Norways best multiday hike, Bessegen ridge circuit in Jotunheimen National Park
The most well known hike in the whole of scandinavia, is the Bessegen Ridge. The route itself can actually be considered a day-walk (if taking the boat from Gjendeshiem early morning, then walking back) so I turned the route into a three-day trip utilizing some of the other excellent tracks in the Jotunheimen National Park to access more of its hidden beauty.
The plan was;
- Gjendeshiem to Glitterheim – 21km
- Glitterheim to Memerubu – 19km
- Memerubu to Gjendeshiem – 12.62km
A car park is available in Gjendeshiem, where the trail begins. It is possible to free-camp in Gjendeshiem, next to the lake or a short way along the beginning of the trail. Beware though; with the elevation (1000m) of Gjendeshiem it can become cold at night, so pack warmly. The first days hike to Glitterheim travels through barren highland landscape, for which mountainous Jotunheimen is famous. With a blue cloudless sky, the contrast is beautiful and the pure highland air make for a great day hike, though it turned out to be the least scenic of the three days planned.
At the highpoint of the trail, there was snow on the ground (only a thin layer) and I imagine when coming out of season (end of September until mid-June) the trail may become difficult/impassable without crampons. Once arriving in Glitterheim there is a large mountain hut with dorm beds (or fancy room if your Visa card is burning a whole in your pocket) and hot showers available. Note – if you plan on cooking your own food you have to do this outside, no matter the weather! They seemed to be strict on this unfortunately. Camping is available as long as you are away from the hut, I believe 100 meters.
The route the next day returns back along the previous days path, until it diverges at a ‘not so obvious’ fork in the track before reaching Russvatnet. (The signpost looks like it could fall over at any minute, so keep an eye on the surrounding landscape when coming up to the intersection. From there, the track follows the shoreline around the lake (great spot for lunch!) before tracking around the razor-sharp peak of Gloptinden, followed by a steep climb upwards to join the beginning (or end!) of the Bessegen track that leads downwards to Memurubu Hut.
If you are free-camping, don’t be too picky about find a spot on the way down to Memurubu as there are few to be had, and camping is prohibited on the hut grounds. It is a steep walk down to Memurubu and even worse knowing that you have to climb back up in the morning!
A few thoughts about Memurubu – Ridiculously overpriced for a dorm bed. Bedrooms are down in the basement, and trust me they are made to feel cheap. The beds are old and creaky, and there is no effort to spruce up the place at all. If you pay the money, upstairs is great and the rooms and food are great I’m sure. But as a Hiker, all I expect from a mountain hut is a cheap bed, running water, and cheap wholesome food. If you stay in a dorm here, expect to be treated like a second-class citizen! Rant over..
In the morning we were first out of our bunks at 7am and hit the trail a little before 8. Good part about the Hut Breakfast, the serving time is fixed between 8-8.30am so as long as you are on the trail before that, you are guaranteed to be ahead of the crowd and have the track to yourself as I did!
I climbed up the previous days steep trail from Memurubu hut to the fork in the trail where I’d joined yesterday from Glitterheim. From here, the trail continued along the mountain until the ground from my right dropped away and morphed into a cliff. The track was always wide enough to feel comfortable, but the thrill was great to have such a sharp drop-off just feet away from the trail, dropping down to the valley below.
Before arriving at the base of Mt. Bessegen itself, there is a chance to look back upon a small lake at the base of Besshoe (another peak along the trail), and down to Gjende Lake at the same time. Glacier-run off from nearby Tjonnholstinden enters Gjende as a brown muddy liquid, and mixes slowly into the bright blue water. Chances are high there will be low-lying clouds in the distance, all coming together for one eye watering view.
If you would like to add an extra day to your itinerary, Glittertind, Norway’s second highest mountain (2465m) can be conquered in a day-trip from Glitterheim hut.
So, the business end. Mt Bessegen itself is not much of a challenge. Sure there is a vertical 1743 meter drop down to the valley on one side, and another sheer drop to Bessvatnet on the other.. But on the whole it’s just a simple fact of one hand after another, one foot before the next, and you are at the top. But make sure you pack a wind-proof as the wind was howling during my climb and I would be near hypothermic if it wasn’t for my wind proofs!
Once at the top, it’s an easy walk down to Gjendesheim to finish off. As a bonus, you can always sneak into the Gjendesheim Hut to take a shower driving away, just take coins and try to look like you belong there!
SEE HERE FOR MAPS OF ROUTE (OVERVIEW)
Topographic maps for the area are available here:
Information for the huts is available here: