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Norway

Kjeragbolten: Fear at the Rock-face

And here I was, standing on the ledge beside the renowned Kjeragbolten, with a mind numbed to any thoughts that may deter me. One thousand metres below, the sapphire Norwegian fjord ambled along, unperturbed by its familiar steep and impressive confines either side. Still refusing to think, I stepped out. 

I hung, rigid with fear. He simply laughed as he dangled me upside down over the upstairs’ landing. I don’t remember the why of it all, but I do remember the fear; the absolute terror. Perhaps I had misbehaved. Perhaps he thought it was fun. Whatever the reason – that moment lives deep in my soul. I was five and he was my step-father.

Whether that small moment in time triggered my fear of falling, my fear of heights and edges, I cannot say. Maybe it was there already, pre-ordained in my DNA. For as long as I can remember, I have had that stomach-churning anxiety accelerate to the surface if I see someone I care about near an edge, fearing they would fall.

Over the years, I have steadily embraced this apprehension, challenging myself and reasoning out the irrational. I have also chastised myself, gotten angry with myself and felt woefully pathetic.

So, you can imagine I was more than curious to see how I would handle stepping out on to a boulder, wedged between a mountain crevasse, 1,084 metres above a Norwegian Fjord. Otherwise known as Kjeragbolten, the daredevil’s rock.

Norway – Where to go?

Lars, my partner, had been busy trawling the internet for places to visit since we had arrived In Norway. He was working work while we were there, for three months, which meant twelve weekends of sightseeing. One evening, he casually mentioned a couple of hikes that were ‘must dos’ when in Norway. Kjeragbolten and Priekestolen. Fortunately, they were only about a five hour’s drive from Skudeneshavn, our home for the Summer.

Lars’ enthusiasm was palpable as he recounted the plan for the upcoming weekend. He had sourced a tent and mapped the route. The enticing descriptions of the hikes had me move closer to take a peek on the laptop. It was then I saw the photographs. …and it was then that I first laid eyes on Kjeragbolten.

Kjeragbolten - A rock the size of a large car wedged between two rock faces with a fjord at the bottom of the photo
Kjeragbolten wedged between the two rock-faces

My initial fervour was replaced with a strange, quiet contemplation. Buried emotions welled inside me and, like seedlings struggling to push through the damp soil into the light, they pushed and prodded, wanting to be set free. The fear wanted out.

The Camping Weekend

Uncharacteristically, it wasn’t until we had been driving for about three hours that I asked about the specifics of our camping trip. The mind can do clever things and I had done an excellent job of not thinking about that boulder, Kjeragbolten boulder.  It certainly bothered me. Had I not flicked through copious Instagram photographs showing the fearless and the brave stood upon this natural wonder? Did I want to add my photograph to show I’d been there? How would I feel if I couldn’t do it? Did I even want to do it? If I decided I didn’t want to, was that just the fear speaking for me, convincingly arguing in its favour? I decided to push these questions away for a little while longer.

The scenery on the route was captivating. During the drive, we passed countless miniature islands safely encased within glistening, deep blue expanses of water. In one small village, the houses on either side of the valley road were reminiscent of fairy-tale homes. Their grass roofs blended seamlessly with the lush, green backdrop of shrubs and trees on the valley hillside. A perfect distraction!

Deep blue lake surrounded by mountains, with grass in the foreground.

Wooden cabin with a grass roof - in the background is a mountain covered in green trees

Eventually, we chose a camping spot by a small shimmering lake fringed with craggy rocks. It was ten o’clock at night, but the sun still welcomed us into this tranquil haven. The only sound that touched the stillness was the jingle of a sheep’s bell that wandered around us with her two skittish but inquisitive lambs.

a small still lake with craggy rocks surrounding it. I the background amongst the rocks is a small dark green, tent and a person in a bright orange top.

a green small dome shaped tent on rugged landscape with mountains in the background.

three sheep, one is smelling the hand of a woman wearing a red jumper.

Kjeragbolten – The Climb Begins

The morning came all too soon. We drove the remaining twenty minutes to Oygardsstolen, the start of the Kjerag hike.

At 1,084 metres, Kjerag is the highest peak along the Lysefjord.  At its top, sits the famous Kjeragbolten, wedged between two mountain faces, a legacy of the last Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago. It’s about the size of a large estate car, with a rounded rear end, positioned nose down.

The five-kilometre hike to the top involves three really steep inclines and two steep declines, with an elevation change of around 600 metres. Not only is it popular with hikers but also thrill seekers and base jumpers.

A sign at the carpark, detailing the Kjeragbolten hike.

The good news? I wasn’t about to base jump, I just had to make it to the top. Positive thoughts kept the fermenting fears firmly out of the way … for now.

Kjerag began its assault on our muscles early in the climb. Chains slung between poles on the sheer parts of the rock guided our way. The magnificent views over the Lysefjord and the tiny village of Lysebotn way down below was reward enough as we reached each peak.

Asteep grey granite climb at the start of the Kjeragbolten hike. Silver metal poles with chains connected help you climb the incline. Some rough grass patches to the side.

Lars ,with back pack on back with australian flag on the bag. He is climbing a granite steep rock.

a wooden sign showing the direction to kjeragbolten is 3.5km. Mountains in the background.

Michell , wearing grey jumper with orange jumper tied around waist. Arms on hips as she climbs the mountain - green norwegian mountains in the background.

view down into the valley showing a tiny town and the harbour of the Lysefjord

We climbed over craggy rocks and hiked through lush green valleys. Although the end of June, snow patches were still strewn across the undulating landscape, stubbornly refusing to submit to the warming summer sun.

A scene of craggy rock topped mountain with green gras further down the mountain with patches of snow.

Picture of a small stream with a wooden log across it. The sun shines down and is reflecting on the water.

Almost There

The last two kilometres required less physical focus as the terrain evened out. Periodically, I practised stepping on rocks. I was showing my mind that I could easily balance on something much smaller than the actual Kjeragbolten. My mind simply watched with restrained interest.

A wooden sign informed us we had 100 metres until we reached the infamous boulder. In front of us, water was cascading down a tall rock-face with a beautiful, vivid rainbow arched across it. My eyes followed along the edge… and there it was. Kjeragbolten, waiting at the end of a slim, snow-covered passageway, instantly recognisable, daring me to take in its wonder.

Lars stood holding hand up to the water running down the side of the rock-face. A rainbow can be seen reflected in the water

Either side are rock faces and in the middle is a white snow/ice path leading towards the Kjeragbolten boulder

Face to face with Kjeragbolten

Eager for this challenge, Lars was already heading to the rock, ready to step out for the first obligatory photo. He held the Australian flag aloft and I captured the moment, focusing on taking a good photo. I still had no idea what I would do when I approached that boulder myself.

Lars and Michelle in black and white with the only colour showing is the blue of the sky and the blue of the fjord way down below. In the background is the Kjeragbolten boulder wedged between the two rock-faces

Lars stood on the Kjeragbolten boulder holding a small Australian flag.

Lars sat on the Kjeragbolten looking down at the 1000 metre drop

Lars perched on the edge of a rock looking out on to the dark blue fjord

I don’t remember making the decision but there I was, already on the narrow ledge stepping out onto the boulder.  ‘This is actually ok’. I remember that fleeting thought as my left foot touched down on Kjeragbolten itself. I’d done it. I was stood on Kjeragbolten!

…. and then it happened.

A tiny ripple at first. Barely enough to register, but within moments it had pervaded every atom of my being. I froze. Breathe…Focus… My heart pounded as fear reverberated along my muscles. Although still firmly fixed to the spot, movement slowly came back, and I tentatively lifted my arm and waved the Aussie flag. Then I could hear Lars asking me to shout something for the video recording. I could barely smile. No words would come.

michelle stood on Kjeragbolten with Australian flag in hand

Michelle walking on thin edge away from the kjeragbolten

Finally, as the severe grip of fear loosened its hold, I found myself back on solid ground. Relief flooded through me. My legs shook, and my stomach churned. This is the part of the story where I wish I could tell you that there were whoops of joy, celebratory jumps and enthusiastic high-fives. I wish the words elation, euphoria and triumphant were the descriptions I was using for my emotion at that moment. But no, there was none of that. As I stood there looking out across the vast serene beauty of the fjord, I inhaled its calmness, settling myself.

A view down into the deep blue fjord below. On the left a grey brown rock-face and around the fjord tall granite mountain with patchy green

The view around me was the kind that embeds itself, awakens your soul with the wonder of nature. Moreover, the journey to Kjeragbolten itself was laden with views that could grace any picture postcard with pride. Indeed, the beauty of it all was undeniable and my soul felt enriched and grateful.

I had done it, yes … but I never wanted to feel that again. Next time, I would remember the fear. Next time, I would encourage the memories to the surface. I had found my limit. I now knew at what point it was way too uncomfortable. But this time it was on my own accord. I had faced my fear and pushed myself to my limit. Proud of myself? Undoubtedly.

However, now, I would remember.

I exist as I am, that is enough        -Walt Whitman

                     

Information for Visiting Kjeragbolten

A view overlooking the top of Kjerag - a plateau of rock but over the edge is a 1000 metre drop
The view from above of the plateau beside Kjeragbolten

The hike is rated challenging and is about a five-hour round trip. It is only accessible in Summer.

In order to avoid the crowds, set off early. As a result, we left at 7.am and there were only a handful of hikers at the top.

The Kjerag Tourist information provides up to date information and details on the weather.

Getting There

The drive from Stavanger took us about 3.5 hours without using any ferries.

Parking at the Oygardsstolen carpark cost 200 N0K

For more details, Visit Norway details how to get there and precautions to take for the hike.

What to Take

Hiking boots, warm clothing, food, water, sunscreen.

Recommendations from Fjord Norway provide more details about safety precautions.

Where to Eat

Kjerag Restaurant – The Eagles Nest

the menu on a large blackboard above the counter at the restaurant at kjerag

 

 

 

 

As if this hike wasn’t enough for one day, we decided to head to Preikestolen, otherwise known as Pulpit Rock. The two hikes in one day? Mission Impossible? Find out in Trek to the Iconic Pulpit Rock.

Have you faced any fears or been surprised at your reaction?

If you liked this post or you even if you didn’t, I would love to get your feedback or stories in the comment section below.

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Michelle

Author: Michelle

After finishing my Law Degree I decided to become a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, learning and most of all, about inspiring others. Now, as a writer and blogger, I love sharing our travels and our musings on life’s journey. I hope, through these, we can play a part in inspiring you to do whatever ‘satisfies your soul’.

27 Comment

    1. Thanks for your feedback Rachel, it’s really appreciated. So glad you enjoyed it – I think sharing these types of stories helps others look at their fears may be, and what’s holding them back.

  1. Holy crap! That thing looks terrifying! While I’d love to think I could get that dream photo, I’m absolutely certain I would wimp out!
    It does look beautiful though. I’d love to go back to Norway someday!

    1. It’s pretty high up that’s for sure! Your passion and drive for the photo would get you through I think! 🙂 Norway is certainly up there in our top countries – where did you visit in Norway?

  2. Michelle, what a wonderful blog!! You’ve captured my travellers heart and adventurers spirit, this is definitely a place I would like to visit one day. Thank you. And so many congratulations on stepping out on that rock AND for recognising where your limits are – and on your terms.

  3. A fantastic post, thanks so much for sharing your story. A huge well done on facing your fear, very inspirational.

    Those photos are breathtaking, I’ve never really considered a trip Norway.. how silly of me! I’m saving this post for later.

    1. Thanks for comment Vicky. I didn’t feel very inspirational at the time but have since felt proud of my accomplishment! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Norway has beautiful and stunning scenery around every corner -as do so many places though. We are certainly lucky to be able to travel to all of these interesting and spectacular countries. Talking of interesting – I have read your post on Bempton Cliffs, UK and I never knew there were puffins in the Uk!

  4. C’est vraiment magnifique ! Quelles belles photos. Et quel courage Michelle ! Bravo!! Bisous à tous les 2😁

  5. Wow, amazing photos and info guys. I can’t believe you stepped out onto that boulder Michelle!!! Adventurers for sure.

    1. Thanks for your comment Natalie. I can’t believe I did either! That step out, that kind of happened without me thinking too much – but my senses very soon kicked in questioning what the ‘fork’ I was doing! 🙂

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