THE ASCENT PROJECT AT TROLLTUNGA
Managing the Trolltunga landscape for future generations
The number of hikers in Norwegian mountains is increasing rapidly. For the first time, wear and tear on mountain paths and rubbish caused by human activity are reaching a concerning point. ASCENT addresses these issues with project’s focus perfectly aligning with the challenges faced today. Hiking, walking, rambling and enjoying vast areas of untouched nature has been a way of life for Norwegians. Only 2% of Norway’s area is developed, leaving a large playground for 5.3 million inhabitants.
Nowhere is this more evident than at Trolltunga, the stunning mountain formation on the border at Hardangervidda National Park in Hordaland County, western Norway. In 2009 only 1000 hikers made the 22 km round trek to the viewpoint. In 2010 the iconic Trolltunga was used in tourism material to promote the Hardanger region and with the arrival of social media, people arrived from all corners of the world to have their photo taken standing on the tip of the tongue. By 2017 the number of visitors reached almost 100,000 and the number of rescue missions launched by the local Red Cross had reached 40 over a few short summer months.
While interest in the area was very welcome, the rapid growth presented a number of new challenges. The path began to suffer as hikers were leaving a great deal of rubbish behind, rescue missions increased while parking issues appeared. However, the influx of visitors provided a tremendous boost for local businesses creating new jobs and improving the town’s profile. Accessing the mountains and uplands have become increasingly popular for recreation, fitness and enjoyment. At the same time, being mindful of the necessity to manage these landscapes in a better way to preserve their qualities for future generations; ASCENT is the perfect springboard for this work.
ASCENT project’s aims are an excellent match to address the issues at Trolltunga. Getting to know the project partners, discussing challenges common to all, but in different settings, provides valuable insights not to be found elsewhere.
Did you know?
On 1st April 2014, the DNT suggested that hikers should wear colour coded hats to indicate their interest in dating other hikers, with a green hat meaning “I’m available”, red meaning “no thanks” and yellow meaning “I’m open to suggestions”. Surprisingly, 48.000 Facebook users loved the idea and wanted to make the joke a reality!
Ms. Marta Dixon
Ascent Project Partner
WHAT OUR COMMUNITY HAS TO SAY
We get a lot of people in our visitor centre who have hiked to Trolltunga so I was curious to experience the hike for myself. We started early – around 05:30 – so we beat the crowds and had a lovely hike. We were pleasantly surprised. The media here in Norway often write about queues of people and rubbish along the path, but setting off early meant we saw no queues and we didn’t notice much in the way of rubbish, either. In some sections you can see that the path has expanded to become very wide, but it’s a beautiful hike.
— Karen Løvfall Våge,
Visitor Centre Folgefonna National Park
The extreme increase in visitors to Trolltunga in the past few years has meant that the council has needed to divert considerable funds and human resources to maintaining the path to prevent erosion. We have also worked hard to improve safety for the hikers and we are pleased to see that the many measures introduced are working well! The ASCENT project is a valuable support to the work we are doing and has allowed us to learn from others with the same challenges.
— Rolf Bøen
Manager Trolltunga AS
The paths were better than we expected! It was great to see that there wasn’t too much asphalt or concrete. In New Zealand, far too many paths have now been tarmacked. The whole trip was wonderful. The views along the whole hike were stunning, not just the actual Trolltunga. The weather was very good, which made it all the better.
— Eden & Nick
New Zealand & USA
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