Honningsvåg, Norway

Mountain steps help more people access the spectacular nature of Norway

For some, striking views of fjords and mountains from the summit of Storfjellet are tantalizingly out of reach. This inspired the Friends of the North Cape Steps to employ the unique skills of Nepalese Sherpas.

Close to North Cape, the northernmost point of mainland Norway, stands the proud mountain of Storfjellet. This green giant dominates the skyline above the picturesque and cozy port town of Honningsvåg. From here, a scenic trail leads all the way to the top. Challenging sections of this path prevent many people from seeing the stunning and dramatic views from the summit. Many of these are tourists, who contribute heavily 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 more people to experience the full glory of the nature on this town’s doorstep. Visitors will be able to traverse mountainsides flanked by flowering plants, heather, and herbs, all of which attract reindeer in the summer. As they near the top, hikers pass boulder fields that stand testament to the vast and eternal forces that 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 financial support from Hurtigruten Foundation amounting to 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 stack large, flat slabs to form stone staircases that perfectly complement the unspoiled natural surroundings. At least 1,000 steps are 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 stems from similar constructions in Norway that seen great success. They have also employed Sherpas from Nepal, who are bringing their time-honored expertise in building natural-stone steps and trails to the landscapes of Norway. Their unique building techniques are in many ways similar to those historically used in Norway and now largely forgotten.

This 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.

While these improvements to the trail increase the attractiveness of the area to tourists, they also channel visitors along an established and durable route, avoiding damage through erosion. The effort gives important consideration to ensuring the burial site at Brochmannhaugen is protected and the vegetation on its mound is preserved.

As a whole, the project is a valuable investment that can bring health and happiness to locals and tourists alike for generations to come, all while respecting and preserving the natural world.

How can I learn more?

Learn more about the company employing Nepalese Sherpas to build paths in Norway and see pictures of their work on their Norwegian website here.

About Friends of the North Cape Steps

In cooperation with the Honningsvåg Gymnastics and Sports Association and under its guidance, Friends of the North Cape Steps is working to start the construction process of the North Cape Steps in 2022.

You can read more about the progress of the project in Norwegian here.