Galdh°piggen Massif

Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter

AreasGaldh°piggen Massif › Detailed Information

The Galdhøppigen massif is the mightest massif in Scandinavia. Seven of the highest 25 mountains in Scandinavia are found in this alpine convoluted glacier-ravaged massif including the highest, which is Galdhøpiggen itself. In all there are 13 mountains and 17 secondary peaks in the massif and some 10 signigicant glaciers.


The massif is well marked by the two huge U shaped valleys which encirle it. These valleys are Leirdalen to the west and north and Visdalen to the south and east. From these two main valleys, numerous side valleys, many of them hanging valleys, head up to glaciers which cover the central portion of the massif.


Access to the massif is surprisingly easy given the location. In the winter/spring the road to Spiterstulen lodge is open right up to the lodge. This allows access to most of the eastern side of the massif. On the west side the road up Leirdalen is only cleared for 7 km to just beyond Gietsætri so access is more limited. In the summer, however, there is good access from both these valleys and the lodges at Spiterstulen, Leirvassbu, Elveseter and Juvasshytta.


The massif itself is too alpine to have seen much cultural history but the surrounding valleys, especially Visdalen, have contained summer farms for centuries. One of these summer farms belonging to the Sulheim family started providing accomodation for tourists as early as 1836. As tourists arrived the Sulheim family started to work as guides and through the generations have produced many noteworthy mountaineers. Another family which has been heavily involved with early mountaineering here include the Vole family whose ancestor Knut Vole was a Galdhopiggen guide and built Juvasshytta lodge. Finally the Elveseter family have run Elveseter lodge and developed Leirvassbu lodge for last 140 years but have not been associated with mountaineering.

Galdhøpiggen itself has not always been consided the highest mountain in Scandinavia and has had a few rivals. Snøhetta, Knutsholstind and notably Glittertind. Although the solid rock of Glittertind is 17 metres lower than that of Galdhøpiggen it is topped with an ice cap of variable thickness which was more that 17 metres but is deminishing now.

There is a telemark ski race down Galdhopiggen every year called Galdhøpiggrennet starts at Svellsnosi and descends 1100 m over 3.5 km to Spiterstulen lodge. The winners take about 3 minutes.