The trek up the Preikestolen

I first came to know of Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock through just a google image when I was looking for things to do in Norway and the same was listed as the Top 5 treks in Scandinavia. The image mesmerized me at first glance and I needed no further motivation to find my way to get there.

A brief history on the place first, Preikestolen is a cliff at 604 metres height above Lyserfjord is located in the southern part of the Ryfylke district in Rogaland county, in Western Norway. The cliff is said to have been formed during the ice age nearly 10000 years ago when the edges of the glacier reached the cliff, the water of which is said to have frozen in the mountain’s crevices which eventually chipped off and left behind a hanging cliff. This fact makes it another reason you have to go as the rest of the cliff can eventually break off and the view will be lost forever. However, jokes apart, the geology of the cliff have been researched thoroughly and it has been confirmed that there is no danger of the cliff falling apart in the immediate future, so be rest assured.

Now, if you thought the trek was tough, the means to reach the hike start point is equally tedious. We took a train from Oslo to Stavangar (schedules available on http://www.eurail.com/plan-your-trip/eurail-timetable#travel-times) and from Stavangar you take a ferry to Tou, a bus from Tou to Joesperold and from there a cab to the point of beginning the trek.

Now, any descent write up on the trek will tell you very clearly the best time to trek would be April – September with a little cautious on the ice in April. We landed and decided to do the trek on 10th of October and to give you a picture we attempted a 3.8 km trek that takes the best of trekkers 2 hours. To make the climb in a rainy season with no prior trekking experience was nothing short of foolishness we learnt later, but well, we were already up there by the time the realization hit us.

Once we got off, we did not waste any time to get started on the trek right away. The weather was pleasant, not too hot, not too cold. The first half an hour was a breeze, it was just walking straight ahead round and round with hardly any lifts and we smugly thought to ourselves, what was the hype all about.

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The easy part up

But Karma is Karma, no sooner had we thought this, we came to a point where the climb started. Still, not bad, we climbed up a couple of rocks, jumped and skipped a few steps huh, what’s the big deal. Huffing and puffing we trudged on taking support where we got them and slowly moving ahead. We soon reached a point where we could climb no longer and decided to take a breather in between. The entire hike has not been supported with any human adaptions or man-made interventions to keep the sanctity and authenticity of the entire hike, so in most places you would find that there is hardly any foothold or support to pull yourself up. We still didn’t give up.

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As the going gets slightly tougher

The whole 1 hour we trekked up there was not a single soul attempting to climb the rock which I must admit now, slightly creeped the hell out of us. Nevertheless, while we took a pit-stop, we noticed fellow humans and were thouroughly overjoyed. We chatted with them for a couple of minutes and they assured us how the worst was over and how it’s just a 15minute way uphill.

That was enough to boost us and we started moving once again all energized and revved up from the encouragement that we were not far. Boy, were they wrong! There is one and only ground rule in hiking you always tell the truth to the trekker on how far they were.

Still we kept going up and there was much to cheer on the way, with beautifully scenic views all the way up

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The views that help us convince ourselves we are not totally bonkers.

However, the trek got treacherous from there on, with steep climbs with no footholds. We scraped our hands, crawled where we could (we truly were not sure we would make it and hence the lack of descent pictures). And then, like God wanted to test our perseverance, it started to pour down. We scrambled and ran to find ourselves some shelter beneath the rocks in the cliff by the side and prayed for the rain to pass.

Thankfully, it did in about 10 minutes or so only to realize that the way ahead just got 100 times worse. We were dripping wet, the pathway slippery and us with no clue on how further up we had to go. We managed to climb further up, when the mother of all curves came before us. We had reached a point where we could see the cliff (read about 45 minutes further) but still in sight but it was a turn around the mountain and there was literally only space to keep one foot at a time. To the left, all we could see was endless height and rocks with wilderness.

One wrong step and all is gone. To keep the natural beauty of the place the authorities had decided they could not put railings in the entire trek and at that point I could only think how retarded they were.We were not prepared for this. How is one supposed to be so sure-footed when one wrong step would mean death straight ahead! With no one ahead of us or behind us, all we could hear was our own hearts racing, beating at triple the rate and the minds wondering whether or not we should go ahead or if we should accept our fate and just head back down like rational people. Neither of us spoke a word, as we stood their listening to the unsaid fear in both our minds.

And out of nowhere, a phone rings, I literally jumped back (thankfully not forwarded, in which case, you would not be hearing this story from me). Only family can manage to get through all bizarre networks and situations like this just to call if you ate in the morning. We spoke and somehow it turned out as wake up call. The minute we ended the call, both of us knew there was only one way we were going from here and that was up to the view.

We drew our breath in, chanted all the prayers that came to our minds, closed our eyes, hugged the cliff and slowly, gradually took the courage to move one feet at a time. We took our time barely moving, inch-by-inch like we were nothing apart from the stone we were dearly hanging on to. We barely exhaled, petrified that letting our breath out would mean falling 500 metres below.

Once we crossed that, all the rest of it seemed a breeze and we had one final treacherous climb till we made it to the top. And there it was in front of us, the endless fjords staring right before our eyes like a dream come true.

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The view was to die for and no matter how hard I try I cannot explain that feeling then. That sense of accomplishment on making it to the top, that sense of amazement gazing at that naturally breathtaking beauty and that sense of peace of having made it through safely. It made you dizzy with happiness; we could not wipe that smile off our faces. That trek, that experience, that rush of adrenaline, that view, it was just all worth it in that single moment.

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