Galdhøpiggen is the tallest mountain in Norway, Scandinavia and Northern Europe, at 2,469 m (8,100 ft) above sea level. It is in the municipality of Lom (in Oppland), in the Jotunheimen mountain area.
Galdhøpiggen viewed from the west (Fannaråki)
|Elevation||2,469 m (8,100 ft)|
|Prominence||2,372 m (7,782 ft)|
|Isolation||1,568.3 kilometres (974.5 mi)|
|Listing||Country high point|
|Location||Lom, Oppland, Norway|
|Topo map||1518 II Galdhøpiggen|
|First ascent||1850 (Steinar Sulheim, S. Flaatten and L. Arnesen)|
Galdhøpiggen (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈɡɑldhøːˌpɪɡn̩]) means "the peak/spike (piggen) of the mountain Galdhø." The first element in the name of the mountain is gald (m.) "steep mountain road", the last element is hø (f.) "(big and) rounded mountain." An old road between Gudbrandsdalen and Sogn passes beneath the mountain.
Geologically Galdhøpiggen, like most of Southern Norway's mountain ranges, belongs to the Caledonian folding. The peak is made of gabbro, a hard but rather coarse-grained rock which is found in most of the Jotunheimen range. During the ice ages it was heavily glaciated and got its present form. The theory that the highest summits in Norway stayed above the ice as nunataks has been abandoned by most geologists. It fits well with the present flora in the area, but it does not fit well with the present knowledge of ice thickness and the results of glaciation.
For many years, geologists did not know that Galdhøpiggen was the highest summit in Norway. The honor was granted to the much more visible Snøhetta in the Dovrefjell range. Hence no attempts were made to climb the peak, while Snøhetta was visited for the first time in 1798 as part of a scientific trip to the area. In 1844 the geologist and mountaineer, Baltazar Mathias Keilhau, made two unsuccessful attempts to reach the summit. On one of these he reached a summit, which was later named Keilhaus topp, (at 2,355 m above sea level very close to Galdhøpiggen), but the terrible weather forced him to return.
In 1850 three men from Lom reached the summit; the guide Steinar Sulheim, the local teacher Lars Arnesen and the church warden Ingebrigt Flotten.
Access and modern tourism
Access to the top of Galdhøpiggen is not especially hard: from Juvasshytta (1850 metres above sea level, 5 km from the summit) it takes about three hours up (including about 45 minutes to prepare for crossing the Styggebreen glacier), an hour at the top and about two hours back. Some days in the summer, a few hundred people reach the summit each day. Guides are needed to cross the glacier, but are available every summer morning.
Galdhøpiggen can also be hiked from the Spiterstulen lodge in Visdalen, with a technically very easy, but still somewhat strenuous climb of 1300 m — nearly 4000 ft. It takes four hours walk up, two hours down. From Spiterstulen, hikers do not have to cross the Styggebreen glacier, and hence a guide is not required. Ardent peak-baggers may count three summits on the route from Spiterstulen: Svellnose, Keilhaus topp and the summit itself. During the main season guided trips take one to the summit from Spiterstulen via the well known blue ice fall on Svellnosbreen.
At Juvasshytta there is an alpine ski resort with lift on a glacier, with top on 2200 m.a.sl, the highest in Scandinavia. It is called Galdhøpiggen Summer Ski Centre and is open from June and all the summer, when the road is open.
Galdhøpiggen had earlier been challenged for the title as the highest mountain in Norway by Glittertind, as some measurements showed Glittertind was slightly higher including the glacier at its peak.
This glacier has, however, shrunk in recent years, and Glittertind is now only 2464 m even including the glacier. Hence, the dispute has been settled in Galdhøpiggen's favour.
At the summit a small cabin has been built. In the summer soft drinks, chocolate bars, postcards and other items are sold here. Earlier the Norwegian Postal Authority had a small post office here—being the highest in Northern Europe. Galdhøpiggen is not only the highest summit in Northern Europe, it also contains two probably unbreakable horticultural records in Northern Europe, being the upper limit for Ranunculus glacialis (2370 m) and Saxifraga oppositifolia (2350 m). Since the summer might not occur at all, some years, it tells something about these flowers' adaptation to the extremely harsh climate.
On sunny days in the later part of July and August, the summit is visited by hundreds of people.
- "Europe Ultra-Prominences". Peaklist.org. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
- Top 100 Mountains in Scandinavia ranked by primary factor
- Galdhøpiggen Summer Ski Centre Archived 2009-04-27 at the Wayback Machine