The majestic pyramidal mountain Store Knutsholstind, also known as Knutsholstinden, is the highest one of the mountain range Knutsholstindane’s three peaks. This staggering 2341 meter giant is also known as the king of the Gjende Alps – a mountain range between Gjende and Bygdin in the southeastern part of Jotunheimen – as it is higher than all of its surrounding mountains. From the top there are spectacular views of the magnificent surroundings, and on clear days one can even see all the way to Nordmarka near Oslo.
Knutsholstinden was originally thought to be Norway’s highest mountain, but it is in actuality the 13th highest one.
“The king of the Gjende Alps” has been the root of disputes between mountaineers back in the days, as it was originally thought to be the region’s most demanding peak to climb. Johannes Heftye with companions first climbed the “unclimbable” mountaintop in the summer of 1875. This achievement was however overshadowed by mountaineer William Cecil Slingsby in 1876, when he became the first to climb Store Skagastølstind (2405 m). Heftye insisted that said mountain was on a different level entirely – way more demanding than Knutsholstinden. Later he even brought a local milkmaid on his ascent to Knutsholstinden, to prove that it was “a ladies peak”.
Today there is no question that Store Skagastølstinden is a far more demanding peak to climb. While it is an arena for climbers, Knutsholstinden is a peak reachable for most people – given that they have some mountain hiking experience. The mountaintop is not amongst the easiest ones, and for some it may appear rather steep. However, the ascent is not technically challenging if one follows the common route to the top.
“The king of the Gjende Alps” is located in Jotunheimen National Park, in the municipality of Vågå.
The most common route to the top of this majestic giant follows the west flank from Svartdalen. Between Gjendebu and Torfinnsbu – the two most common starting points – there is a marked path that runs through Svartdalen, which is said to be the most beautiful valley in all of the national park.
To start your ascent to Knutsholstinden, you leave the path behind by the small lake in the north of Svartdalen, and follow the markings up the west flank to the top. This path is not as clearly marked as a regular DNT path, therefore it is important to pay close attention, especially at the beginning of the ascent. Further up however, the path up to the peak gets easier to make out. But in the case of poor visibility, one should be extra careful. If one strays too far of the track, there are several steep slopes that can cause problems. Particularly on the way down, one may easily lose track of the path in certain places. The route up to the peak is also over all quite steep, with occasional slippery spots, and a lot of loose rock.
From Gjendebu the trip to Knutsholtinden is approximately 8 kilometres each way, with an elevation of almost 1400 meters, and takes anywhere from 6-8 hours. From Torfinnsbu 7-9 hours is to be expected.
Whom the trip fits for
Though not technically challenging, the hike is considered demanding. The climb up and down the mountain is generally steep (as is the descent down from Svartdalen to Gjendebu), and requires endurance from the hikers. The hike is only recommended for people in good physical health, preferably with some mountain hiking experience.
When to go
As the journey is dependent on boats, the season begins in June, when snow and ice has melted in the area, and lasts throughout September. As with other popular destinations, there will be more traffic during high season (July and August) and on weekends, whilst weekdays and low(er) season is quieter.
One should note that this hike becomes extra demanding in certain weather conditions. In rainy weather it can get quite difficult, as the rocks one walks on get wet and slippery.
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