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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Pulpit Rock, Norway

Welcome back! You may have seen some of my Pulpit Rock pictures on Facebook, but I wanted to give you a bit of the background and story of our epic hike through Norway's stunning scenery. Enjoy!

Above: Pulpit Rock

Whilst researching things to see and do in Stavanger, I came across Pulpit Rock which is located about 25km from the town. Other crew members from the ship had the same idea, and after a boat ride, followed by a bus ride, we were ready to start out hike! With the ship's all-aboard time in the back of our minds (we had to be back by 5pm) the hike took on an extra dimension - a race against the clock!

Above: The 'base camp', Preikestolen Fjellstue.

Before I tell you a bit more about the hike, let me give you some background information. Preikestolen, also known by the English translations of Preacher's Pulpit or Pulpit Rock, is a massive cliff 604 metres (1982 feet) above Lysefjorden. The top of the cliff is approximately 25 by 25 metres (82 by 82 feet), almost flat, and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Norway (about 200,000 people hike to the rock every year).

Above: The path leading from the base camp (hidden behind trees on the right).

Our bus dropped us off at Preikestolen Fjellstue, where the road ends. A trail then extends from there up to the rock through a variety of mountain landscapes. Some parts of the walk are very easy such as this wooden pathway through marshland:

Above: Following the leader.

However, most of the journey was over rougher terrain, and in some cases we found ourselves scrambling over boulders with only a red daub of paint to guide us.

Above: The boulder field which proved one of the toughest parts of the hike!

The hike starts at an elevation of approximately 270 metres (886 feet) above sea level, and climbs to 604 metres (1982 feet). Even though the difference in elevation is only 334 metres (1096 feet) and the walk is not particularly long (3.8 km each way), the path climbs and descends various ridges which makes the journey much more strenuous!

Above: A rare signpost!

We managed the walk up in about an hour. Some people take as many as three but we didn't have time for a leisurely stroll! As we reached the top, it was an exhilarating moment to take in the view and the rock itself.

Above: The view!

Despite the popularity of the rock, to this day no safety railing has been constructed on the edge of the cliff so as not to harm the natural beauty of the cliff. Despite the insecure gorge, there have been no accidents at the site, but there have been suicides and suicide attempts.

Above: The key here was not to think about the fact that you are dangling over a 604 metre cliff.

The cliff was formed during the Ice age, about approximately 10,000 years ago, when the edges of the glacier reached the cliff. The water from the glacier froze in the crevices of the mountain and eventually broke off large, angular blocks, which were later carried away with the glacier. This is the cause of the angular shape of the plateau.

Above: This looks more precarious than it is - the plateau is actually quite wide and I was a safe distance from the edge!

Along the plateau itself there continues to be a deep crack. The cracks show that the plateau will at some point fall down, but all the geological investigations have revealed that this event will not happen in the foreseeable future, and the geologists have thus confirmed the safety of the plateau.

Above: Another view from the edge.

The views from the rock were incredible, and it is very difficult, if not impossible to capture it on camera. The day we visited, the rock was quite busy but many people were fairly quiet, seemingly in awe of their surroundings.

Above: Fellow crew-members pose for a picture.

After a light lunch on the rock, we began the descent down which took a little less time than the ascent. On our way down, we stopped at a mountain lake and some of the more adventurous among us took a dip! Part of the excitement of the day was the race against the clock to get back to the ship (the buses and ferries only ran at certain times) but you'll be pleased to hear that we made it!

Above: One more shot from the top.

Thanks for reading!

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