With our epic Lysefjord tramp cut short due to being ill-prepared for Norwegian weather, we resorted to taking the conventional tourist route to the infamous Pulpit Rock.
Pulpit Rock, locally known as Preikestolen, is perhaps Norway’s most famous sight, dominating Google image results, and continuing to reach front-page reddit every few weeks or so. Easily accessible from Stavanger, and a more easy 2 1/2 hour hike (in Norwegian terms, not NZ terms, probably still hard in NZ terms), it’s a prime tourist attraction. The rock is a massive flat overhang onto Lysefjord, offering breath-taking views with a dramatic 600m drop to imminent death below.
Most tourists visit the rock in a day trip making use of Stavanger’s well-oiled bus and ferry transport.
Wary of Tongariro Crossing-like clumping, we opted to take a later boat and bus out, do the hike in the evening, and then spend the night at the DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) hut, returning to Stavi the following day.
We arrived at the Preikestolen car-park precisely on time and ventured up to the hut. There we had our first main culture shock. Expecting a Lake Waikaremoana-style hut, we were instead greeted with a huge multilevel building, complete with internet, restaurant, cafe, and shop. Rooms were of hotel standard.
Timidly, we ventured inside with our packs and wet boots, unsure as to whether we were violating the dress standard.
We asked if they had space for two more.
“Sorry, the dorms are all full. We only have the family room left for 1200 kr.”, was the swift reply.
We enquired as to whether we could camp outside.
“No camping is not allowed”.
Now we were stuck, not quite rugged enough to tramp out to the rock and camp there and then, we reluctantly took the last room, paying more than a first rate room in Auckland, or a night at Galbraiths. However, the room was awesome. Nonetheless in my mind I was expecting a more rugged mountain hut, where evening wear entailed polypro, and not a gown.
Once checked in, we put on our rain-coats and set out for the walk.
It’s a four hour return trip, and although described as relatively easy, most of the climb involves scrambling through steep dry river beds, not for the week-knee inclined.
The last part of the trek involves a dramatic climb along the cliff to the rock.
We reached the rock. Even at 7pm, there was still heavy tourist clumping. Nonetheless, it was well worth the journey. The view is impressive, and the sheer 600m drop terrifying.
This is Norway.
There are no safety rails, or people limits on the rock. And, despite the intimidating crack half way through it, the rock is still completely ‘safe’, apparently. The local authority insist that no-one has ever (accidentally) plunged to their death here, although the antics of some tourists for the perfect shot does well suggest otherwise.
We cooked our dinner, and watched more intrepid trekkers set up camp for the night.
Not so for us, we were going to sleep much better.
And so we did. At four hours return, it still is quite the exhausting walk, and definitely worthwhile doing outside rush-hour, provided you are intrepid enough to stay either on the rock or in the hut.