by S. Ancín
The trolls are the most popular imaginary creatures of Scandinavian mythology. They are so important that in Norway they even have their own road, the Trollstigen, a breathtaking route made up of eighteen 180º bends across the fjords and which each summer is filled with drivers hoping to discover its unique corners.
The Trollstigen or Trolls ladder is found in the Rauma municipality in Møre og Romsdal province and it is part of Norway’s 63rd highway that joins the towns of Åndalsnes and Valldal. This particular stretch is 18 kilometres long with an average slope of 4.4% (although it can reach 10% at some points) and it ascends to 850 metres above sea level.
The road is open from mid May until the end of November depending on the weather conditions which make it impossible to open for the rest of the year. Although the road surface is well maintained it is narrow and often slippery and with poor visibility. All these characteristics as well as its 18 hairpin bends make it a dangerous road even for the most experienced drivers and just encountering another vehicle coming the other way is a challenge in itself. As a result no vehicles are allowed if they are longer than 12.5 metres.
Along this road one can enjoy spectacular views of the fjords and surrounding mountains which have names such as Kongen (the king), Dronningen (The queen), Bispen (The bishop), Trollveggen (The Trolls’ wall), Romsdalshorn and Alnestind. At the top of the route one can relish on the beautiful panoramic views from the purpose made lookout point. Here one can also find a tourist centre which has its own museum, mountain refuge and restaurant.
The lookout point is a steel and glass structure that blends beautifully with the surroundings. Parts of it are directly carved on the rocks and on the stone walls. From here one can see the Stigfossen waterfall that flows 320 metres down the side of the mountain. In spring when the snow is melting at the top the water reaches the stone bridge above it making its crossing a very wet experience indeed.