Rabothytta is probably the DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) cabin with the boldest architectural lines, which it needs if it’s to compete with the landscape of the Okstindan mountain range in Helgeland.
After two to three hours trekking 500 m (1,640 ft) up from Leirskardalen over uneven scree, bog and bare rock, Rabothytta suddenly appears as a sculpture carved out of the landscape, with Okstindan’s 11 peaks measuring up to 1,916 m (6,286 ft) in the background and the Okstindbreen glacier close by. Its bold angles really stand out, while the grey tones in the wood compliment the surrounding stone scree. Thus, Rabothytta manages to both blend into and enrich the landscape.
Enjoying nature from inside the cabin
Inside the cabin, you are struck by the enormous windows. On a clear day, the Dønnamannen and Tomma mountains and many of Helgeland’s islands are visible from the living room. Okstindbreen seems to be just a stone’s throw from the kitchen table, with the mountaintops just behind. The colour and design of the walls, floors, ceilings, the long low sofa bench and the kitchen units are neutral — it’s the natural exterior landscape that acts as the décor and entertainment. Rabothytta does not shut nature out; rather, it is a safe and warm lookout point in the mountains.
A cabin on the site of an old camping ground
At a height of 1,200 m (3,937 ft) and just beside Okstindbreen, there is a large flat area where people used to pitch their tents and spend the night before setting off on a glacier hike. Hemnes Turistforening, the local branch of the DNT, wanted to build a new cabin here as an alternative to the simple stone hut further down the valley. This small association collaborated with local authorities, local businesses and many local supporters. The new cabin became a project for Hemnes to be proud of, and was named in honour of Charles Rabot, the French geographer and mountaineer who climbed the peaks of Okstindan in the 1800s and made them known outside Helgeland.
Cabin No. 500
Svein Arne Brygfjell of Hemnes Turistforening says that they wanted to build a cabin that was reflective of its location, landscape and nature, and that was a destination in itself. They approached two of Norway’s most renowned architectural companies, Snøhetta and Jarmund Vigsnæs. Jarmund Vigsnæs’ draft was selected. More cabins are associated with the DNT each year, and because of its strong architectural lines, Rabothytta was chosen as Cabin No. 500 at their national convention.
Adapted to the climate, maintenance-free and local
One criterion was for the mountains to be brought into the cabin, so that nature would not be blocked out. However, large windows are vulnerable, so they were constructed in order to withstand objects that become airborne during a storm. The building should also not require maintenance for fifty years. As such, the spruce cladding is not painted and will become greyer. The grey tones vary depending on the weather and atmospheric humidity, so the cabin looks different every time you see it. A local manufacturer supplied the glass, all of the furniture was made by a local carpenter and the spruce used to build the cabin was grown in the area.
Safe, spacious and self-sufficient
The cabin dimensions are dimensioned for a classroom, as Hemnes Turistforening wanted a learning arena for outdoor recreation, geography, natural science and interaction. When there are not many people in the cabin, most of it can be closed off and only one third of the cabin needs to be heated. Sometimes bad weather makes it dangerous to go outside: Both the woodshed and the modern bio toilet are part of the main building, so the storm can rage outside while you are safe and warm indoors. The cabin also features solar panels and a wind turbine, generating 230 volts of electricity without being on the grid. The entire cabin takes up just 150 square metres (1,615 square feet), and makes excellent use of space without having unnecessary corridors.
Rabothytta is one of over 500 cabins operated by the DNT in the Norwegian mountains and is one of four cabins in the Okstindan mountain range. You’ll need a key from the DNT to get in, although, during the busy season, a DNT volunteer acts as the cabin host. You need to bring all your own food with you as, apart from the occasional waffle, food is not available to buy. School or large groups must book in advance, but this is not necessary for couples or small groups. Rabothytta is a popular destination for day-trippers, and there is a small charge for one-day stays. Naturally, Rabothytta is also a fantastic starting point for hikes in Okstindan.