Uncovering the Norwegian Philosophy of På Loffen in the Sunnmøre Alps

In the latest Amundsen Field Test, a group of hikers embrace the concept of wandering without objective among stunning fjords, valleys, and peaks

Uncovering the Norwegian Philosophy of På Loffen in the Sunnmøre Alps


Christian Løvenskiold


Trygve Markset

Presented by

It was no accident that we found ourselves in one of Norway's most breathtaking landscapes: the Sunnmøre Alps. The region was first visited recreationally in the 1800s by the British climbing pioneer William Slingsby, known for teaching Norwegians a new way of engaging with the surrounding fjords, valleys, and peaks. What Norwegians saw then as mundane, Slingsby saw as an endless playground; unclimbed peaks in all directions sparked an infatuation with Sunnmøre.

Slingsby inspired many through his advocacy for the grandeur of Sunnmøre, including us—a small Field Team from Amundsen, who found ourselves trekking through the heart of his beloved landscape. But, getting there was one of the few plans we made for this trip; visitors to Sunnmøre, we knew, benefit from leaving a strict itinerary at home.

One of the few details we did have in mind was to set off from the small village of Sæbø towards a family farm at Skår, that consisted of a cluster of farmhouses nestled into one of the few habitable places on the western end of the Hjørundfjorden, a 22-mile long fjord.

"The beauty of the view affirmed that luxury, if you adjust your definitions, is only a short hike away."


Rising nearly 5,000 feet into the sky, the hills shoot up dramatically from the waterline, making the identification of a single plot of farmable land a true challenge. It’s humbling to envision the adversity which these farmers endured simply to make ends meet in such unforgiving terrain. For us, it added another dimension to the breathtaking view: a legacy of resilience founded by those who braved the challenges posed by their beautiful, yet harsh, homeland.

We had set our sights next on the Skårasetra (another of the few details in this trip's plan), a collection of small hiking huts flanked to the west by the majestic mountain Skårasalen, towering 5,000 feet above. In preparation for our ascent to our sleeping quarters, we were served Skår farm's “pizza specialty” lunch—which had a topping of local deer—as well as the more unorthodox klippfisk (salted and dried cod). Our fabulous chef was Johan Skår, who is also a wonderful storyteller and hut master. As we ate, he pinpointed the most mesmerizing element of these fjords and peaks, a concept he calls øredøvende stillhet—the deafening sound of silence…





By going up, we were heading to its very source. Stomachs full, we bushwhacked through thickets and scrambled past waterfalls until we finally reached the ledge where our simple shelter awaited us. The beauty of the view affirmed the notion that luxury, if you adjust your definitions, is only a short hike away.

We spent the rest of the afternoon glissading (sliding down snow-covered hills, without skis) on the most stubborn remnants of the winter’s snowpack. After enjoying the day’s final hours of early summer sun, we prepared a traditional hunter’s stew for dinner (a meal that's quickly becoming an Amundsen classic) and succumbed to the enchanting allure of Sunnmøre’s øredøvende stillhet. Johan’s description came to life as the wind, waterfalls, and rivers began their evening concert, creating a perfect harmony.



As the light of the following morning began to fall in sheets over the land, the peaceful beginning of a new day further convinced us of Sunnmøre’s granduer. Perhaps this is what Slingsby saw on his first visit here. The smell of coffee and firewood, the sun peaking over the rolling hills, and a postcard view, set the tone for another day in the Sunnmøre Alps.

The landscape was wide and open, and so was our day. Should we go east or west? Up or down? Intentionally, we subscribed to the philosophy of på loffen during our time in the field—or wandering without objective. When on loffen you take breaks whenever you feel like it, you enjoy the view, you take the path less traveled, you take the longer route. It’s not very often anymore, unfortunately, that we can live the life of a vagabond.


"We were thankful for på loffen—no plan, no goals, just the pursuit of living closely with nature."


After a cowboy breakfast, we set our sights on the hills surrounding our hut. We forded streams, slid down more sections of spring snow, stopped for a snack, and enjoyed the views. Below us, we could see the Hjørundfjorden winding inland, creating a maritime highway that settlers used centuries ago. We wondered how daunting it must have been to discover these endless fjords before they were mapped, when with every peninsula portaged, a new fjord unveiled itself.

Inspired by these notions of exploration of old, we charted a course towards the fjord. We had more of Sunnmøre to explore. The next feature of the landscape which caught our eye was Egilbu, a rock shelter perched 3,000 feet atop the fjord’s ridgeline; we had a hunch it would be a perfect setting for dinner.

We filled our backpacks with the essentials for a traditional Norwegian Taco Friday (believe it or not, tacos are very popular in Norway) and started to climb up the ridge. Sunnmøre is infamous for its steep climbs—these ridges rise to dramatic heights straight from sea level and will keep your heart pumping. After zig-zagging through the spruce forest up to tree line, the never-ending views of Sunnmøre revealed themselves, as did the ridge we were meant to traverse.



The ascent up to the ridge contained a collection of “lure topper” (false summits); just when you think you’ve reached the top, an ever-higher point appears above and beyond it. But, it’s all worth it as the ridge fades and the majestic 5,000 foot Slogen Peak rises from the horizon. In The Northern Playground, Slingsby describes Slogen as “the most beautiful peak in Norway” and the proudest in all of Europe. After seeing it for ourselves, it's hard not to agree. Widely known as the ruler of the Sunnmøre Alps, summitting Slogen is a must for visiting hikers.

After arriving at the much anticipated rock shelter and settling in on the wooden platform to prepare dinner, Slogen Peak became our TV, iPhone, and tablet all in one; our attention was completely fixed on this beautiful peak. A perfect spectacle to accompany our (highly authentic) Nordic tacos. With our feet dangling over the ledge, Slogen to our left and Saksa, another must-hike in Sunnmøre, to our right we ate, laughed, and ate some more. Golden hour came in from the west, painting the landscape as we slid and jogged back down the ridge, surrounded by unforgettable views. With full stomachs and satisfied minds, we were thankful for på loffen—no plan, no goals, just the pursuit of living closely with nature.

Related articles
An Off-Grid Field Test with Amundsen, Deep in the Rugged Maine Backcountry
An Off-Grid Field Test with Amundsen, Deep in the Rugged Maine Backcountry

Exploring the North Woods by float plane, canoe and on foot to discover the Norwegian spirit of friluftsliv and turn a weekend in nature into eternity

From Italy to Oslo: Hiking Across Europe to Test Amundsen Boots
From Italy to Oslo: Hiking Across Europe to Test Amundsen Boots

The incredible tale of how Norwegian gear maker Amundsen tested their new boots on a 12-day trek from the Italian Dolomites to Norwegian fjords

More articles