Mountain Steps Help More People Access the Spectacular Nature of Norway
Striking views of fjords and mountains from the summit of Storfjellet are tantalisingly out of reach for many – inspiring the Friends of the North Cape Steps to employ the unique skills of Nepalese Sherpas.
Goal: Making trails more accessible
Close to the northernmost point of mainland Norway – the famed North Cape – stands the proud mountain of Storfjellet. This heather-clad giant dominates the skyline above the picturesque and cozy port town of Honningsvåg, from where a scenic trail leads all the way to the top. But challenging sections along this path deny many people the chance to see the stunning and dramatic views from the summit – not least tourists, who contribute much to the local economy.
The Friends of the North Cape Steps is an organization whose goal is to make the trail more accessible, thus enabling many more people to experience the full glory of the nature on the doorstep of this town. Visitors will be able to traverse mountainsides colonized by flowering plants, heather, and herbs – which attract reindeer in the summer. As they near the top, the walkers will pass boulder fields that stand testament to the vast and eternal forces that have created this dramatic landscape.
Ancient construction techniques in concert with nature
The existing trail has a steady ascent, with some sections that are particularly steep. With support from Hurtigruten Foundation of NOK 100,000 (approx. €10,200), the Friends of the North Cape Steps aim to construct Sherpa steps up the steep sections of the trail. Skilled Nepalese craftspeople will stack large, flat slabs to form stone staircases that perfectly complement the unspoiled natural surroundings. At least 1,000 steps will be required, each with a minimum width of five feet to ensure people can pass each other without having to step off the trail.
The idea comes from similar constructions in Norway that have been met with great success. Those have also employed Sherpas from Nepal, who brought their time-honoured expertise in building steps and trails of natural stone to bear on the similar landscapes of Norway. In fact, their unique building techniques are similar in many ways to those historically used in Norway and now largely forgotten.
A focused effort will bring multiple benefits
Since the trail is relatively short and the start is readily accessible, improving the difficult stretches will open the route to considerably more people with a far wider range of capabilities. What’s more, increasing access to the summit of Storfjellet will also make it possible for more people to follow the ridge northeast from there, granting better access to the wilderness beyond.
At the same time as increasing the attractiveness of the area to tourists, the improvements to the trail will channel visitors along an established and durable route, avoiding damage through erosion. An important consideration in this regard is ensuring a burial site at Brochmannhaugen is protected and the vegetation on its mound is preserved.
Altogether, the project is a valuable investment that can bring health and happiness benefits for local people and tourists alike for generations to come, while respecting and preserving the natural world.
About Friends of the North Cape Steps
Under the guidance of -and in cooperation with- the Honningsvåg Gymnastics and Sports Association, the Friends of the North Cape Steps is working to establish the North Cape Steps and start the construction process in 2022.
You can read more about the progress of the project in Norwegian by visiting here.
Where can I learn more?
You can learn more about the company employing Nepalese Sherpas to build paths in Norway and see pictures of their work on their Norwegian website here.