Pulpit Rock, called Preikestolen in Norwegian, is one of Norway’s most famous hikes, and has even been featured in the movie “Mission Impossible – Fallout“. It brings in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, but some might be a bit scared by the dramatic steep fall from the rock formation.
There’s no denying the fact that you’re just a few short inches from a 250 meter drop straight down towards the fjord below, and tripping over could be fatal.
But is it really dangerous to hike to Pulpit Rock and stay at the plateau? Let’s look at the numbers of falls from Pulpit Rock, and how many people have died from falling down.
Deaths from falling down from Pulpit Rock are very rare, but they do happen every once in a while. Most deaths are from intentional jumps, but there are also believed to have been 2 or 3 accidental falls the last few decades. It’s considered impossible to survive a fall from the plateau.
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It’s actually a bit difficult for anyone to give real numbers on exactly how many have died from falling down, and how many of these cases they were in fact accidents. The terrain below the plateau makes it very difficult to find bodies, so someone need to see the person fall down for anyone to even know.
As you can imagine, it’s also difficult to know for sure if falls are on accidents or intentional. There are a few cases where the police have been sure that the falls have been accidents, a handful of cases where the falls have been believed to have been intentional, and a couple of confirmed intentional jumps.
It’s also a bit difficult to know for sure about the exact numbers. The reason is simply that the Norwegian media does not report on suspected suicides, so researching this article is next to impossible.
What we do know for sure is that there have been 2 confirmed accidental falls in the last two decades. There have been found at least 4 additional bodies in the area below the plateau, but no context is given.
While a handful of deaths might sound terrifying, keep in mind that there are over 300,000 people visiting Pulpit Rock per year. This means that the fatality rate per 100,000 is far lower than it is for driving or most other activities really.
Could you survive a fall from Pulpit Rock?
For anyone who’s unlucky enough to fall down, you’re in for a 250 meter fall straight down. The ground below is steep rock formations covered with bushes, and it’s considered impossible that anyone will survive the fall.
It might seem from photos that you will fall straight down into the fjord below, but the actual water is further from the rock formation than it seems, so anyone falling down will land on rocks or bushes.
The ground below is also very difficult to reach for rescue operations, and the entire area is closed of for the entire public if there’s a known fall accidents that day while the rescue crew reaches the victim.
Why there are no safety bars to prevent falls on Pulpit Rock
Many tourists are shocked to find out that there are no safety bars or any other structures in place to prevent people from falling down from the plateau. The reason for this is actually pretty simple; the officials in charge believe the area to be a natural wilderness area, so they don’t want to change it by introducing man-made structures.
This is also the case for most hikes in Norway, and fences or safety bars are actually very rare to come across.
Other dangers at Pulpit Rock
Hiking in Norway can generally be a bit unsafe for the unprepared – you’ve got to deal with the elements, and they can decide to make life difficult for you. It might be nice and sunny when you leave for the hike in the morning, but rainy a few hours later.
Rain might not sound too terrible, but it will make the hike trail slippery, and you will have a bad time if you don’t wear proper clothing. Hiking in shorts and a t-shirt without any backup clothes that can handle rainfall is a bad idea.
That said, the hike to Pulpit Rock is generally pretty easy, with 1.5 to 2 hours of hiking each direction. The hike itself does not really offer any challenges or dangers, so there is no need to be concerned for the actual hike itself when going to Preikestolen.
Many people opt to join a guided tour to make things a little bit easier, which is certainly a nice possibility.
It will be a bit more dangerous to hike to Pulpit Rock during winter (many does this to visit Pulpit Rock without any crowds), since there can be slippery ice both on the trail itself, as well as on the actual plateau. Hiking in the winter is not recommended for tourists with no experience hiking.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.