The Seven Sisters form a majestic chain of peaks overlooking the shipping channel plied by the Hurtigruten. Thrusting their heads 1,000 metres above the shoreline, they form a dramatic backdrop to the myriad of islands and lush cultural landscape. Their beauty may be admired equally well from the deck of the Hurtigruten as from a bike out on one of the islands. As with all natural beauties, close contact brings the greatest pleasures .
Sisters by name
From north to south the Sisters are Botnkrona at 1,072 metres (3,517 ft), Grytfoten at 1,019 metres (3,343 ft), Skjæringen at 1,037 metres (3,402 ft), Tvillingene (The Twins) at 945 and 980 metres (3,100 ft and 32,15 ft), Kvasstinden at 1,010 metres (3,313 ft) and Breitinden at 910 metres (2,985 ft).
Glaciers, shingle and sand
The Sisters’ origins are to be found in the Ice Age; created by glaciers digging down into softer rocks, leaving the harder rocks behind, naked and scoured by the ice. The landscape around the Sisters some 20,000 years ago was a jumble of glacier tongues stretching in different directions, from which the peaks emerged as bare “nunataks”.
Passion turned to stone
According to popular belief, the Seven Sisters did, however, play a role in the legend of Nordland, the tale of how the mountains of Nordland came into being. The fiery horseman Hestmannen was pursuing the maid Lekamøya and the Seven Sisters. While Hestmannen was after Lekamøya, there is more than a suggestion that several of the sisters had taken a fancy to Hestmannen, the Adonis of the Lofoten Islands. The soap-like drama had a terrible ending, however, when the sun rose and all were turned into stone.
From Trøndelag to the Lofoten Islands
Botnkrona, the highest of the Seven Sisters, offers the broadest panorama, with the Vega Archipelago, Mount Torghatten and the far-north hills of Trøndelag visible to the south. Out over the sea in the west are spread the myriad islands, islets and skerries of the Helgeland coast up to the three mountain peaks at Træna. The 1,916 metre-high (6,286 ft) Oksskolten, the highest peak in Northern Norway, lies to the east. To the north is the great Svartisen Glacier, and on a clear day you can see the Lofoten mountains.
Tackle a sister
The Seven Sisters are not particularly difficult to climb for people of average fitness and mobility. If you have little experience of mountain hiking, it may however be wise to avoid the airy part of the climb on Kvasstinden. Well-marked trails lead from Botn at Sandnessjøen up and down all seven peaks to Søvika, south of the airport in Sandnessjøen. There are also a number of marked parking spaces. The tourist information office in Sandnessjøen sells walking maps drawn up by Sandnessjøen og Omegn Turistforening (Sandnessjøen and Surrounds Tourism Association).
Seven sisters on one walk
Walking the entire range, ascending and descending all the peaks, is a challenge for all reasonably fit and reasonably experienced mountain hikers. Most will manage the entire trip in 10 to 15 hours, although the record is an impressive three hours fifteen minutes. A detailed route description is available from the tourist information office, which awards a certificate to everyone who completes the hike of all seven peaks.
Sandnessjøen and Alstahaug
Sandnessjøen is a pleasant coastal town along the Kystriksveien (Coastal Route) which is also a port of call for the Hurtigruten boats. Sandnessjøen has hotels, places to eat, and an airport with direct scheduled flights to Oslo. South of the most southerly of the Seven Sisters lies historic Alstahaug, with its 12th century church, 18th century parsonage, and the Petter Dass Museum, commemorating Northern Norway’s great 17th century parson poet. At the tourist information office in Sandnessjøen you can hire a bike and then take a boat out to one of the many delightful little islands.
Helgeland Reiseliv has lots of interesting and useful information on its website: http://www.visithelgeland.com/