Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter
Areas › Reinheimen › Detailed Information
Reinheimen is one of the largest and newest national parks in Norway established in 2006 with an area of nearly 2000 square kilometres. It is a huge triangular area which stretches from Tafjord in the west to nearly Gudbrandsdalen in the east. The south of this wild remote area is the massive Ottadalen valley while to the north is the deep Romsdalen valley.
It is an area of two halves. The mountainous, alpine and convoluted western half, called Tafjordfjellene, with many steep mountains and a network of marked walking paths mountain cabins. The other half is the more undulating high open moorland plateau, or Vidda, and originally referred to as Reinheimen, which has a few valleys, notably Lordalen, penetrating into its emptiness
The western half, or Tafjordfjellene, is arguably the more dramatic, interesting area but cannot boast any mountains over 2000 metres but there are many just under. One of them, Pyttegga, is just 70 cm short, but with its cairn easily exceeds the magic and contentious limit of 2000 metres. Considering most of the mountains in the Tafjordfjellene rise from sea level they are extremely impressive. The eastern half of does however contain a single rounded mountain, Gråhø, which protrudes above the plateau and sneaks above 2000 metres, somewhat to the unfair detriment of its shorter, but more spectacular, siblings further west.
Reinheimen, as the name suggests, is home to one of Norway’s few remaining herds of wild reindeer and about 3000 live here permanently. This herd of reindeer wander freely about the area and often migrate into northern Breheimen which is also part of their range. These reindeer are hunted with a licence for about 1000 being granted each year, but only about 700 being felled in late August and early September. Historically Reinheimen has provided rich hunting grounds for centuries and the area is riddled with pit traps many of which go back to the Stone Age some 3000 years ago and even earlier. Reindeer still remain very important to the areas economy and culture.
The rolling nature of the land in the east of Reinheimen National Park makes this a wonderful area for ski-touring. If there was ever a 2000 metre mountain that lends itself to a spring ski ascent rather than a walk in the summer Gråhø is the one. The gradients are not exciting but the long distances can be covered quite quickly. Consideration has to be given to the reindeer calving time in May, but it is unlikely they will be in the exposed Skarvedal area during this period.
The location around the single 2000 metre mountain of Gråhø has not been an important area for mountaineering but other locations in the new Reinheimen national park has a long tradition. Of these areas the most important area is Romsdal which contains the many fine mountains and the famous Trollvegen, a 1700 vertical wall first climbed in 1965 by both a Norwegian team and British team. Tafjordfjellene mountains also have a long tradition of mountaineering. Tafjordfjellene mountains have a rich flora and this has encouraged many botanists to visit the area as long ago as the late 1800s.
Access to the west of Reinheimen, namely Tafjordfjellene, is complicated in the winter and spring as many of the roads are blocked by snow, and Tafjord itself is accessible only by a very circuitous route. However, it is possible to make three to four day, cabin to cabin, ski-touring trip in the spring in Tafjordfjellene starting in Billingen and crossing to Tafjord in the west or Bjorli in Romsdalen. These tours also make excellent summer trekking trips. The east of Reinheimen, the area in which Gråhø lies, is quite accessible all year on the road from Lom to Grotli in the south and the road from Dombås to Åndalsnes in the north. Apart from the ascent of Gråhø itself the area is not as attractive or as amenable as the western Tafjordfjellene with relatively unspectacular mountains and no cabins.
There are numerous places to stay in the Upper Otta valley. In Lom, Bismo, Dønfoss and Pollfoss, there are various standards of huts for rent and many campsites. There are also hotels in Lom and Bismo. On the north side of Reinheimen, from Dombås to Åndalsnes, there are also a multitude of places and standards to choose from. It should be noted there is a much more limited range of huts for rent and campsites in spring as many place are still closed for the winter.