A mountain with personality
The people of Tromsø have a passionate relationship with their very own “city mountain”. The sun starts shining on “Tinden”, as the locals call it, several days before it returns to the city itself at the end of January, after the long weeks of darkness. An early fall of snow on Tinden in August is a sign of the coming winter. Tromsdalstinden also has a Sami name, Sálasoaivi, which may possibly mean “arms”, or “embrace”. The ridge on the way to the summit also resembles an encircling “embrace”, although the mountain’s name has not been satisfactorily interpreted.
Long march up the valley
We got a lift to the barrier, at the end of the Turistveien road in the Tromsdalen valley, on Tromsø’s continental side. Then we walked for a good half-hour further up the valley along forest trails to the signpost at the far end of the valley.
Summer route to the top
We chose the short, brutal way up. Soon after leaving the signpost we hit the first steep part of the route and breathed heavily as we trudged through the birch forest. Mosquitoes, horseflies and flies buzzed around us in great swarms, but then disappeared as we left the tree line behind.
Up over the ridge
At the foot of the ridge we saw other hikers, who looked like tiny ants, far above us. Peat gradually gave way to rocks and scree. Half-way up, the summit towered above us, while we gasped at the sight of the sheer drops on the other side of the ridge.
Finally, around three-and-a-half hours after setting off, we reached the top. The reward was worth the effort; not only did we see the city of Tromsø far below, but also on the other side the Lyngen Alps rising to 1,800 metres (6000 ft), with glaciers glinting among the peaks, as well as all the islands of central and northern Troms visible towards the west. It was a great moment up there, and we had to ring home to Mum and tell her about it.
If you want to hike up Tinden, follow the Turistveien road from the Arctic Cathedral. Where the paved road stops there is a barrier, and beyond that you can only walk or cycle. Experienced Tinden hikers cycle a good part of the way to save time, and then padlock their bikes to a tree at the signpost a good half-hour up the valley trail.
Winter and summer routes
For the ascent you can choose between two routes: the winter route and the summer route. We chose to take the summer route up and the winter route down. The winter route is longer, but with a gentler slope and less scree. Both routes are well marked with red arrows and signs painted on the rocks, and on fine days there are quite a lot of hikers to be seen. It took us seven hours to get to the summit and back, including a good half-hour’s lunch break at the very top and several short rest breaks along the way, and our group can be described as about average in terms of fitness.
Should you climb Tinden?
Ascending Tinden in the summer is not particularly risky, since the topography of the mountain is easy to read. However, you should not attempt the climb in poor visibility, as there are sheer drops of hundreds of metres on the back side of the mountain. On fine days, there are also more people about, which makes it safer. Keen skiers also choose to ascend the mountain in winter, although you need to be an expert skier to do it, on both the ascent and descent. Finally, it is an advantage to be reasonably fit, since it is, after all, a 1,200-metre (4000ft) climb.
Up the valley we followed in the traces of the earliest tourism in Tromsø, when the Sami from Karesuando in Sweden used areas of Tromsø’s mainland for summer pasture for their reindeer. This unusual sight attracted tourists from the Hurtigruten coastal steamers and the early cruise ships, who came by horse and carriage to view the exotic Sami. If the Sami were reluctant to pose for the camera, the carriage-drivers would sometimes haul them out of their turf huts by force.
Visit Tromsø-region's, the local tourist information's, website is packed with Tromsø information.