Scandinavian Mountains over 2000m - Introduction

Scandinavian Mountains over 2000 metres - James Baxter

Introduction › History

First Settlers

People who initially settled the mountainous areas of Scandinavia were primarily hunters following the reindeer, catching them by driving them into pit traps. These hunters follwed the herds north about 8000 years ago when the last major ice age started to retreat and the reindeer headed north to the new pastures.  For millienium these stone age and iron age hunters survived on the reindeer herds.  Eventually these hunters settled and began cultivating crops on the fertile valley floors and herding animals.

16th Century

During the 16th century the population increased and land became scarce. People were forced to clear remote and steep land to live on and increasingly grazed the animals in the mountain pastures in the summer. Farms were wrestled from the forest, houses were built and families moved in. Some of the farms were built on very marginal mountain shelves.

The most remote was Vormeli Farm whose only link to the world was over the Keisar pass to the northwest and on to the hamlet of Fortun. If anyone died in the winter months they had to wait until the early summer to be taken to Fortun for burial.

Many of these old farms, and their seters in the summer pastures, were abandoned during the course of the last 100 years. Thankfully many of these have been recently restored and are now superbly atmospheric overnighting cabins.


It was in this arena that Norwegian mountaineering or tinderangling flourished during the last decades of the 19th century. The birth date of tinderangling was probably 21 July 1876 when the much respected W.C. Slingsby made the first ascent of the most cherished Scandinavian mountain, namely Store Skagastølstind.

Following this famous solo ascent an increasing number of Norwegians, notably E. Mohn, T. Heftye, T. Sulheim, O. Berge, J. Vigdal, the lady Therese Bertheau and a core of Danes, especially Carl Hall, started to climb the remaining mountains and peaks.

In the course of the next 15 years most of them had been climbed (mostly by Carl Hall with Norwegian guides) and by the turn of the century the early pioneers  turned their attentions to new routes and ridge traverses. While in Sweden Axel Hamberg was busy papping and exploring Sarek.

After that things were quiet until the 1960s when there was a Norwegian-led upsurge in climbing.