The “Sherpatrappa”, built by Nepalese sherpas, is an easy, yet rewarding climb in Tromsø.
The path where Sherpatrappa, “the Sherpa steps”, in Tromsø is located today has always been a popular one for the local population of Tromsø. In fact, it became so popular that wear and tear was noticed on the path. It thus became the basis for building a more sustainable path that could accommodate more visitors. The result were the sherpa stairs that starts directly behind the landmark Arctic Cathedral.
The Sherpa steps in Tromsø starts in Tromsdalen
There are many ways to reach Sherpatrappa. You can walk from the centre of town across the bridge towards Tromsdalen, and you will find the start of the tour close to the Arctic Cathedral, at the top of the street Fløyvegen. You can of course also go to Sherpatrappa by bicycle, then you follow the same path as if you were walking. Park at the bottom of the path leading up to the stairs. Here you can lock your bike.
You also reach the steps by bus
You get the closest if you take a bus. Take bus 26 from the Havnegata street in the centre of Tromsø, and get off at the stop Fløyvegen. NB! The bus has a winding route, and it may look like you are driving in the wrong direction. But a few stops later you see that you are on the right track. Get off and follow Fløyvegen south to the end of the street, where there is a bicycle parking lot and a sign pointing the way.
The start of the Sherpa steps
In fact, the stairs themselves start a little way up the path on the Fjellaksla hillside. You don’t have to walk many metres from the sign showing the direction of Sherpatrappa, before you find the stone-paved path. There are several benches and resting areas along the way. There is thus no need to rush, you can enjoy the views that keep getting better as you climb.
Don’t stray from the steps
The Sherpa steps were built to prevent the trail from being worn down. As the stairs have become popular, some people have walked outside the stone paving. This has lead to renewed wear and tear. One might feel the strain in thighs and knees from climbing and above all descending so many stairs. There are rest areas along the way, so step aside and rest before you go on. In this way, the terrain is spared and your footprint diminished.
The top of Sherpatrappa is the top of the cable car
When you get to the top of Sherpatrappa, you will also come to the upper station of the cable car. Here you will find a cafe where you can buy ice cream, dinner or just something to drink. For those who want to go for an extra walk, it is nice to walk for a little extra hour up towards Bønntuva. You can easily see where the path goes up, but you must take advantage of the opportunity to take a photo of Tromsø and your gang first if the weather is nice!
Walk the Sherpa Stairs in the midnight sun in summer
Tromsø has the midnight sun for most of the summer, and this opens up many exciting hiking opportunities. The hike is of course the same as during the day, but the low sun creates a magical light when the conditions are right. The midnight sun photographed from Mount Storsteinen is a classical view, and you should definitely stay up at night to experience it.
Spellbound by the Midnight Sun
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Watch the autumn Northern Lights from the steps
I mild autumn nights from the end of August onward, you can climb the Sherpatrappa steps with a headlamp to see the Northern Lights. The city lights seen between the black silhouettes of the trees can be really beautiful. There are plenty of stopping points to look down on the city, and with some luck see the Northern Lights. As long as the temperatures in town are a few degrees above freezing, you can do the hike in regular hiking boots. If the temperature is around freezing, there is a chance of slippery ice on the steps. Then you either cancel or wear proper, heavy duty spikes.
Sherpatrappa is a social activity for the whole family
If you are on a trip with the family or a group of friends, Sherpatrappa is a natural stop on your holiday in Tromsø. If someone in the group does not have the opportunity or desire to go Sherpatrappa, they can simply take the mountain lift up and meet you at the top. Maybe you take the mountain lift down together again, or if you go down the stairs together?
Can you do the Sherpa steps in winter?
The Sherpatrappa was built for Summer-Autumn use, when there is no snow. If the weather is mild in November, you can still climb the steps provided you have proper hiking boots. The problem, however, is ice and snow. After a frost night, the steps may have a treacherous ice layer. Or the steps are filled with dynamite-hard ice and snow after variable winter weather. Maybe you manage to get up, but are completely stuck when going down. Broken legs and rescue operations by helicopter happen every winter. Almost everyone in trouble has slippery shoes or are lacking in equipment. You move around the Norwegian nature at your own risk, this also goes for Sherpatrappa.
What gear do you need for climbing Sherpatrappa in winter?
You need solid winter shoes with a good grip. Crampons, or spikes, are also needed. The simple rubber spikes you buy cheaply walking the Tromsø streets are not good enough, you need the ones with chains. They can be purchased downtown. Poles with spikes are also a good idea to Headlamps are of course a must for night climbs, but if you go up at daytime in December-January, you might consider carrying one in your pocket. Days are short, and you don’t know how long the trip lasts. Finally, wear good clothes, and maybe an extra undershirt to change into after having sweated your way up the hillside.
Sometimes the Sherpa steps are closed
Sometimes every winter, there is a sign at the lower end of Sherpatrappa saying it’s closed. This is usually because of an avalanche risk in the upper most section. There is, however, no physical barrier, and no policeman stopping you. We still insist you respect the closure, it is there for your own safety. And of course, you can always use the Cable Car to reach the top.