If you visit Norway during the late winter, you might experience what we call “hålke” in Norwegian, a type of ice that is extremely slippy. This particular ice is a result from when the ice or snow melts during the day, but freezes as night, making it practically free from traction.
Many tourists and foreigners who live in Norway fall and break bones in the body during the Norwegian winter, and even many Norwegians themselves fall on this slippery ice every year. So let’s take a closer look at how you can walk on the ice in Norway, and how to prepare for the super slippery Norwegian ice.
The short answer to walking on the slippery Norwegian ice is to buy studs to put on your shoes, and put down weight on your foot to check the slipperiness of the ice before you commit to moving. Only move when you have solid hold with your front foot.
There are many different stores that sell studs for your shoes in Norway, and these are by far the best option if you want to walk on the ice without falling. The cheapest studs you can get (like the one in the photo above) are from Biltema, where a pair will cost you around 100 NOK.
It’s also possible to buy more heavy-duty studs at stores that sell outdoor gear or camping equipment. The price can range from a few hundred crowns to around 1000 NOK for a good pair.
Remember to take the studs off if you are not walking on ice. They will quickly become less useful if you use them on asphalt, since they will lose some of their traction by being worn on hard surfaces. Also make sure to always take them off before you go inside, because they will make marks in the floor.
How to walk on the ice without studs
If you for some reason don’t want to buy studs or can’t find any place to buy them, there are a few things you can do to make your trip a bit more safe.
Firstly, always put one foot down on the ice before you walk onto it. Put some weight down on it to get a feel for how slippery it is, and only walk on it if you feel that you won’t slip. The thing to look for here is that the foot won’t slip while you only have one foot down, because this will likely lead to disaster when you try walking on it.
The shorter your steps are, the smaller is the chance that you will slip. Many people prefer to walk on the side of the roads when there is slippery ice on the road itself. This area often has a lot of snow, but snow is not slippery itself, only the ice is.
Walk the “penguin walk”
Some people prefer to “penguin walk” to pass the slippery ice. This method relies on you putting your weight in front of you, kind of like what a penguin does. The center of gravity should be on your front leg at all times.
This is in contrast to regular walking where you change your weight and center of gravity mid stride. Most falls on ice comes from this change in center of gravity.
Why Norwegians are not that bothered by the ice
Most Norwegians are naturally very good at walking on slippery ice, and might not understand the struggles that tourists and foreigners have with it. This has to do with the fact that walking on ice is like riding a bike; when you learn how to walk on slippery ice, you usually do it automatically for the rest of your life without thinking about it.
In other words, all Norwegian children learn how to walk on the ice by trail and error when we are children, and this makes it intuitively good at walking on the ice as grown up as well. It just comes natural to us, so you might find that most Norwegians don’t really understand the struggle.
If you have moved to Norway, you might find that you will get the hang of walking in slippery ice after a few winters, but grown ups will usually not get the same level of skill as people who learn this skill when they are children, even after spending several decades in Norway.
Are the streets of Norway icy during the winter?
Streets in Norway might be very icy during the winter, but it depends on where you are. Pedestrian streets in residential areas will often be covered with snow, but the main streets in the city centers are usually salted to prevent it from having any ice on it.
If you do visit Norway during winter, the chances of you encountering slippery ice is pretty high, especially in January to March. Some days might have very little slippery ice, but the weather can change all ice to become slippery from one day to the next. So you should always be prepared for slippery ice in Norway during the winter months.
Some years are much worse than others, and can have this hålke type of ice during all winter.