Adventour

The Tale of Everesting Trollstigen

06/01/21
Jonas Orset

8848 vertical meter in the iconic Trollstigen to support the work of Hope for Justice. Everything set for an epic day. A tough, demanding, challenging, yet fun and memorable day. I will never forget the time I Everested Trollstigen.

Trollstigen, or "The trolls path," is one of the world most known mountain roads. It is twisting and zigzaging up the mysterious mountain called Trolltindene, where the fog dances around the peaks, separated by the roaring sound of waterfalls. You should not be superstitious, be afraid of the dark, or be a sunshine rider. This climb will make your the hairs on your back stand up, and the legs to want to run.

To even consider to ride here you need nerves of steel, and an unlimited comfort zone. Especially if your planning to do it 14 times in a row. This challenge is not for the ones staying indoors if the wind howl, but rather those who is howling in choir with the werewolves.

This one is for those who believe everything is possible and want an out of the ordinary feel of freedom.

Trolly conditions. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

Free as the bird

Once upon a time somewhere in Norway. A day in late August. 14 riders set out to try their luck. To conquer the Troll.

We set off to cycle Everesting in the epic climb of Trollstigen to raise funds to fight modern slavery.

Just like Askeladden in the folk tale (Ashlad), we need to be proactive to grow. We need to challenge ourselves and expand out limits. We have all the opportunities in the world. We have the freedom to go for our goals and dreams.

Not everybody have the same freedom, and we wanted to pedal a little extra for those deprived this possibility. It is estimated to be approximately 25 millions slaves in the world. Way too many kids grow up in captivity without the freedom to make a future for themselves. During the cycling event in Trollstigen we were raising money to support the work of Hope for Justice.

Wrapped the knapsack and got going

We arrived late Friday, utility man Kent Erik Harridsleff and myself.

I had to change to a smaller crankset (34T) and we had therefore to stop by Intersport Lillehammer to get to fixed. Great service by them.

This was my first long drive with my new Nissan e-NV200, and even with 40 kW battery we had to stop for charging several times. The travel took its time.

Nissan eNV-200. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

We arrived Åndalsnes late eventing and went straight to Coop Extra which had generously donated fruit to us riders.We bought snack for the ride and BBQ for after.

A little later we were at Trollstigen Camping og Gjestegård. After unloading our luggage we continued up to the top of Trollstigen with party tent, banners, and road cones so the early starters would see the segment start and finish, and find our base camp.

I was first in bed at 1.30 AM. Luckily it seemed like the other riders had already gone to bed and prepared well.

Trollstigen ready to be Everested. Photo: Fredrik Hagen.

14 beasts in the mountian

These were the riders:

Aina, Astrid, Birgit, Kaisa, Sissel, Aaron, Cato, Erik, Hans, Markus, Matteo, Kenneth, Ola, and Ståle, next to me.

Sunrise. Photo: Fredrik Hagen.

READ ALSO: This is Everesting

The trolls turned to stones at sunrise

7 o'clock I woke up when Aaron and Matteo clicked in their pedals. They were about to get started. My legs began tingling. I wanted to get going too. My plan was to start at 10 AM, but when I saw the guys riding into the foggy mountains my heart was pumping faster.

Aaron is climbing. Photo: Fredrik Hagen.

Breakfast, filling bottles, bars into my pockets, lubing the chain. 9.30 AM and I was pedaling too.

I was the last man. Cato had even started 2 AM in the middle of the night. Birgit was just behind. They were already 7 hours ahead.

Cato in a good rhythm. Photo: Fredrik Hagen.

Ole was the first one I met. He was in a good mood and on his third lap. We rode together to the top.

While climbing we met one smiling rider after another. Everyone was enjoying this!

Ole is smiling. Photo: Marius Bache Wold.
Erik has a great view to Isterdalen he can enjoy. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

We climbed through and over the clouds. The water streamed down the mountain sides and into the powerful river in the middle of the valley. The tourists were still sleeping. The sheeps rested on the road. We were in harmony with the nature.

I am going downhill. Photo: Marius Bache Wold.
Trollstigen has 11 switchback turns. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

Eyes as big as tin plates

The peaceful morning was soon taken over by tourists in their mobile homes and on motorbikes. We had to share the climb with others. One gazed more at the landscape than the other. It was like the World Championship in capturing most photos.

At 11 AM, a long line of 100 veteran trucks commenced the climb. What a view!

The trucks seemed to forget the 50s were over. They also had forgotten the hardness of ascending a 8k climbs with 650 meter of elevation. A miracle they all made it safely up and over the top.

Soon we were also accompanied by veteran cyclists in the climb, then the youth. The race, Trollstigrittet, was on its way.

Eventually we had to share the road with others. Photos: Kent Erik Harridsleff.
Astrid and Kaisa taking on the climb. Photo: Marius Bache Wold.

Here it smells of Christian man’s blood and bones

I had been feeling good the first laps and cruised on 260-270 watts. I was soon halfway.

On this Saturday the yearly Trollstigrittet was held, and I was registered.

I cannot complain about a short warm up. Not even the reconnaissance of the climb. I had already done 6 laps and knew exactly what to expect in the hill race. However, 5 hour of cycling and 4000 meter of elevation was quite a tough lead up to a race.

I went full gass in the Trollstigrittet. Photo: Fredrik Hagen.
I'm keeping my pace in the corner. Photo: Marius Bache Wold.

I was an individual time trial. My start was 2.37 PM, and 31 minutter later I reached the top. I had my personal best time up the climb, but the power was not my best ever. I still made it to 13th and 2nd best in my age category. I have be happy about it – during an Everesting.

Podium, race done, Everesting only halfway.

Many strong riders raced Trollstigrittet. Peter Hagelund Horn in a good pace. Photo: Fredrik Hagen.

"Oh, I have things to do, and this will do," said Askeladden

I was digging deep in the race and it was quite heavy to restart for lap 8. An Everesting will not finish itself, so I had to keep going, One pedal stroke at the time.

Each little step in the right direction will eventually make a huge leap. Like a lot in life. Make the pivot step.

Support by others is underestimated when facing challenges.

I rode a lap with Matteo. The italian expat, working in the University of Bergen, and is a fantastic positive person. A lap with him recharged my batteries.

Matteo (right) gave me new energy for the second part of the Everesting. Photo: Marius Bache Wold.

The support crew gave a big motivation boost at the top of each lap. Each climb was finalized by refueling energy and water at the Base Camp. Kent Erik and Sissel kept the fortress of a food station open, despite chilly wind and rain showers. They did such a priceless work. Without them it would been a totally different ball game.

Base Camp at the top of Trollstigen. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

"I'm barely half full yet. Do as I did, and cut a hole in your stomach; then you can eat as much as you want," said Askeladden

An Everesting offer highs and lows. Literally and figuratively. 8848 meters uphill, and just as many downhill. A physical challenge, but yet an unique experience.

Kaaisa and Markus closing in on the top. Photo: Fredrik Hagen.

When the rain started pouring at 5 PM the challenge went into a whole nother level of toughness. All was turned around. The kind downhill was not the most difficult part of the route. 5-6 degrees celsius combined with rain, wind and wet clothes, surely one could catch one's death.

When rain arrived it became freezing. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

Now suddenly the uphill was the best part. Halfway up the climb the heat finally came into fingers and toes. At the same time, the rest we got from the downhill disappeared. It was freezing cold and mentally demanding down, and heavy legs and tiring up again.

The fear and anxiety was about to take a toll on each one of us.

The work tasks were eating, drinking, positive thinking, and just keep pushing those pedals.

Squeezy sponsored us with energy products, so we could keep energized the whole time. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

The trolls awakening when sun set

For some of the riders who already had been struggling, the cold was the final nail in the coffin. It was probably reasonable, it is always a limit to what is sensible.

Birgit rode the solid «Denali» (6 190 m) before enough was enough. Well done! Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

I was working on my own mind. To manage to keep my spirit up I needed to keep cheering for the riders I met. Even if I felt more like going into my own dark place.

I would not take breaks at the icy cold Base Camp at the top. I had rather to do my stops in the middle of the uphill part if I had to fix something. At least then I was barely keeping my body temperature up.

Just carry on. One pedal stroke at a time.

The Trolls are awakening. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

4 laps to go became 3. 3 became 2. When the finish line is near the chase to get there is unbearable. I could not give the impatience any space in my head, I had to keep it simple and focus on each corner and each road sign.

Some of the riders who started earlier in the morning had just made it. It was inspiring, and soon I could also sense the barbeque we planned to eat for the after bike.

Cato closing in to the top. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

What just happened? Some creatures appeared in the hill.

It was not trolls, nor goblins, but some riders from the cycling club Gauldal SK. They took the drive up the climb to cheer and hand out sveler, a typical Norwegian butter-based cake.

They had been racing the race earlier the same day, but came back after the dark. What a great gesture and my energy level arised.

"When he had walked for quite a bit, Little Frick got tired."

As Little Frick in the fairy tale, after long I also became tired. But I was experiencing Schadenfreude (harm-joy) in it all. I appreciated being able to ride this epic climb. The landscape was breathtaking, I could never be tired of this view.

I shifted my focus on the positive part of this struggle. I would never forget this, when Everesting Trollstigen.

I connected my earphones, asked Siri to play Edvard Grieg. Proper national romantic music to absorb the atmosphere.

It was like being part of a fairy tale.

«When he was far on his way, he entered a narrow valley surrounded by high mountains on all sides. He wondered what might be on the other side of these mountains, and how he could come across. But up he had to go, and up he went.»  – Little Frick with the Fiddle

Powerful surroundings in Trollstigen while I am crossing the bridge 3 km before the top. Photo: Fredrik Hagen.

I almost felt bad for Kent Erik. He had been in our base camp as support crew for the whole day, except a short time when he actually was running up the climb (!!). Despite the rain, he was still up here. In the darkness with the sound of the thundering waterfalls, he was patiently and kindly serving us riders.

Rainy. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

When we conquered the Troll

Last lap of an Everesting is unique. It is worth all the struggle. You forget all about the pain and the feelings are overwhelming.

Now it was dead dark. Not even a car on the touristy road. No living souls to see. Just five lonesome riders.

Kenneth closing in to the finish. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

It stopped raining for a bit. We were now inside the cloud. I could barely see more than 10 meter ahead. Even with lights I had very limited vision.

Foggy. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

I was all very adventurous. I turned of the tones to Edvard Grieg and just listened to the sound of nature. The rumbling waterfalls were echoing the valley. It was such a powerful experience.

I could barely see the broken road line indicating the edge of the road. I had to aim for the next one and make sure I was on the right side of the line, which was the left side, not to go outside the cliff.

I closed in on the top and was eager to get up and finish. Motivation wice I wanted to keep riding, my legs were also good for a few more laps, but the rest of my body was more keen on a hot shower.

Finally up the 14th time. The Trolls Path was Everested.

The top is reached for the last time. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

A worn-out sole, a magpie, a pottery shard, and memories for life

What a magical day. The atmosphere was really something else. I felt I got the princess and half of the kingdom.

Back at the cabin we riders had more than a lot to talk about into the night. The barbeque outside was moved inside. Boiled hot dogs and fried burgers. Everything tasted gold now.

All tired, all happy. Smiles from ear to ear. Heavy legs, painful lower backs, sleep deprived, but joy, laugher, and satisfaction. What a day!

Torture and hypothermia was a little price to pay for such an experience. The nature, landscape, feeling of mastery, and camaraderie, we all celebrated each others achievements.

Despite cold weather and tired legs, Martin was smiling like the sunshine in the rain. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

8 riders made it all the way to Everesting, many made it to Half Everesting, but no matter the distance, we had all felt the freedom and appreciation in being able to challenge our own limits.

Let us keep supporting organisations as Hope for Justice which works to free people from coercion, forced labor and slavery. Everyone deserve the possibility to chase their goals and dreams.

SUPPORT: Hope for Justice

Aaron (right), Matteo and myself, the day after. Photo: Kent Erik Harridsleff.

CHECK OUT THE RIDE ON STRAVA: Everesting Trollstigen

A huge thanks to the support crew of Kent Erik and Marit.
Thanks to Marius, Fredrik, and Kent Erik for amazing photos.
Thanks to Squeezy Norway for energy products.
Thanks Coop Extra Åndalsnes for fruit.
Thank to all of you who supported our project and cheered for us.

Mostly thank you Hope for Justice for your ongoing effort to make slavery-free future for all. Together we can conquer mountains. Together we can stop slavery once for all.

Photo: Marius Bache Wold.
Photo: Marius Bache Wold.

Snip, snap, snout.
This tale's told out.

We are already talking about our next Everesting.