Climbing Stetind -- Rock Climbing on Norway’s National Mountain

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Climbing Stetind's Normal Route -- Rock Climbing in Norway

Stetind, Norway's national mountain, rises symmetrically from Tysfjord.
Stetind from the road below. Approach the climbing route by hiking up to Svartvatnet lake in a cirque below Stetind and Presttinden. The North Face is in shadow on the left. Photograph courtesy Arnt Flatmo/www.westcoastpeaks.com

Normal Route: Stetind via Halls Fortopp

  • Normal Route (5.7 or 4+/5- NO)
  • Number of pitches: 1 5th Class pitch. Rope is used for safety on 4th Class sections.
  • Vertical Elevation: 4,975 feet (1,550 meters)
  • Starting Elevation: 30 feet (10 meters)
  • Summit Elevation: 4,564 feet (1,391 meters)
  • Climbing Time: 8 to 12 hours
  • Climbing Season: June through August

Stetind, towering above Tysfjord in far northern Norway, is an almost perfect-looking, symmetrical granite peak that rises from sea level to a flat 4,464-foot (1,391-meter) summit. The legendary mountain, a coastal landmark, is so beloved that it was voted the National Mountain of Norway by Norwegians in 2002.

Technical Climbing on Stetind

Stetind is a popular climbing destination during the long days of summer from June through August. Technical climbing routes ascend both the North and South Faces, including the ultra-classic 14-pitch South Pillar (5.10a). Most climbers, however, do the Normal Route, which offers airy ridge scrambling and a short technical crux. If you're experienced, it's an easy classic mountaineering route to do on your own. If you're not comfortable, area guide services offer regular trips up Stetind.

Stetind's Normal Route

Stetind by its Normal Route (5.7) up the long southeast ridge is fairly easy for experienced climbers. The usual route scrambles up Halls Fortopp (1,313 meters), a subsidiary lower point southeast of the main summit. From there the route crosses an exposed ridge that is mostly scrambling with occasional bits of easy technical climbing. Halfway across the ridge is Mysosten, a cliff that blocks the ridge. The exposed crux of the route, called De Ti Forbitrede Fingertak meaning "10 difficult finger holds," is a short technical hand traverse up a crack. If there is a guided group on the route, try to pass them before Mysosten. The groups can be as large as 12 people and are slow.

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Climbing Stetind's "Normal Route" -- Trailhead to Halls Fortopp

The Normal Route on Stetind is mostly easy climbing except for a steep section at Mysosten.
The "Normal Route," as seen from Halls Fortopp, follows the ridge to a notch, does a short technical section, and then scrambles up the wide ridge to the summit. Note the rappel point for descending. Photograph courtesy Arnt Flatmo/www.westcoastpeaks.com

Finding the trailhead

From Oslo, catch an internal flight north to Harstad/Narvik. Drive southwest from Narvik on highway E6 for about 70 kilometers. Turn left (south) on highway 827 toward Tysfjord. After driving through the first long tunnel, the north face of Stetind towers above the road. The Normal Route is on the opposite side of the mountain. Look for the trailhead, parking area, and a good campsite on the left.

Hike and Climb to Halls Fortopp

From the trailhead on the road, follow a trail along Storelva river in Storelvdalen valley through forest to Svartvatnet lake. Top off your water bottles and scope the route from this alpine lake nestled in a cirque below Stetind and Presttinden. Continue up a climber's path to 4,310-foot (1,314-meters) Halls Fortopp, a subsidiary summit southeast of the main summit. This section is rough and rocky with occasional scrambling sections (Class 2). The scrambling and rock-hopping is similar to climbing a Colorado Fourteener.

Two Climbing Sections

The route to Stetind's summit is obvious from Halls Fortopp. Put on your rock shoes and gear up since the rock climbing section begins here. The rest of the route divides into two distinct sections. First is the ridge from Halls Fortopp to Mysosten, a cliff that blocks the ridge. The second part climbs past Mysosten and finishes the ridge to the summit.

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Climbing Stetind's Normal Route -- Mysosten to Summit

Grab the good crack, paste your feet on the wall, and go!
A climber makes the exposed crux hand traverse on Mysosten on Stetind's "Normal Route.". Photograph courtesy Torill Berg/www.westcoastpeaks.com

Descend the First Ridge

Descend easily down the left side of the ridge, then make an exposed traverse back onto the ridge itself. Follow the narrow ridge (Class 3) to a tricky move down to a ledge. A bolt protects this move. Novices need to be roped up on this section.

Climbing the Mysosten Crux

The granite block of Mysosten towers above the knife edge ridge and passing it via a left-angling crack system is the route’s crux. From the ledge below, traverse up left for 10 feet (5.7) with your hands in a good crack and feet smeared on the granite face below. This cruxy section is not difficult for skilled climbers but novices may struggle. Place slings from fixed pitons and gear to protect seconding climbers, which also allow them to French-free climb through the crux by grabbing gear. Pull onto a small exposed belay spot on a perched boulder above the traverse.

Finish Ridge to Summit

From the belay, scramble up the ridge over blocks and up short cracks. At one point, an awkward step on the ridge forces you out left then back right. Continue to a jumble of boulders, which you pass on the left. Continue up easy slabby rock and broken blocks, following the easiest path, to the large flat summit of Stetind. Look for a cairn and sign-in register at the highest point.

The Descent

The descent follow the ascent route. Scramble down the ridge. Rope up and belay if conditions are wet or with novice climbers. When you reach the belay at the top of the Mysosten pitch, continue scrambling on the ridge to an airy rappel station with fixed anchors and chains. Rig ropes and make a 100-foot (30-meter) rappel down Mysosten to the lower ridge. Scramble back up the ridge to Halls Fortopp and descend back to the lake and trailhead.