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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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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’.