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Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Norway rain, wind and bugs any ideas?! on 05/25/2006 07:01:24 MDT Print View

We (myself and girlfriend) are heading over to Norway in early July for a bit of walking and I would like some ideas on shelter and clothing. If anybody has had any experience in that part of the world your thoughts would be appreciated.

The first walk is a 3days thru the Jutenheim – a mountainous area in the centre of the south of the country. The second 3 day walk is just above the Artic Circle in a mountainous area near Bodo called the Saltfjellet. The conditions are constant days of rain/drizzle, temps average 24F to 68F and lots of bugs especially the 2nd area and obviously significant wind potential. We will be mostly above the treeline.

The gear I am considering revolves around a Golite Hex 3 which served us well in the French Alps with BPL bivy bags. Although we will take the tub floor groundsheet I would like to try out some polycro groundsheets with the BPL bivies but am concerned they may not be moisture proof enough for Norway.

All clothes will get the permethrin treatment and but I am concerned that the bug situation may require the use of a fully screened nest available with the Hex. Apparently the bugs are similar to Alaska though because we are going to try and keep above the treeline they may not be as big an issue.

Has anybody had any experience with Marmot Precip type jackets in all day rain while wearing a pack? They will get a retreated with DWR but I have never walked with constant rain for 12 hours then the same the next day and the next with these light jackets (I have always used 3 layer jackets and even then they will wet out on the shoulders and pack straps)

Any ideas from folks who have experienced similar would be appreciated.

Edited by electricpanda on 05/25/2006 07:02:05 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Norway rain, wind and bugs any ideas?! on 05/25/2006 18:27:56 MDT Print View

In terms of moisture the GoLite Hex 3 should be fine, especially if you use the bathtub floor (I think the polycro sheets would tend to sink into the often very wet, sponge-like gound. There is a reason Scandinavians wear rubberized, high-top boots in the tundra). The Hex does well in wind, so that would be another advantage. And Scandinavians have used teepee-style "lavvus" for a very long time, so it is an appropriate shelter for that area. (Tentipi)

The problem with northern Scandinavia that is different from Alaska (I think) are the midges. They are similar to no-see-ums, tiny flies that can crawl through even some standard bugnetting, and their numbers are truly miserable. Even with the bugnetting on our tunnel tent, my wife and I struggled with thousands of the buggers crawling into our ears, hair, collar, eyes, cuffs, hems... you get the picture. We heard from locals that hanging a towel soaked in vinnegar in the entrance of the tent might make a difference, but in spite of that my wife (for some reason I was relatively immune) woke up every morning with any exposed skin puffed up red from the bites. Of all my experiences with insects around the world (and I would say that black flies in the Northeast in the States were pretty miserable, since I am allergic to their bites) the experience with midges was the worst. The GoLite without the inner netting would be pretty exposed.

Being above treeline makes no difference to the numbers of mosquitoes and midges. The bogs are great breeding grounds for billions of them. I was in Norway and Sweden in July, too, and don't remember mosquitoes being such a big problem, though, so it might be seasonal. Traditional lavvu tents had fires or stoves inside so that might have kept the insects at bay.

I envy you. Norway is utterly stunning.

Edited by butuki on 05/25/2006 18:28:42 MDT.

Marius Bunes
(marius) - F - M
Norway conditions: rain, wind, bugs? on 05/25/2006 23:32:15 MDT Print View

Hi Healy,
I live in Oslo, Norway and have been to the Jotunheimen mountain area several times. I have never been to Saltfjellet, but I've been to some comparable places. First, I would like to point out the enormous difference in terrain and climate within the areas you have selected. Everything from green, birch-clad valleys to alpine glaciers. It may be rain in the lower parts, and snow on the tops above 2000m. July is usually warm, but in the early july there may be a lot of snow that is not yet melted. The snow that is left is hard to walk on, snowshoes is not used. The snow increases the risk of sunburn. Are you going to walk the marked trails (norwegian trekking association, DNT, www.turistforeningen.no)? Camping on snow in high altitude or rock/gravel may call for heavier groundsheets/mats, but elsewhere the lighter options is fine. The same goes for shoes.

I believe marmot precip to be a good jacket choice.

Golite hex3 should be just fine for most summer conditions.

The most common type of boil-in-bag food is "real turmat" from www.drytech.no, sold in sports shops. Water from most streams and lakes is drinkable without filtering/treatment, but consult locals to be on the safe side.
In my experience, bugs is not always such a big problem above the treeline, especially not in Jotunheimen, where rocky, dry terrain dominate over the wet arctic marshes you find in many other areas. The "bugs" is mosquitoes and gnats. Their number vary from year to year, and the time of the year. Bug protection is important. Norway do not sell remedies with more than 20% DEET. Bring some bug oil and bug nets.

I'll be happy to answer questions to the best of my knowledge, just post in this forum.

Have a nice trip!

Edited by marius on 05/25/2006 23:34:44 MDT.

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Norway rain, wind and bugs any ideas?! on 05/26/2006 06:35:05 MDT Print View

Hey guys, thanks for the info – just the sort of stuff I was looking for. We have decided to take the Hex 3 Nest even though it is adding a big kg to the pack – it will certainly keep my girlfriend from abandoning! I think that with permethrin on all the outer clothing, a bug net hat and tarp bivy with gauze netting inside a ‘nest’ we should be ok on the bug front.

Marius, do you think crampons are warranted in Jotunheimen? I was going to bring a pair of 6 points for myself – I like to wander off track a bit to try and see some animals/climb a peak but I wonder if they are needed on the T trails for my girlfriend? Speaking of animals –from what I am reading there are quite a few reindeer in Jotunheimen but it seems they are farmed to some degree. Are there such things as ‘wild’ reindeer?

Can you tell me where I could buy camping gas like MSR IsoButane cylinders in Oslo? We are staying two nights so I would imagine we would be somewhere near the city centre. We were planning on bringing a lot of our own food from Australia only because we know it and it is not something you would get from a supermarket anyway. Regarding snow. We weren’t planning to be camping in deep snow as I am not bringing snow stakes or extra sleeping pads.

If I have any other questions I will be sure to post!
Cheers Dan

Marius Bunes
(marius) - F - M
Bugs, reindeer, crampons & canisters on 05/27/2006 11:21:19 MDT Print View

Your bug protection and shelter seems like a safe and comfortable option. Be aware that it might be almost no bugs at all - but better safe than sorry. Usually there are mosquitoes below the treeline, and almost none above. It should not be a problem to find nice, soft and dry campingsites near clean water. Wind is maybe the most difficult thing to escape from - above the treeline. I have never seen Hex3, but from the internet catalogue it seems to give a complete wind cover.

Shelter is really not such a big problem in Jotunheimen. There are lots of mountain cabins run by the trekking association and others. Food, shelter and help from others in an emergency is not so far away. So if conditions turn so bad that your tent gives in (I cannot imagine it will), you will always have a backup. When you plan your route, just take notice where the nearest cabins are.

The "t-trails" are very well marked and follows terrain you can walk without special aids like crampons. Crampons are not necessary for walking t-trails. Not even for climbing the t-trail to Galdhoepiggen (highest mountain). There are beautiful glacier formations to be seen, and here crampons may be a good idea. Most people go with an experienced guide, who provides the necessary safety equipment. If you are unexperienced on glaciers and do not bring safety equipment (axe, harness, slings, rope, icebolts etc), I would reccommend going with a guide. Many parts of Jotunheimen is real rough, steep and rocky terrain. In the worst parts I would walk the trails.

Reindeers keep away from t-tracks, cottages and humans. Other animals, hare, fox, moose, lynx and wolwerine, is rarely seen. The calving takes place in the spring. Reindeer herds need to be undisturbed when the calves are young. If you spot them, and I hope you do, please try not to rouse them. Foot tourists on a distance is not a problem. Loose dogs are.
For a detailed map of distribution of reindeer herd origins, go to www.villrein.no It's only norwegian text, but the initial map shows that the reindeer herds of southern Norway has different origins. Some herds are genetically "wild", and others descend from domesticated reindeers, and others again are a mixture. But all herds live and die like "wild" reindeers. They are not farmed like in northern Norway, but a quota is hunted and shot every autumn. In the Jotunheimen area, reindeer descend from domesticated animals.

Gas canisters is readily available from gas stations and sport shops. Common brands are Primus, Camping Gaz, MSR and Jetboil canisters. They all fit well for the screw-mount type stoves. The gas mixture may vary, but for summer use, any gas mixture will do reasonably well. A big outlet named XXL (www.xxl.no) is close by the Oslo central station. They have low prices on most sport goods, including gas canisters. They sell canisters from Primus, a swedish brand. (www.primus.se)

Edited by marius on 05/27/2006 12:11:02 MDT.

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
topo maps of Jutenheim on 05/29/2006 15:07:07 MDT Print View

Marius, that is a whole lot of great info especially the reindeer news. We really appreciate an 'on the ground' report!

One more question. We are unable to get topographic maps of Jutenheim etc in Australia. I am assuming they are easy to get at camping stores or the private huts – at this time we are launching the walk from Spiterstulen on the western side. Would that be an accurate guess?!

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Re: topo maps of Jutenheim on 05/29/2006 15:39:56 MDT Print View

G'day Dan

I was able to buy Jutenheim maps from the Otta Tourist information office adjoining the railway station. I can personally recommend the tourist information office, especially if you are looking for last minute accomodation.

Marius Bunes
(marius) - F - M
Maps on 05/30/2006 13:07:24 MDT Print View

Most bookshops and sport shops in Norway sell topographical maps of popular hiking areas like Jotunheimen and maybe Saltfjellet. Hotels and staffed cabins, private and trekking assoc., will normally sell maps of the area. Tourist offices in Otta or Lom as well. In Oslo, near the central station, right across the street from the XXL outlet I mentioned, is the Trekking associations office. They stock maps and guidebooks. Most staff speak english well, and will give you the best info on their cabin network and marked trekking routes.

You can also buy the maps online. Try www.kartbutikken.no . It is norwegian text, but I'm sure you'll manage. They ship worldwide. You have to register first, click on the uppermost menu item with the tekst "privat". Fill in the usual contact info. You can skip the last fields regarding "medlem", it applies only to trekking association members - they get a discount. When you are registered and logged in, click on the menu item "turkart" (tur=hiking, kart=map). Choose your maps and check out the usual way. I believe you want "Jotunheimen turkartmappe 1:50000" and "Saltfjellkartet 1:100000".

"Statens kartverk", The Norwegian Map service, have got a java applet on their website, a free online topographical map of Norway, zoomable down to 1:5000.
http://ngis2.statkart.no/norgesglasset/default.html
It may be a bit difficult to work with.

Jutenheimen? It is called Jotunheimen= Home of the jotuns.
I've been to Spiterstulen four times, but not lately. Nice place, good starting point for many hiking routes. Happy planning!

Edited by marius on 05/30/2006 13:08:12 MDT.

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Maps on 05/31/2006 04:23:06 MDT Print View

Thanks very much indeed Marius and Roger - I think we are doing much bette now we have the inside info!