Whether joining one or our trips or going it alone, we hope our Rjukan Top Tips will provide some useful info for your visit.
A World Class Ice Climbing Venue
We’ve been visiting Rjukan for many years and we never tire of this Norwegian ice climbing paradise. There is everything from single pitch to epic multi pitch options. There are routes of all grades. You can enjoy climbs that you can tackle virtually straight from your car through to lines with a challenging approach. There is everything! Add to that good accessibility, friendly locals, Norwegian efficiency, good guide books and reliable conditions. It is no wonder Rjukan has become a Mecca for visiting climbers.
Join Us Or Go It Alone
The easiest way to organise a visit there is simple enough – join one of our Peak Mountaineering trips! Details on all our trips is on the website here. There are loads of advantages to going with qualified instructors who know the best venues and can guide you effortlessly through your adventures, However, we also understand that some people are experienced ice climbers who want to forge their own path.
Well, again it is worth having a chat with us. We can often offer logistics packages that could make your life far easier. Accommodation and food will be available and you simply buy in to the services at whatever level you choose. This is a great way to make a sociable trip even more sociable. More details on this will be available on our website by early summer.
Then again, there are those that want to really forge their own path and that is good too. In which case these Rjukan Top Tips might be of use. Over many visits we have built up a fair bank of knowledge. We wanted to share some of that hard earned beta with you. It will be useful if you are coming with us and extremely useful if you are going freestyle.
Our Rjukan Top Tips are in no particular order and came about over a late night chat. So, apologies if it seems like a cascade of randomness. That’s exactly what it is!
You can fly from various U.K. airports to either Oslo Torp or Oslo Gardemoen airports. We tend to to use Ryan Air from Manchester which arrives at Oslo Torp. From here it is then about a 3 hour drive to Rjukan. There are other flight options to Torp (such as Ryan Air from Stansted) and some London flights head for Gardemoen. We have far less experience to flights to and from here, so you’ll have to work all that out yourself though. Sticking with Torp airport, it is called Oslo Torp but that’s quite a broad statement. You are quite some distance from central Oslo!
The airport is small and so it it is easy to head away from. The car hire offices are just across from the entrance and pick up and drop off is simple. We normally leave some of the group in the airport while others head across to collect cars. There is a service till at Torp, but it really worth changing money before you arrive if possible.
Heading for Rjukan
There are some toll roads on the way to Rjukan and, with typical Norwegian efficiency, these will automatically be charged to your car. Then , unless pre arranged with the hire company, the charge for these will later appear on your credit card.
The roads are good although often snow covered, but your hire car will have winter tyres. Take it steady and we’ve never had problems getting to and from Rjukan. Big accumulations of snow will be cleared and otherwise people just get on with it. Last time we left Rjukan and drove to Torp in continuous snowfall there were snow ploughs busy everywhere. I do mean everywhere. The Norwegians know how to deal with snow!
The town of Rjukan grew from the needs of Norwegian industry and Paul has written bits about it before. Today, it is still a thriving community largely focussed around the hydro plant. It is also ingrained in wartime history and again Paul wrote about that here.
Most of the town focuses around the main road. Along here you will find a bank (service till available outside). There is also an excellent tourist information office with English speaking staff. This stocks climbing guidebooks and local maps. Besides that, there are several sports equipment shops and a number of supermarkets.
There is also a leisure centre with sauna and hot tubs and a few cafes. Some climbing is very central to the town and other stuff is situated along the gorge and on outlying hillsides.
It pays to book accommodation early. The options are limited and the place is popular. In the centre of town there is the well used Rjukan Hytteby (a range of cabins and apartments). There is also the Old School Hostel which, although basic, is popular with climbers. Up the hill by the ski area there is a range of very plush cabins of various sizes. There are a few other places worth considering like the Rjukan Gjestehus although the facilities here are basic. Besides that, other options have sprung up through AirBnB and this is worth checking out. We’ve found some great options this way.
If the accommodation in Rjukan itself is packed then it is worth looking further out. We’ve stayed in outlying villages which can work a treat as long as they are within a reasonable travelling distance.
Rest Day Activities
Rjukan is a relaxed place to spend your time and, although there isn’t much in the way of nightlife, there are a few rest day options. The area is steeped in the history of heavy water production during the war which Hitler was hoping would unlock the key to making an atomic bomb (I wrote about that here). His plans were fortunately dashed by the allies but there is plenty of evidence of this incredible story in the area. The site of the original heavy water plant now houses a fascinating museum.
This Rjukan Top Tips climbing info certainly isn’t designed to give you all the info you’ll need, but here’s a few pointers to help you. The original Rockfax Heavy Water guidebook opened up Rjukan for English speaking climbers and it remains a great resource. The book sold out some time ago but you can download info here. Another great choice is the recently published Rjukan Selected Ice Climbs by Steve Broadbent (Oxford Alpine Club).
There are so many great options to suit all experience levels and abilities. From gentle introductory single pitch at Ozzimosis and Krokan through to engrossing long routes to suit experienced warriors. It is all there. There are routes that you get too simply by walking across the road and others that will feel like a Scottish approach. Many routes at the single pitch venues have tree anchors along the top and many have tat tied around them. Although take some spare as some of the stuff you’ll find is definitely rather suspect.
There is so much more we could say, but we hope our Rjukan Top Tips will provide some useful info for your visit. Happy climbing.