiggen

There are four different hiking routes to get to Galdhøpiggen, but regular hikers are advised to stick to the first two options. The latter two are OK options if you want a special challenge, but are far more difficult than the first two and require special mountain climbing gear.

So, let’s take a closer look at the different options you got if you want to ascent Galdhøpiggen in Jotunheimen.

Option 1) Juvasshytta over Styggebreen glacier to Galdhøpiggen (Most popular route – requires a guide)

Difficulty: Difficult.

Estimated time: 6 – 8 hours.

Total elevation: 628 meters.

The hike from Juvasshytta to the peak of Galdhøpiggen is by far the most common one, and it’s actually only a 5 kilometer hike. The hike itself begins at the DNT mountain cabin called Juvasshytta at 1,841 meters above sea level.

This starting point can be reached by car or bus, and leaves only around 600 meters of elevation to the top.

Despite only being around 5 kilometers, expect to spend 3 – 4 hours to get to the top, then an additional 2 – 3 hours to get back down. It’s a pretty long hike, but doable by anyone with some decent hiking shoes.

An important thing about this route is that you have to cross a glacier called Styggebreen. This is actually pretty dangerous to do by yourself, so you will need a guide to pass the glacier.

Crossing the Styggebreen glacier

You can book a guide for crossing the Styggebreen glacier at Juvasshytta’s website here. It will cost 380 NOK per adult and 330 NOK per child, and include a 45 minute glacier walk to get over it each way.

The crossing itself is pretty easy. The guide prepares ropes where a long line of people are roped together. This is a safety measurement to prevent anyone from falling in the pits and crevasses in the glacier.

The glacier crossing is considered very safe when done with proper equipment and a guide, but dangerous if you should attempt to cross it alone without glacier crossing experience.

Crossing the glacier without a guide could potentially be fatal. There are examples of fatal accidents from people who have tried to cross the glacier on their own.

Styggebreen glacier with Galdhøpiggen in the back
Styggebreen glacier with Galdhøpiggen in the back. Photo published with permission.

The hike is considered to be classified as difficult because it has certain parts where it’s difficult to walk, you need to cross a glacier, and it requires a lot of stamina and proper hiking equipment.

Option 2) Spiterstulen to Galdhøpiggen (Most popular without a guide)

Difficulty: Difficult.

Estimated time: 9 – 12 hours.

Elevation: 1,100 meters.

If you don’t want to cross the glacier, hiking from the Spiterstulen mountain lodge is your best option. This mountain lodge is accessed from the same road as Juvasshytta (just a bit further down), so it’s easy to get to.

The elevation is over 1,100 meters, so you need to be fit to handle it. The distance is around 13 kilometers each way.

The hike itself is actually pretty easy, but it takes a long time for inexperienced hikers. Just keep hiking, and you will get to the top eventually. You should be aware that there are two “fake peaks” where you might think that you make it to the top, only to be greeted by another, hidden peak further up.

The trail has many stony parts with loose rocks, so be very careful about attempting this in rainy weather when the rocks get slippery. Take an extra look at the weather forecast before you leave for the hike.

The nice thing about this route is that you don’t need a guide, so you don’t have to pay anything to get to the top.

Spiterstulen mountain lodge
Spiterstulen mountain lodge in Jotunheimen. Photo by Havardtl / CC BY-SA 4.0.

The hike is considered to be classified as difficult because it has certain parts where it’s difficult to walk, and it requires a lot of stamina and proper hiking equipment.

Option 3) Geitsætre from the western approach (If you don’t want crowds)

Difficulty: Very difficult.

Estimated time: 12 hours.

Elevation: 1,500 meters.

If you don’t want to be bothered by the crowds that often form on the two main routes to Galdhøpiggen, going from the west can be a good option. This is a much longer hike that will require glacier crossings, so it’s best attempted with a guide.

I only recommend this route for very experienced hikers that know what they’re doing!

Option 4) Ymmelstinden -> Storjuvtinden -> Galdhøpiggen ridge hike (For mountain climbers)

Difficulty: Extremely difficult.

Estimated time: N/A.

If you think that the ascent to Galdhøpiggen itself is too easy, what about climbing Ymmelstinden (2304m) first, then following the ridge to Storjuvtinden (2344m), and finally follow it to Galdhøpiggen?

This is a classic route for mountaineers who want a challenge, but this is not for regular hikers. The route will require tools and skills for small parts of rock climbing, as well as safety ropes for most of the hike.

The hike itself begins from Styggebreen, and instead of heading to Galdhøpiggen after crossing the glacier, head to Ymmelstinden.

Why you should climb Norway’s tallest mountain Galdhøpiggen

Climbing to the peak of the tallest mountain in Northern Europe is really something special, and this achievement in itself is well worth the trip to Jotunheimen to ascent Galdhøpiggen. The entire area is a hiker’s paradise, with some of the most dramatic and incredible nature in all of Norway.

Many consider Galdhøpiggen to be a rite of passage in the hiking community, and you will definitely get some bragging rights by having climbed the highest mountain in Norway.

The entire hike is very beautiful, giving a great view of pristine mountain ecosystems in Norway. It’s really something magic about the place!

View from Store Tverrbottentinden with Galdhøpiggen in the back cc
View from Store Tverrbottentinden with Galdhøpiggen in the back. Photo by Frankemann / CC BY-SA 3.0.

The top of the summit

The summit of Galdhøpiggen has an incredible view, and you can see roughly 25 % of all the land mass of Norway in a clear and sunny day!

There’s a small cabin owned by Juvasshytta on top. This cabin sell snacks, coffee, tea, hot dogs, soft drinks, chocolate and souvenirs like t-shirts, coffee mugs, diplomas and a Galdhøpiggen pin. There are tables to sit at inside if you need to get your warmth back.

Cabin at top of Galdhøpiggen cc
Cabin at top of Galdhøpiggen in Jotunheimen National Park. Photo by Marcin Szala / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Galdhøpiggen hiking season

Jotunheimen is known to have a short hiking season due to early snowfall in the fall, and late snowmelting in the spring. This leaves a short hiking season, and the main hiking season to Galdhøpiggen is between June 15 and August 15.

It’s typically possible to do the hike all the way from June 1 to September 15, but the tails of the seasons are a bit more challenging and unpredictable. If you want to be sure that you can make the hike, book the trip for the main season.

It’s also possible to ascent Galdhøpiggen by cross-country ski in the winter, and the season for this is from October to April.

Preparing for a hike to Galdhøpiggen: What to wear and what to bring

Even though anyone that are decently fit can hike to Galdhøpiggen, you should do some preparations before hiking to minimize your chances of injuries and problems.

There are many travelers who need to be helped down from the mountain by volunteer rescue crews every single year. These tourists are often too tired to keep going, got an injury like a sprained ankle or simply get lost (which is pretty difficult to do in my opinion).

So buy some decent hiking equipment and make sure that you know that you will be able to handle a 6+ hour hike before attempting to ascent Galdhøpiggen.

Normal hiking equipment and clothing are fine, but it’s very important to have good hiking boots. There are several patches of loose rocks that you need to hike on, and these have a high chance of giving you an injury if you got the wrong shoes.

And remember, bring waterproof clothing. You should not do this hike in a t-shirt and jeans!

Galdhøpiggen in Jotunheimen from aerial view
Galdhøpiggen from aerial view. Photo by Johan Simon Seland / CC BY 2.0.

How to get to Galdhøpiggen

Galdhøpiggen is located in Jotunheimen National Park, and the closest towns are Lom and Otta. It’s easy to get to both of these two towns by either rental car or public transport, so you should not really have any big issues with getting to the starting point of the hike to Galdhøpiggen.

That said, Jotunheimen is not really close to any cities of any importance.. The closest city is Lillehammer, and that’s 2 hours and 20 minutes away by car. So the national park is really in the middle of nowhere.

Total drive time to Lom is:

  • 6 hours from Bergen.
  • 4 hours and 20 minutes from Oslo.
  • 4 hours from Trondheim.

Get to Galdhøpiggen trail start by public transportation

Your first order of business is to get yourself to Otta. The train line between Oslo and Trondheim has a stop there.

From Otta, ride bus line 201 to Lom. This is the town closest to Jotunheimen National Park, and your final chance to buy everything you need for the hike.

In Lom, head on the bus line 202 to Juvasshytta. Either depart at Spiterstulen (for trail option 2), or ride it all the way to Juvasshytta for trial option 1. This bus only operates between June 20 and August 14 in the summer. If you arrive outside of season, you need to ride a taxi to get to the start of the trails.

Get to Galdhøpiggen trail start by rental car

To get to Galdhøpiggen by rental car, drive from wherever you are to Otta. Otta is located just a minute away from E6, one of the biggest roads in Norway, so you can easily get to it from all the major cities in Norway. From Oslo, just drive north on E6 until you are in Otta.

From Otta, drive on Rv15 west until you get to Lom. This is about a one hour drive. From Lom, drive south on Fv55 until you get to a place called Bøverdalen Vandrerhjem (which is a hostel where you can spend the night).

From there you will see signs to take a left towards Juvasshytta. There’s also signs pointing towards Galdhøpiggen, so it’s very easy to find. Now just follow that road until you arrive at Spiterstulen or Juvasshytta.

Tips for when you are hiking to Galdhøpiggen

Below are some tips that you might find useful when you are going on your first hike to Galdhøpiggen.

  • Always bring more water and food than you think you need.
  • Bring a spare set of clothes for changing in case your clothes get wet.
  • Always prepare for the hike to take longer than you imagine.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn around if the weather conditions turn bad.

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