Norway ornes Svartisen Glacier Summer HGR 163717 1920 Photo Andrea Klaussner

Svartisen Glacier

A destination equally spectacular to both travelers and scientists.

Svartisen Glacier

Deep tunnels beneath the mountain exit at the base of the glacier, with 656-feet-thick ice overhead. Svartisen, Norway’s second largest glacier, is the site of an independent glaciological research laboratory built in 1995 for researchers around the world. 

However, for passengers on the Hurtigruten sailing between Nesna and Ørnes, the sight of Svartisen is so spectacular that the image is instantly frozen into their memories.

At approximately 230 square miles, Svartisen is Norway’s second-largest glacier after the Jostedal Glacier. It stretches across the municipalities of Meløy, Rødøy, Beiarn and Rana, between the Holandsfjord, Glomfjord and Melfjord in the west, and Blakkadalen in the east.

Despite being the lowest-lying glacier on the European continent before the last Ice Age retreat, Svartisen is home to several mountains over 4,900-feet high. Snøtinden to the west rises to 5,233-feet above sea level, while the peaks of Sniptinden and Istinden to the east are 5,203-feet and 5,157-feet above sea level, respectively. 

Centuries ago, the glaciers in this region stretched their ‘fingers’ all the way to the seashore. Engabreen, a glacial arm of Svartisen, currently stretches almost to the Holandsfjord. Climate changes during the past century caused the glacier to retreat over one mile until the 1960s, when it began expanding again. However, in recent years the glacier has started to retreat.

The glacier provides resources that are used while striving to preserve nature as much as possible. Melted glacier ice has provided cheap hydroelectric power at Norsk Hydro’s giant plant at Glomfjord (population 1,250) for fertiliser production. Water from the glacier is accumulated beneath the glacier through 45 tunnels to a huge tunnel that ends in a power station down at the seashore.

Recently, a new industrial park has also been developed to take further advantage of the power resources generated in this region.

Visiting Svartisen Glacier

Cruise ships sail into Holandsfjord for a view of Engabreen. Once at port, an excursion to Svartisen Glacier provides the chance for an even closer look at this frozen beauty. Hikers will also find large caves in the limestone mountains in the east of this area with marked trails.