12 Things To Know Before Tackling Norway’s Famous Via Ferrata Loen

If you are planning a trip to Norway and haven’t heard of via ferrata Loen yet, you need to change your research strategy now!

Via ferrata Loen was set up in 2012, quickly becoming one of Norway’s top tourist attractions. Since 2017, the route has been connected with a ride on the Skylift cable car, which has earned the award for the steepest gondola ride in the world.

Everything to know about Via Ferrata Loen in Norway

Here’s information about distance, elevation gain, facilities, and guided trips via Ferrata Loen. If you have any questions at the end, let me know in the comment section. If you are interested in incorporating Via Ferrata Loen into your trip to Norway, then check out my

1. What is a Via Ferrata?

Via ferrata Loen Norway 3

A via ferrata, from Italian, translates to an iron path. Its origins date back to World War I, when hundreds of via ferratas were set up in the Italian Dolomites to allow soldiers to reach their outposts quicker and safer.

Today via ferratas are a tourist attraction and a great adventure activity for those who want to climb a mountain without any climbing experience. It can be done thanks to ladders, iron pegs, rods, screws, and, most importantly, steel cables, which are secured to a wall to create a route.

2. Via Ferrata Loen: the stats

Via ferrata Loen Norway 7
  • Via Ferrata distance: 2.1 km / 1.4 mi
  • Approach distance: 700 m / 0.4 mi
  • Time required: 4-5 hours
  • Total Ascent: 988 m / 3241 ft
  • When to go: May – October
  • Parking 1: 61.871658, 6.846808
  • Parking 2: 61.874744, 6.840827
  • Via ferrata Access fee: 200 NOK

3. Where is Via Ferrata Loen located?

Via ferrata Loen Norway 19

Via Ferrata Loen takes its name from the place where it was established. Loen is a village in Vestland County, Norway. The village was built right on the shore of the Innvikfjord and at the entry of two beautiful valleys: Oldedalen and Lodalen.

The path runs along the south face of Mount Hoven, which was set up by an Austrian company specialising in these kinds of projects.

READ MORE: 30 Best Day Hikes and Via Ferratas in the Fjord Region of Norway

4. How difficult is Via Ferrata Loen?

Via ferrata Loen Norway 6

When I completed the route with my friend, I turned to her at the end and said, “This is the hardest via ferrata I have ever done”. Even though I have tackled plenty of advanced via ferratas in the Italian Dolomites before, I meant what I said.

Via ferrata Loen is often described as having medium difficulty, but in my opinion, some sections were quite challenging.

After spending two summer seasons adventuring in Norway, I realized that Norwegians have a MUCH higher risk tolerance than other nations. The paths are often steep and rocky, and the rainy weather contributes to the difficulty.

5. During what months is Via Ferrata Loen accessible?

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Speaking of rainy weather. Via Ferrata Loen should not be climbed during wet conditions. Your grip on wet rocks will be non-existent.

The iron path was set up on Mount Hoven’s south-facing wall, which exposes it to the sun. Winter conditions disappear here much quicker than they do on the northern slopes.

Extrapolating, the official season for accessing Via Ferrata Loen starts in May and lasts until October.

6. Do you need a guide to climb Via Ferrata Loen?

No, you don’t. It can be accessed without a guide (some rules apply), but this doesn’t mean it should. If you have never been on a via ferrata before, hiring a guide and joining an organized trip is an excellent idea. The Loen active tour company offers daily excursions.

Via Ferrata Loen certainly isn’t a route for beginners. As I wrote previously, I still found the Loen iron path challenging even though I had over 50 via ferrata routes under my belt.

Prices for guided tours start from 1695 NOK/per person (Summer 2024). Equipment rental and the return ticket with Loen Skylift are included in the price.

7. Climbing Via Ferrata Loen without a guide

Via ferrata Loen Norway 1

To access the route without a guide, you must register your intentions with the Loen Active tour company, which has its base in the centre of Loen.

You will then pay a 200 NOK maintenance fee. The money goes towards keeping the route in top shape, and safety standards in Norway are high.

During the busy main season (mid-June – August), you can only start climbing after 2 PM, which is basically after the departure of all guided tours. This is to minimize the traffic and avoid passing other climbers on the route, which can be quite dangerous.

8. What equipment will you need?

Via ferrata Loen Norway 4

Shop my via ferrata gear essentials

Black Diamond Helmet

Rockfall is a major concern on via ferrata routes. Unbeknownst to you, other climbing groups above you may accidentally dislodge a small rock and send it down the mountain. If it hits you on the head, it could have serious consequences. A helmet on your head (not inside your backpack) is necessary.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

71gKk4U+f2S. AC SL1500

Black Diamond Momentum Harness

Another must-have on a via ferrata route is a climbing harness. A harness works as an anchor point for your via ferrata lanyard. Try it before your trip to ensure it fits snugly without limiting your movements. Aim for a lightweight harness that will be comfortable to wear between the cable-protected sections when hiking.

edelrid basis cable kit special via ferrata set

Edelrid, Camp or Black Diamond Via Ferrata Lanyard

A via ferrata lanyard connects the climber and their harness to the cables along the route. Its two arms and a hidden extra coil work as an energy absorption system in case of a fall by reducing the stress on the climber. The two carabiners at the end of the lanyard are used to clip into the cable. Make sure the carabiners are equipped with the palm squeeze mechanism. It’s the safest and most comfortable.

Shop on Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

91P0f6XnFML. AC SL1500

Black Diamond Crag Gloves

The gloves are meant to protect your hands from any cuts and scratches you may otherwise get if you haul yourself on the cable without them. I prefer full-fingered gloves for extra protection against blisters.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

salewa womens wildfire edge approach shoes detail 6

Salewa Wildfire Edge Approach Shoes

My go-to pair of hiking shoes for easier trails or via ferrata, where I don’t need extra ankle support. They provide excellent grip on the rock and are very durable.

Shop on: Amazon (Worldwide) / Backcountry (US)

reeloq

Reeloq Smartphone Securing System

If you want to take great photos on a via ferrata without worrying about losing your phone, Reeloq is the best tool for it. It’s a smartphone-securing system that allows you to use your phone on any adventure. This has been a great addition to my tool arsenal.

Shop on: REELOQ

Renting the equipment

You can rent the set (helmet, harness, and lanyard) from the Loen Active shop, where you must register your intention of climbing the Loen via ferrata. The whole set costs around 495 NOK to rent. Not cheap, I know. Welcome to Norway!

The shop sells gloves and any other equipment you might need, including clothes and shoes.

9. The highlights of Via Ferrata Loen

Via ferrata Loen Norway 11 1

It isn’t easy to compete with the views from via ferrata Loen. You can see far into Lodalen, Lake Lovatnet, and the Innvikfjord.

The absolute highlight, however, is the 120-meters-long Gjølmunnebrua suspension bridge hanging almost 800 vertical meters above the fjord.

My friends and I were very lucky with the weather and photography conditions. We spent quite some time walking back and forth along the bridge and taking photos.

There is another shorter (36 meters) suspension bridge a bit higher up, which I found terrifying to walk on because it consisted of just three steel cables that I had to balance on. It is similar to a bridge on another popular Norwegian via ferrata, Romsdalsstigen.

If this sounds like something beyond your risk level, you might be happy to hear that the second bridge can be bypassed, something my friend chose to do.

10. Facilities along Via Ferrata Loen

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Toilets are behind the Loen Active tourist office and shop and at the bottom and top of the gondola station, which you will reach at the end.

There are also shower facilities at the top, which I was pleasantly surprised with. You can also take advantage of the restaurant at the top of the gondola station, but since we were on a budget trip, we didn’t even dare to look at the prices.

11. Via Ferrata Loen trail description

Getting to the trailhead

Before you get to the climbing section, you will have to walk for quite some time. Don’t put on your via ferrata equipment just yet; instead, carry it in your backpack.

You can get to the start of the cable section by walking from the parking lot near the Loen active shop or the parking lot near the bottom of the gondola station (in the upper car park). I linked to both of them in the Stats section above.

Once at the parking lot near the gondola station, a sign points toward Via Ferrata Loen.

Climbing along the Via Ferrata Loen

The first 30 minutes and approximately 250 meters of elevation gain consist of hiking. Then, you will have a short 15-minute climbing section for which you should gear up and another 15 minutes of hiking. You can consider it a great warm-up. About one hour in, the serious scrambling begins.

Please pay attention to the route and study it before you leave. There are a few variations of Via Ferrata Loen. I opted for the easiest one possible and still found it to be enough of a challenge.

The suspension bridge is around 3/4 of the way up to the skylift station.

Via ferrata Loen Map

Getting down from the summit of Mt Hoven

Once you make it to the top of the Loen Skylift gondola station, you have two options to get back down:

  1. Hiking down to Loen
  2. Taking the gondola down

Since we reached the top just in time for sunset, our only options were to take the gondola down or hike in the dark.

The gondola operates until 10:30 PM, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy the scenery at the top. The one-way ticket isn’t cheap; it costs 360 NOK per person.

If you hike down, follow the gravel road for 6 kilometres to the parking lot in Oppheim. From there, it’s another 6 kilometres back to Loen.

12. How to dress for a via ferrata

The most important rule is to wear clothes that don’t constrict your movements and protect you from getting scratched on rocks.

I wore my La Sportiva climbing trousers, which I got a few years ago specifically for climbing along via ferratas. I always have two Merino wool T-shirts, one I wear and the other for changing at the top. Icebreaker is my favourite brand when buying Merino wool socks and T-shirts.

I recommend the Salewa Wildfire Edge approach shoes. They have great grip and are comfortable.

In my backpack, I always have at least one warm layer (usually a down vest or down jacket) and one Gortex jacket to protect me from wind and rain.

Where to stay nearby 

I have visited the area twice when travelling around Norway in a campervan. The first time, I stayed at the Tjugen camping near Lake Lovatnet.

The second time, I was docked at the Oldevatn camping near Lake Oldevatnet, which offers great access to the Klovane hike. I can wholeheartedly recommend both campsites. They have great facilities and access to nearby attractions.

If you are travelling in a regular car and looking for a hotel, Hotel Alexandra, right in the centre of Loen, is a great choice. I also recommend the Briksdalsbree Fjellstove, which has great access to the area’s top tourist attraction: the Briksdalsbreen glacier viewpoint in Jostedalsbreen National Park.

Other hikes, places, and activities to experience nearby

Kattanakken Day Hike 9
The views along the Kattanakken hike

Kattanakken day hike

It is one of the best trails in Norway, and you can get amazing aerial glacier views. Visit my post about Kattanakken to learn more.

Rakssetra farm

Rakssetra 1

A quick-to-reach old mountain farm with amazing views over Innvikfjord and into the Olde Valley. The whole hike takes 1.5-2 hours to complete.

Lovatnet

Another beautiful lake in the Stryn municipality of Vestland county in Norway, Lovatnet, has a fascinating and equally terrifying history of megatsunamis. It is located in the parallel valley to Oldedalen.

Mount Skåla

Norway’s highest mountain peak rises straight from the Fjord. With 1848 meters of elevation gain, you have to be really committed to hiking up to Mount Skåla. It’s best to combine it with an overnight stay at the hut built right on its summit.

Klovane day hike

Klovane Day Hike Norway 27
The summit of Klovane

A demanding hike with the best views of the turquoise lake Oldevatnet. Check out my detailed guide to the Klovane hike to learn more.

Segestadt

Another abandoned farm and a big piece of Norwegian history. Segestadt lies on a rocky knoll circa 400 vertical meters above the beautiful lake Oppstryn.

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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.

2 Comments

  1. This post is PURE GOLD! Thanks a lot! We are near Loen right now and are looking into the Via Ferrata. I was not sure about the difficulty level. We will do it! Getting the guide, though. Just have to wait now for better weather conditions.

    Just FYI, the one-way Gondola ride is not 360 NOK anymore, I saw it for 425 NOK now.

    • Hey Matt! Thanks a lot for your great feedback. I am glad the post helps. Have lots of fun and fingers crossed for good weather. If you want another great via ferrata try the Romsdalsstigen in Åndalsness.

Comments are closed.