Zagan the motorhome’s sat 850 metres up, in the visitor’s centre car park at the top of the Trollstigen mountain road, as the fickle Norwegian mists roll in and swirl around us (N62.45295, E7.66371). It’s a tiny bit exposed up here, but the parking area is large and at the moment there’s no wind. I love staying on mountain passes (thinking back to the Transfăgărășan Pass and the Susten Pass in particular). They’re places where an interesting, disparate bunch of folks are drawn, where raw nature feels close by, and where people always seem to be happy).
Trollstigvegen, or Trollstigen as seems to be more commonly used, is Norwegian for Troll’s Path or Troll’s Ladder in some places. I prefer the latter as it feels more appropriate. The road, opened back in the 1930’s to replace the horse track which snaked over the pass beforehand, has 11 hairpins, and when you look down on it from the magnificent viewpoint to my right, it brings out the sensation of a ladder leaned against a precipitous wall of rock.
We came south up the ladder earlier on, getting lucky with a break in the low cloud and mist as we swung back and forth up the mountainside. Ju videoed us coming up (we’ll upload it when we get some WiFi), and at the start asked how I felt about driving it. I might have come across a bit, ah, cocky, but we’ve been over a few passes in the 2 or 3 years we’ve been on the road, and by far the scariest was the Col d’Allos. Why the wide eyes back then? Probably a combination of it it being one of the first high passes we’d hauled motorhome butt over, the lack of barriers, narrowness of the road, suicidal marmots and apparent impending snow-doom, but since then not much has scared me quite the same (the pass on the way to Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains came close last winter when it went all ice-and-snow-death at the top).
I got a good buzz coming up the hillside nevertheless, as my cockiness vanished, replaced with relaxed-ish concentration. Full-sized (12m) coaches drive up and down the route, so our 6m van had no problem. There are lots of passing places but we’re fairly late in the season now and with the poor weather the road was almost empty. No chance of snow at the moment, but the pass usually closes in October or November and doesn’t open again until May, when presumably it takes a rest from the constant pounding of us wheeled-wanderers.
At the top there’s a big old freebie car park, alongside a beautifully-designed tat shop, loo, cafe and of course a couple of simply stunning viewpoints. If you were to stand at the virgin site and point out a place where you’d like to levitate in the air and look out at nature’s wonder, that’s where the Norwegian’s have built a platform (if any Norwegians want a hug, come on in, we’d gladly hug you all). Glass end panels and grids cut in the floor add to that ‘oh sheeeet’ sensation as you gain your turn to grip the edge and snap about with your camera. It’s just cracking. I’m off for another go, catch you later!