Photo by Lucas Vallecillos
Jostedalbreen is one of the oldest national parks in Norway and home to the largest glacier in continental Europe, about 60 kilometers in length and with a surface area of 437 square kilometers.
The 50 branches of the glacier include Bøyabreen, a huge mass of ice that emerges from the mountains at 1,648 meters and spills down the slope to form a lake with its thaw waters.
Beside the lake, I eat lunch at the Brevasshytta restaurant while I enjoy the sight of the blue mass of Bøyabreen’s oldest layers and listen to the creak of its activity. Jo Boyum Marius, son of the café’s owner, shows me some pictures of the glacier in the changing seasons and over the years. “We are about 150 meters from the glacier today,” he says. “But when my family opened the café in 1960, it was attached to it.” The Briksdalsbreen branch retreated dramatically between 1999 and 2007, losing more than 50 meters a year and threatening to separate from the main glacier body. Climate change is blamed.
To reach Geiranger, a small village in the western part of Norway which is home to the world-famous Geirangerfjord, we take the winding Gamle Strynefjellsvegen through mountains, lakes and heathlands, where the only sign of other people is the old stone walls they have left and the road itself. “This is for me the most beautiful mountain road in Norway,” says Anders, my guide. “You can only drive it in summer as it is closed in winter, until June. Until the 1950s, the snow was cleared by hand – 200 men with shovels – but of course we have snow-ploughs now.”
At Flydalsjuvet gorge, overlooking the Geirangerfjord, Anders insists on a photo, despite the apparent dangers of the precipice. “Sorry, I’ve been here many times and never had a picture taken with me in it,” he says, when he sees my concern. The scene in the camera viewfinder is overwhelming: Anders is on the edge of the gorge, behind which is the abyss of the fjord with the small town that bears its name. Two white dots are cruise ships at anchor, far below.
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