Trollsteinen, or The Troll Rock, is an oddly shaped mountain that’s close to the town of Longyearben in Svalbard. It’s my first hike in Svalbard after our arrival the previous day for a week stay in Svalbard, arranged through Svalbard Adventure Group.
I’m picked up from our hotel (Svalbard Hotell) at 9am; we have a group of seven people plus our guide. It’s a short drive up the Longyearben valley to the start of our walk at Nyben, at the end of the valley (the same starting point as our “fossil hike“). We cross the Longyearelva (Longyear River) and hike up a rough and wet trail on the side of Sarkofagen, the mountain which separates the Longyear and Lars glaciers. It’s reasonably easy walking, despite being a bit slippery in sections.
The a rough track that follows the foot of Sarkofagen, with the mountain to our right (west) and the Lars glacier on left. Trollsteinen is visible on the other side of Lars glacier, and looking back beyond the foot of the glacier there’s Sukkertoppen on the right and in the distance the mountains on the other side of Adventfjorden.
About 2km from the start of the hike, at the far end of Sarkofagen, we put micro-spikes over shoes and head across the Lars glacier, with Trollsteinen directly in front of us.
It’s fairly flat across the glacier and there are no crevasses, so we don’t need to be roped up for the 500m crossing. The town of Longyearben and Adventfjord is now directly below us. At the top of the Lars glacier is the 876m peak of Lars Hiertafjellet, named after Lars Johan Hierta (a Swedish writer, politician and patron of science).
On the far side of the Lars glacier is the final, and steepest, section of the hike up the ridge to the 850m peak of Trollsteinen. It’s fairly easy walking on hard-packed snow with the aid of our micro-spikes (would be tough-going without them). To the east are views of wind-swept mountains as far as the eye can see – you can see the big difference between the snow-covered north face of the mountains, and the barren, wind-swept southern flanks.
As we cover the final kilometre up the narrow ridge, the view back over Adventfjord continues to improve with the increase in elevation.
Finally, the rocky outcrop of Trollsteinen is reached, 850m above sea level. The path along the narrow ridge can be clearly seen below.
We stop here to admire the view and have a hot drink.
The top of Trollsteinen is now free of snow… in winter the entire rock is one big, white block.
After our break, we return the same way. At the edge of the Lars glacier we have time to get close to some of the crevasses that have been carved by the melting water. (In winter the channels are frozen, creating spectacular ice caves that can be visited; our guide tells us how last season one of the leaders froze an entire cod and put it in one of the caves, telling visitors it had been uncovered from the last ice age!)
The entire walk takes about six hours, including many breaks to cater for everyone’s walking pace.
Accommodation near Trollsteinen
Longyearbyen (Svalbard) offers a range of accommodation, and for most activities (including guided hikes) you’ll be picked up from your hotel, or a central point in town. Most of the hotels are located in the middle of town. As well as independent booking sites (which may offer better rates), you can find a list of hotels, guesthouses and cabins in Svalbard at Visit Svalbard.