12 Things To Know About Summiting Galdhøpiggen With A Guide

Jotunheimen National Park is home to Norway’s 29 largest peaks, and Galdhøpiggen takes the top spot for being the highest. Whilst getting to the summit requires glacier crossing, it isn’t as inaccessible as one might think. Quite the opposite, during the peak season a few hundred people a day summit Galdhøpiggen.

How to get to the summit of Galdhøpiggen in Norway

When I travel I try not to follow any trends. Sometimes I even consciously skip some very touristy places, like in the case of the famous Trolltunga hike.

It wasn’t the fact that Galdhøpiggen is the highest mountain in Norway that drew me to its summit. It was the exhilarating thought of crossing a glacier to get to Galdhøpiggen’s peak that made the hike so appealing.

To hike the glacier route requires guided assistance and in this post, I will share with you how to book a guide and all other important information to safely summit Galdhøpiggen.

1. Galdhøpiggen summit hike: the stats

Galdhopiggen Summit Hike With A Guide
  • Distance roundtrip: 11.6 km / 7.2 mi
  • Time required: 6-8 hours  
  • Total Ascent: 650 m / 2120 ft
  • Type of hike: Out and back
  • When to go (2023): May 26 – 17 September
  • Parking: 61.67352, 8.37033

2. About Galdhøpiggen

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Galdhøpiggen is not only Norway’s highest peak, but it is also the highest peak in northern Europe. It stands at 2469 meters above sea level (8100 feet).

The peak is located in the Jotunheimen National Park, one of the most visited National Parks in Norway. The park is known for its raw nature, and moon-like landscape created by many years of glaciation. It is also home to another fantastic day hike in Norway – the Besseggen ridge trail.

There are 2 main routes to the summit of Galdhøpiggen:

  1. From Juvasshytta across the Styggebreen glacier: This is the route I took. It requires the assistance of a guide to safely cross the glacier
  2. From Spiterstulen cabin to the summit: A much longer approach that takes a whole day and includes over 1500 meters of elevation gain over 13 kilometers. Because this route doesn’t involve glacier crossing, it can be done without a guide.

3. The map of the Galdhøpiggen hike

Above you can see the path I followed from the car park to the summit. I measured the distance, elevation gain, and route with my Garmin Fenix 6S pro watch, which I wore on the day.

4. How difficult is the hike to the Galdhøpiggen summit?

How to summit Galdhøpiggen with a guide

For the most part, the hike to the summit is surprisingly easy. We had young children, small dogs, and seasoned older hikers in our group. Everyone got to the top safely and with no issues.

There are a few tricky points in the last stage of the hike, where you might have to use your hands for assistance. Icy conditions along the trail even in the middle of summer might also make navigation tricky. Make sure to have appropriate equipment with you.

5. The time window for hiking to Galdhøpiggen in the summer of 2023

Hiking to the top of Norway's highest mountain - Galdhøpiggen

During the summer season of 2023, guided tours are available daily at 10 AM from May 26 until September 17. Between July 8 and August 5, there is an additional time slot for 11:30 AM.

Snowy and icy conditions can be expected at any time during the hiking season. I hiked the trail in the middle of July and it snowed the night before. We had some fresh powder snow at the summit.

6. How to get to the Galdhøpiggen trailhead

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Juvashytta, the high alpine mountain hut, where the start of the guided hike to Galdhøpiggen begins lies circa 15 kilometers / 25 minutes drive off route no. 55 which is known as the Sognefjellet scenic route – one of Norway’s popular National Scenic Drives.

The drive up to Juvasshytta is quite steep at times. Make sure your car has good brakes and enough power to make it up and down safely.

This is a toll road with an automatic toll station that records your vehicle’s license plate number. You can pay the toll once you get to the Juvasshytta. There are ticket machines near the parking lot.

It is also possible to pay for the toll online within 48 hours of using the road on Paypass.no. The fee for a camper is 200 NOK and 150 for a regular car.

7. How to book a guide for the Galdhøpiggen hike?

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Guided tours are operated through the Juvasshytta cabin. Bookings can be done directly on their website (currently under construction).

The cost of a guided tour is 380 NOK for an adult and 330 NOK for a child. Kids must be at least 7 years old to join the tour.

The price includes a harness and carabiner rental, which you will be using for glacier crossing. Since I travel with my own harness I brought it with me on the tour. The guides were ok with it.

8. Facilities along the Galdhøpiggen trail

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Juvasshytta offers overnight stays as well as an onsite restaurant and a small outdoor shop. You can also rent hiking boots there in case you forgot to pack your own.

If you are not a guest, you can take advantage of toilet and shower facilities, which can be found in a separate building near the parking lot. Both can be used for a small fee (20 and 30 NOK respectively). The facilities are in top condition and look like have been renovated recently.

Taking a warm shower after a hike was exactly what I needed, especially since I travel in a campervan without a shower.

There is also a small hut (Volehytta) right near the summit, where hot drinks and snacks are sold. It provides great shelter during bad weather conditions, but given the number of people at the summit at any given time, there isn’t enough space for everyone.

Unfortunately, there are no other toilet facilities along the trail to Galdhøpiggen, apart from the Juvashytta, and many hikers choose to pee right near Volehytta, which I found quite disgusting.

9. Galdhøpiggen trail description

We met with our guides 15 minutes before the takeoff. After a short briefing on what the hike involves, we found ourselves on our way.

Guides also divided harnesses and carabiners amongst the group. Each person carries their own harness and carabiner which is used to later attach to a rope.

The hike to the summit of Galdhøpiggen divides nicely into 3 even stages.

Stage 1: From Juvasshytta to the edge of the Stygebreen glacier

The first half of the hike (circa 2.8 km) goes gently uphill across rocky terrain to the edge of a glacier. Since we walked in a quite large group (approximately 100 people) the pace is adjusted to the slowest members. This part took circa 1 hour to complete.

Stage 2: Stygebreen glacier crossing

Once at the edge of the Stygebreen glacier, we were told to put our harnesses on and to clip onto the rope. We were divided into 3 groups.

Once the guides checked if we are all safely attached we started hiking across the glacier. This was the easiest part of the hike, however, we all had to keep a proper distance from one another to make sure that the rope isn’t dragging between our feet.

This is done to ensure that no one falls into a crevasse. Most of the time glacier stay covered by a layer of snow and crevasses aren’t visible to the eye. It took us around 45 minutes to cross it.

Stage 3: Summit push

Once on the other side, we unroped and were told by the guide, that we can continue to the summit on our own. We were told to meet them back in the same spot 2 hours later.

The summit push is the hardest part of the Galdhøpiggen hike and it has a few scrambling sections, where you will have to use your hands for assistance.

10. What to bring and wear on the Galdhøpiggen hike

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Despite the fact that it was the middle of the summer season when I hiked to the top of Galdhøpiggen, we still had winter(ish) conditions hence you should be properly equipped. Below is a checklist of things to bring:

  • Sunscreen – Both I and my friends forgot to put sunscreen on before we left which resulted in sunburn.
  • UV Sunglasses – even on a cloudy day, the sunlight bouncing off the glacier can be blinding
  • Warm synthetic or down jacket – to keep you warm at the summit
  • Shell jacket – It should always be in your backpack in case it rains or snows
  • Gaiters – they can come in handy after a snowfall. They will stop the snow from getting into your boots.
  • Daypack – find your perfect backpack in the Osprey Amazon Store
  • Hiking boots – preferably above-ankle hiking boots. I own a pair of Hanwag Alverstone boots and highly recommend them.
  • Hiking trousers – I recommend the rugged trousers from the Swedish brand called Revolution Race.
  • Foldable trekking poles
  • warm hut or a buff – a buff has many great uses from headbands to a hat and neck warmer. I own at least 3 pairs.
  • wind gloves
  • Drinks and plenty of snacks
  • Cash to pay for drinks and snacks at the top.

11. Where to stay nearby 

If you plan on traveling along the Sognefjellet Scenic route and summiting Galdhøpiggen along the way then I can recommend staying in the Røisheim Hotel and Skysstasjon. It’s a historic hotel with an incredibly cozy feeling. Juvasshytta is only 30 minutes away.

If you want to be very close you can also book a night directly at Juvasshytta.

Another great place to stay nearby is the Nørde-Repp hotel in the Bovervalley also along the Sognefjellet route. It’s located in a very quiet setting, has access to a garden, and is often visited by Elks.

If you would like to be closer to civilization then stay in the Fossheim Hotel in Lom. It will be a great place to continue your road trip toward the Geiranger Fjord.

12. Frequently asked questions about the Galdhøpiggen summit hike

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Are you still on the fence when it comes down to summiting Norway’s highest peak? Below are some most asked questions regarding the excursion

Do I need a guide to summit Galdhøpiggen?

A guide is only required on the route which crosses the Stygebreen Glacier. This is to ensure the safety of all hikers. A good knowledge of crevasse crossing is necessary and let’s face it an average hiker doesn’t have that.

Is the Galdhøpiggen hike worth it?

Galdhøpiggen is one of the best day hikes in Norway. Is it my favorite? – No. Do I regret hiking it? The answer is also a no. Would I do it again? Probably not. Once was enough.

Truth be told if you don’t mind hiking in groups you will have a great time. Crossing a glacier and standing on top of the highest peak in Scandinavia is an added bonus!

Other hikes, places, and activities to experience nearby

Sognefjellet 1
My friend Oliwia posing in front of a glacier field along the Sognefjellet Scenic Route

Sognefjellet Scenic Route

The Sognefjellet scenic route runs between Gaupne in the South and Lom Municipality in the North. For over 100 kilometers the road follows exquisite landscapes and crosses Northern Europe’s highest mountain pass. With plenty of viewpoints to stop and take photos, the road features on some of my Norway road trip itineraries.

Besseggen ridge trail

Besseggen is a full-day hike that traverses along the ridgeline high above the turquoise lake Gjende. Besseggen trail has some of the best views of the Jotunheimen National Park

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Marta
Marta

Hi! I am the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.

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