” May 1st 2014. We´re tired. The first week has given us a perfect weather window with great conditions for mountain ascends. Don´t misunderstand me, we´re very happy about this, however 40 hours of climbing in such a short period of time has taken a toll on our bodies. We´ve had a vertical week of labor, rising and setting with the sun. And for those familiar with Norway this time of year, you know that means long days. We’ve been up at the break of dawn and haven’t been back in our bags before late in the evening. Even though our bodies are sore, our heads are at the other end of the scale. The great experiences from the first week makes our anticipation for adventure grow, and our mental energy is already peaking.”
Two boys. 37 national parks. 80 days. Unfamiliar terrain, with tempting peaks to ascend. Gjermund Nordskar and Wenzel Prokosch are ready for the adventure of their lives and ready to set a new world record. Four months earlier the future looks quite different for Gjermund. After a cycling adventure in North India with two friends, he sets a whole different kind of record; the first within the Nordic countries to have four as serious infections in his body at once. While he´s hospitalized in the intensive care unit of Lillehammer Hospital a thought crosses his mind; Why travel half-way around the world when he has Norway’s unique nature right outside the door? And so the dream began of the national adventure.
At this point a lot of people have already walked the vertical line of Norway. However Gjermund and Wenzel wanted to experience the crème de la crème of the country. The gourmet of Norway, as they nicely put it. The 37 parks on the mainland offer a great variety of landscapes, and are protected for their unique placement and untouched nature. Gjermund also had a personal goal throughout this trip: to conquer the highest peak in every national park.
”Nothing ventured, nothing gained”
”May 10th 2014. 14 national parks are now visited and summited. We are way up north. The last week can be characterized by lots of wind and varied weather conditions. A storm blew in on our way to the top of Kvigtinden in Børgefjell National Park and we were forced to turn around. We´ll have to try again later when we´re heading back south. We´ve found shelter at a friend’s place in Bardufoss, and are now trying to map out the rest of the ascends of the national parks since you can´t expect to find a road all the way in to the area where you want to hike this far north. We’ll probably need to cross both the Swedish and Finish boarders to access some of the highest peaks around here. This is definitely a demanding pioneering project. The contrasts are vast and sometimes we have to dig deep to find our strength, but in return the rewards are amazing and unique experiences.”
The boys packed their bags and embarked on their great adventure by the end of April. The first national park on their list was Rondane, the oldest park in Norway. They would spend the summer months travelling around seeing as you can imagine, one is quite dependent on the weather gods during a project like this. Then follow the remaining mountain parks in the midst of Norway, before the course took a turn heading north where the guys visited amongst others Øvre Pasvik, situated on the border of Finland and Russia, and Varangerhalvøya in Finnmark.
May 17th, two very happy guys are waving the Norwegian flag and enjoying the view from the top of the most northern park on mainland Norway; Varangerhalvøya. It´s time to move south once again, even though the guys would´ve preferred a little more time north of the polar circle. On their way south they try to reach the top in Øvre Dividalen for the third time. Yet another day with demanding conditions, but this time the southwest top of ”Njunis” at 1681 meters is finally conquered.
” May 21st 2014. 19 parks are now summited. That means that we´re actually half ways! The weather plays an important role going forward, so we´re crossing fingers that the weather gods will continue to smile. Two skis and two tent poles have been broken, an example of how the equipment as well as our bodies are being pushed to its limits. It´s sad to leave the beautiful northern part of Norway but we´re excited to travel towards milder temperatures and a warmer climate. Øvre Anarjohka at the plateau of Finnmark gave us a taste of summer with only two days on skis. The day after we fought through the dense bush in Øvre Pasvik. Memories for life in the making”.
The boys continue their travels through the national parks and after a while they trade in skiing for swimming and fishing in Senja. Rago National Park outside Bodø offers a hike where the use of a rowing boat, canoe and skis are all necessary to reach the top. Saulo in Junkerdalen National Park requires a long day of hiking followed by a 1100 meter climb to reach the summit. However the most airy peak of the adventure still awaits: Sjunkhatten in Sjunkhatten National Park. They need more equipment. After a lot of phone calls back and forth combined with a lot of waiting, the pieces finally fall into place and a good friend of Gjermund and Wenzel joins them. One boat ride, 20 hours in the wilderness and tens of climbing pitches later, they reach the summit and descend, all in one piece. Finally they can lower their shoulders and continue on with the adventure.
”June 22nd 2014. 35 of the 37 national parks of Norway are now explored and conquered! What remains are the two coast parks Ytre Hvaler and Færder National Park, in respectively Østfold and Vestfold. The last parks in Northern Norway, Lomsdal-Visten and Børgefjell showed us some interesting weather changes. But this time, back in Børgefjell with no skis the weather gods finally allowed us to enter the summit of Kvigtinden. In a short weather window at the top we got a full panorama view. Several shrieks of joy later the wind did its part in our quick descend. Trøndelag showed itself from the wet side. Marsh and rain made sure our boots doubled their weight and were continuously wet for three days. The landscape was diverse with the combination of untouched nature, spruce trees, pine trees, marsh, rivers and mountains. It ought to be said that the mountains of Norway often greet you with three different seasons in a day. To be expected when one sets out to visit the tallest peaks and most weathered places in Norway´s 37 national parks.”
”Sometimes it´s the dream that makes you reach your goal”
”June 27th 2014. 37 national parks. 37 national peaks. 70 days. This week we summited the last two parks furthest south together with a couple of good friends. Eyvind Bjørnstad and the Ocean Kayak Club in Tønsberg welcomed us with open arms, and made sure everyone got first class kayak equipment and kayak guiding along the way. We started from Fjørholmen by Nøtterøy on Monday and crossed the fjord of Oslo through Fulehuk lighthouse. Tuesday we were all gathered at the highest point of Ytre Hvaler National Park at a modest 65,5 meters. Even so the view of the fjord was stunning. As we couldn´t find the name of this little peak we called it ”Lynghø”. The last strokes of paddling were taken, fittingly enough outside ”The end of the world”. Wednesday we paddled out to the Great Færder, where Matkollen is the highest point of the island. This is where we reached our dream of the national parks, and we celebrated with Champagne and a panorama view from the top! We´re happy. I´m healthy and we´ve conquered a great dream. The adventure of experiencing and summiting the 37 national parks of Norway in less than 80 days was successfully ended yesterday, 10 days within our time limit.”
”Seek happiness, it does not come of its own. Welcome to nature”