A tourist from Lithuania has died after falling at Norway’s world-famous Trollstigen pass in the mountainous west of the country. The 40-year-old man’s death occurred just as the famous tourist site gears up for one of its busiest ever summer seasons.
Local police confirmed on Twitter that the man was walking together with two others when he fell into the river that runs alongside the tourist route. “When taking a picture, the man fell backwards over a railing and down into the river. He was basically walking on safe ground, but was unfortunate and lost his balance,” said Vebjørn Bale, Police chief of Rauma district to NRK. The man was swept away by the river, which had a large volume of water because of the high amount of snowmelt. The body was found soon after the incident by emergency services a short distance along the river from where he fell.
This is far from the only incident involving tourists in Norway in recent years. Many foreign visitors are unaware of the demanding hike required to reach the Trolltunga rock formation, with search and rescue operations a regular occurrence. Those that do make the trip often pose for dramatic photos on the cliff edge. In 2015, an Australian backpacker fell more than 2,000 feet to her death in what a Norwegian tour guide told The Telegraph was “an accident waiting to happen.”
A popular tourist attraction
Trollstigen, known in English as the Troll’s Path, is a serpentine mountain road climbing to more than 2,800 feet above sea level by way of 11 hairpin bends. Opened by King Haakon VII back in 1936, parts of the road are cut into the mountain and others cross stone walls. An attractive natural stone bridge carries visitors past Stigfossen waterfall. At the summit of Stigrøra, a visitor center with steel walkways and overhanging terraces has been constructed to give tourists panoramic views of the road and valley below. Photo opportunities are countless, which often causes traffic jams on the road itself.
Local travel spokesperson Hilde Gråberg Bakke told NRK that up to 800,000 visitors are expected during this year’s opening period. Trollstigen is a common starting point for some of the best known hikes in the Romsdal valley. Campsites at the base of the mountain make the area a common base for exploring the area, with the Geirangerfjord, Åndalsnes and the Juvet Landscape Hotel all within reasonable driving distances.
Improving emergency coverage
Because of the remote location and mountainous surroundings, some of the approach roads have been without cell coverage, making emergency calls problematic. This is set to change soon as Nordic mobile operator Telia has won a contract to supply coverage to a seven-mile stretch of road by Trollstigen. Because of the national park status of the area, the power supply for the transmitters will be based on solar cells and wind turbines.
“We are very proud and are looking forward to being able to provide full voice and mobile data coverage along this stretch, so that everyone who travels there can do so safely with the assurance that they can use the phone if they need to,” said a Telia spokesperson in a press release.
Trollstigen is part of the designated national scenic route between Åndalsnes and Geiranger. The pass itself is closed from the first snowfall of the season through to late Spring. The closure usually happens in November and lasts until early May, meaning the road is often open for less than half the year.