Reports and photos from Top Europe Jun-Aug 2003
(due to our capacity some reports are translated to English yet) 

Photo album

Planned route

28. Jul 2003 (22.00 CET) - Andorra
Petter called me and had some additional information about Coma Pedrosa that he forgot to write in the report. This illustrates how difficult it is to know the real height of a mountain. The height differs from source to source, and that is also the reason why our list had wrong height for some of the mountains. When they arrived the summit earlier today they could read on a sign that the height of Coma Pedrosa is 2.941 m. Their map (a tourist map of Andorra) said 2.939 m. They met somebody on the top who had a topographical map, this said 2.946 m. Someone even had a book that described mountains in the region. This said that the height was 2.942 m. Petter told me that his GPS showed 2.940 m, so they had 5 different heights to chose among. We have decided to use the height written on the summit, unless there is new official published height. Therefore the height of Coma Pedrosa must be 2.941 m. This have to be correct since their GPS has shown 1-2 meters less than the real heights during the whole expedition. Here is the report from the last real mountain in the Top Europe expedition:
Pic de Coma Pedrosa in Andorra
The highest mountain in the small principality of Andorra is called Coma Pedrosa and is 2.941 m high. Andorra is located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain.

Most of the Sunday we spent driving from Monaco to Andorra. The climate in the highland of Andorra is a bit cooler than the previous countries, and it was good to escape from the heat we had felt the last couple of days. Before we went to bed at a camping place in Xixerella, we used some hours trying to find a good route up the mountain. This night we slept very well because of the temperature. We haven't unpacked the tent one time during the whole expedition. We love to sleep outside in the free nature when the weather allows.

Coma Pedrosa is the last real mountains during our expedition. Therefore we wanted to take a real hard route to the top. We found a rout where we had to do some climbing. We started from Arinsal at around 1600 m. Up the valley we followed a road to the Estany hut at 2050 m. The last 900 elevation meters is very steep and we had to use both hands and feet to reach the top. This has to be the last climbing experience in the Top Europe expedition.

Vi took another rout during descent. We followed an edge that gave us a great view towards the Pyrenees. We also saved our bad knees by taking a lift the last part. We had a great experience and on our way down we saw 5 eagles at close range.

Now we and our Chevy van have turned our noses northwards. We're longing home to Norwegian summer. We still have many miles to drive, but we try to reach Luxembourg by tomorrow (Tuesday) night. Wednesday/Thursday we will ascent the hills in the Benelux-countries and Friday we will be in Denmark, if everything goes as planned...

27. Jul 2003 (23.00 CET) - Report from Monaco
This text is not translated to English yet.

26. Jul 2003 (23.00) - Reports from Vatican and the Azores
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24. Jul 2003 (23.00) - Ponta do Pico summited
This text is not translated to English yet.

23. Jul 2003 (23.00) - Report from Malta
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23. Jul 2003 (14.00) - Malta
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22. Jul 2003 (09.00) - Rome and the Vatican
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21. Jul 2003 (15.30) - Report from San Marino
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21. Jul 2003 (10.30) - San Marino
Monte Titano were summited this morning. They are now driving to Rome.

20. Jul 2003 (16.00) - San Marino here we come
The boys did not need much rest after climbing Mont Blanc. They are already on their way to San Marino where they will climb Monte Titano, 739 meters high. Mont Blanc and Mont Blanc de Courmayeur were summited as planned yesterday. The Italian top (de Courmayeur) happened to be more difficult than we thought. They used 3 hours up and down from the summit that is not far from the main summit of Mont Blanc.

We are a little embarrassed to admit that our Norwegian mountain, Galdhoepiggen, was not included in the total elevation meters on our home page. It's now corrected. The vikings have around 8.000 elevation meters left before they have completed Europe. Only two of the remaining mountains are higher than 1000 meters. Later this evening we will give you report and pictures from the French and the Italian national top.

19. Jul 2003 (23.00) - Mont Blanc summited
Mont Blanc and Mont Blanc de Courmayeur were both summited today. We will give you the report tomorrow. I assume the group is down in Chamonix now.

18. Jul 2003 (16.00) - On their way to Monte Blanc
In this moment Petter, Torbjoern and Gisle are on their way up Mont Blanc, the highest mountain during the expedition. They will spend the night up in the mountain before go for the summit tomorrow. The same day they will cross the border to Italy and summit the Italian national top, Mont Blanc de Courmayeur. This summit is located only a few 100m from the main summit of Mont Blanc.

17. Jul 2003 (21.00) - Monte Rosa
The boys have during the evening driven to Chamonix in France. Tomorrow they plan to start the climbing of Mont Blanc. Here is their report from Switzerland:
Dufourspitze in Switzerland
Monte Rosa is a huge mountain massif. The highest peak is called Dufourspitze and is 4.634 meters high. The Swiss Alps has several peaks above 4.000 m. Matterhorn, located close to Monte Rosa, is the most famous of them. We had a great view against Matterhorn during our ascent.

We parked our car in Täsch. From Täsch we took the train to Zermatt, a little town with a crowd of tourists. From Zermatt we took another train up to Rotenboden, around 2.800 m a.s.l. The route from Rotenboden goes up a valley, crossing a glacier, and up to Monte Rosa Hut. It took us around 2 hours getting there.

In the hut we met Oeyvind Sandbakk, a Norwegian cross-country skier together with his Swiss girlfriend, Silvana Bucher. They are both very promising skiers and are preparing for the coming season. We decided to join them up to the summit the day after.

We slept on a overcrowded room, and had only a few hours sleep before we woke up at 2 am. The glacier had a lot of crevasses. It was difficult finding the way through the dangerous labyrinth. The return was easier, because we could follow our own footprints. Just before the top edge there were two steep icefalls, up to 50%. The wind was hard. Silvana decided to turn around. She was not comfortable climbing this sort of glacier. She waited for us in a snow cave while we continued to the summit. We also met a group of four persons who also had turned around. They were anxious for the strong wind.

The top edge was much harder than we had expected. It was not very technical, but it went up and down all the time, and the wind and the thin air made it even more difficult. Luckily the wind was did not increase, but clouds were covering the summit. We used twelve hours before we came down to the hut again. We did not want to sleep another night in the over-crowded hut, so we walked another two hours back to Rotenboden. We will now spend the night in a comfortable hotel in Täsch. Good night!

16. Jul 2003 (18.55) - Monte Rosa summited
I just got and SMS from which reads: "Monte Rosa OK! Resting day tomorrow." 

We will wait until tomorrow to publish report and pictures from Switzerland. I am sorry that our plan previously had wrong altitude for Dufourspitze. The correct should be 4.634 m, 5 meter below what our list said. I assume that  Petter&co could confirm this tomorrow.

16. Jul 2003 (18.30 CET) - Monte Rosa
Hopefully the group have summited Monte Rosa today and are on their way back to Zermatt. I've not heard from them today, but I will update their status as soon as I hear from them. 

15. Jul 2003 (17.00 CET) - Monte Rosa Hut
Torbjoern told me (from Switzerland) that they were ready to start the first leg on Monte Rosa. They were ascending to the Monte Rosa Hut. The weather was bad wind, rain and clouds in the mountain. They were optimistic though and were hoping for better weather tomorrow. The huge rock fall in Matterhorn today has attracted attention among climbers in the Alps. Luckily nobody was hurt in this accident, but it tells us to be aware of dangers when climbing in high and steep mountains.

If the weather is good tomorrow, they will try to summit Dufourspitze and return to Zermatt. They also want to change the original plan climb Mont Blanc before leaving the Alps. That means that they will use Thursday driving to Chamonix and to climb the first leg. Friday will be the first opportunity to summit Mont Blanc. But all this is depending on good weather. In case of bad weather they will have to wait.

15. Jul 2003 (11.30
CET) - Report from Grauspitze
Grauspitze in Liechtenstein:
Grauspitze is the highest mountain in Liechtenstein. It is 2.599 meters high and is located on the Swiss border in the south. Liechtenstein is a small Principality, only 160 km2, and has borders to Switzerland and Austria.

We arrived Vaduz, the capital, late Sunday evening. The castle where the Prince lives, is placed on a height just outside the city center. A local told us that in this little country almost everybody knew each other. He showed us a park where we could camp. This park had WC, drinking water and wood, everything was free. We had a good night sleep here in this park, and nobody disturbed us.

Monday morning we had no problem locate the mountain. In the valley Malbun, we got the information that we needed from a Norwegian lady who had moved here some time ago. We were told that two mountains close to Grauspitze were much more visited. These summits were marked with crosses, but Grauspitze had no cross marking it's summit.

The weather was very nice, one of our best climb so far during the expedition. We parked the car in a little place called Steg. After walking up the valley for around an hour, we were all alone. Nobody else were climbing Grauspitze this day. The summit ridge were long and steep and involved some easy climbing. On the summit we found a pile of rocks and a guest book. We missed a symbol that showed us that this was the highest peak in Liechtenstein. We wrote a whole page in the guest book telling this, hoping to get the Prince to put up a sign or a cross on the summit of Grauspitze.

We sat on the top for a long time, enjoying the excellent view towards Liechtenstein and Switzerland. It was the 23rd mountain during our expedition, only 13 to go!

14. Jul 2003 (19.15 CET) - Grauspitze summited
The boys are now on their way down from Grauspitze in Liechtenstein. It was a beautiful mountain. We will give you report pictures from the mountain tomorrow.

They will now continue to Switzerland where the highest point is Dufourspitze in the Monte Rosa massif. It is the only mountain besides Mont Blanc where they plan to use two days. It is also the most technical difficult mountain during the whole expedition.

14. Jul 2003 (18.20 CET) - New pictures in our photo album 
We just added some new pictures from Romania and Macedonia/Albania. There are also new pages for the last mountains. As soon as the group is able to find a faster Internet connection, we will be able to give you more pictures from the latest mountains.

13. Jul 2003 (23.00
CET) - Germany and Zugspitze
The vikings summited Zugspitze today. They are one day ahead of schedule. In fact they are already in Liechtenstein and are trying to climb Grauspitze tomorrow. Here is their report from the German mountain:
Zugspitze in Germany
Zugspitze is 2.963 m high. The highest mountain in Germany is located on the border to Austria in the south close to the famous ski resort Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

If mountains could speak, Zugspitze probably would have said it was having great pain. It has not been well treated by the humans. A big cable car stretches all the way from the valley to the summit. A railroad starts from the same spot and ends 300 elevation meters from the top. From there a smaller cable car takes you the last distance to the top. On the top there are a lot of buildings. It looked almost like a market place. Cables and tubes stretches down form the top. You have to walk up several iron stairs and through some restaurants to get to the summit that is marked with a cross.

A lot of people visited Zugspitze this day. Most of them took the cable car or the train. For the second time our group was split into two parts. One of the parts took the cable car from the valley, while the other part decided to walk up from around 1.600 m. The walking group took the train to Riffelriss. Unfortunately they missed the station so they had to take the train all the way up and down to Riffelriss again. They lost around an hour through this mistake.

The next surprised happened when the group reached a smaller top at around 2.200 m. The path did not go further up, but down the valley on the other side before it went up the mountain side again. The group now made the decision that they should leave the path and continue up the mountain side. At 2.600 m the group had to give up. It was impossible to reach the top from here without climbing equipment. They gave up and returned to the car. Feeling a little stupid they took the train up to 2.600 m again and walked up to the summit.

Zugspitze has to be a big money maker. The cable cars and trains are very expensive. The main cable car from the valley costs 44 Euro up and down. But if you like to get high without climbing,  Zugspitze is perfect.

12. Jul 2003 (11 CET) - Snezka in Czech Republic

The Czech national top, Snezka, was summited today. The mountain is 1.602 m high. They have now used 4 weeks completing the 21 first national tops. This is exactly as scheduled. They will now drive back through Germany to Zugspitze. The plan is to climb it Monday. Zugspitze is located at the Austrian border, so they will have yet another long drive. But after Zugspitze the distances to the mountains in Liechtenstein and Switzerland are short. I think both the boys and the car is happy about that fact.

Some more pictures from Romania and from Macedonia/Albania are on their way. We will present these in our photo album on Monday. Here is the report from Snezka:
Snezka in the Czech Republic
Snezka is 1.602 meters high. The mountain is located around 150 km northeast of Prague in the Sudets mountain range.

We arrived the ski resort Pec pod Snezkou last night after we had driven 700 kilometer through Austria and Czech Republic. Pec pod Snezkou is the starting point for the 6 km walk up to Snezka. In the winter you can even take a ski lift all the way to the top.

We were tired and went to bed once the car was parked. We decided to sleep outside one more time. This is great as long as it's not raining. Tonight we had a heavy shower, so we had to get into the car until it stopped raining.

We started the walk early in the morning. It was an easy mountain to summit, and from the top we could see several paths going up the mountain. A lot of people were visiting the mountain this day. We have hardly seen so many people on one mountain anytime. 

In Norway we have a mountain (Snoehetta) that has the same meaning as Snezka (snow cap). Torbjoern, who has been over 60 times on the Norwegian Snezka, had looking forward to this mountain. He was a bit disappointing finding a small mountain without any snow on the top.

We will now drive back through Germany to Zugspitze after a short stop in Prague. We hope to be ahead of schedule after we have summited Zugspitze.

11. Jul 2003 (21 CET) - Driving through the Czech Republic

They are now on their way to the mountain Snezka which is located in the north of the Czech Republic at the Polish border. They plan to summit Snezka tomorrow. They are tired of all the driving. They have driven about 8.500 km in 27 days. This gives an average of more than 310 km a day. It is also approximately 20% of the distance around the earth at equator.

11. Jul 2003 (17.00 CET) - Rapport from Grossglockner

Grossglockner in Austria:
Grossglockner, 3.798 meters a.s.l., is the highest mountain in Austria. The mountain is located in Hohe Tauern National Park, about 120 km southwest of Salzburg. The north face of the mountain range is covered with a big glacier, and a part of it stretches down the valley. The valley is deep with steep, green sides. In the valley the tourist place Heiligenblut is located. It is even more tourists here during the winter.

We had not studied the routes up to the mountain. We thought it was an easy walk. We were a bit surprised when we arrived Heiligenblut in the evening we saw a steep mountain covered with snow and ice. It was raining heavily in the valley, and snowing up in the mountain. In the hotel  Glocknerhaus we were told that the conditions up in the mountain were bad and they highly recommended us to use a guide. It was usual spending two days Grossglockner and overnight in a hut just below the top.

The time was now 10 pm and it was not easy to arrange a guide for tomorrow morning. After some calls we luckily did manage to get a guide. The staff at the hotel said he was a tough guy. He accepted to take us to the summit tomorrow even if he did not want to go. They told us that he had long hair and beard and people called him Jesus because of the look.

After 4 hours sleep three excited and a bit tired Norwegians were waiting to be inspected by Jesus, or Engelbert that his real name was. He was critical, but decided to take us with him. He started speeding up the valley. During the first hour hardly a single word was spoken. It looked like he tried to prove that we weren't able to do the climb in one day. He told us that he would turn around and we believed in him. At this time we felt he was the opposite of Jesus.

After the first hour he was slowing down, and none of us had any problem to follow. We had passed his test, and Engelbert was starting to look more like Jesus again. He was a very nice guy, and we hope to meet him again sometime. He called himself a "gipsy rebel". His grandfather was a gipsy, and he used the word rebel because he wanted to go his own way and do things his way. "A real cool guy" we thought.

Using two days is recommendable, not only because its a physical hard climb, but because it is important to reach the summit early in the day. In the morning the climbing conditions are best and the traffic is low. Our guide would have liked to overnight in the hut because his girlfriend is working there!

Vi climbed the normal route ascending the mountain from south. We passed some small glaciers where we had to use rope because of the crevasses. The last part up to the summit is very steep, up to 50%, and we had to use crampons and ice axes.

Grossglockner is definitely worth a visit, but not if you are afraid of heights. It's a lot of people in the mountain and it is difficult to pass each other in the narrow paths. We saw a man who had tied himself to the mountain, refusing to go any further. Today, Friday, we will drive Through the Czech Republic to the mountain Snezka. There are a ski lift almost to the summit. We'll see if we are going to use it. Have a nice weekend.

11. Jul 2003 (15.00 CET) - More photos added
We just added some new pictures from Macedonia/Albania and Bulgaria to the photo album. 

10. Jul 2003 (17.00
CET) - Grossglockner top #20
The Vikings have now summited their 20th mountain. There are only 16 to go. Grossglockner appeared to be the first mountain where we misjudged the difficult level. The mountain is steep, and it requires some climbing. It is also recommended to hire a guide. Even if the elevation is not so high, it is still usual spending two days on the normal route to the top.

They will now rest in Osttirol till tomorrow. Then they will probably continue the drive north through the Czech Republic. The highest mountain in Czech Republic is Snezka. It is a popular mountain, especially in the winter because of the ski resort. It is easy to ascent. There is a chair lift all the way to the top. It is also a easy walk if you choose to use your legs. Lets see what our Viking friends choose. In the meantime we are waiting for the report and pictures from Tirol.

9. Jul 2003 (21.00 CET) - Report from Triglav
Triglav in Slovenia
Triglav at 2.864 meters above sea level, is the highest mountain in Slovenia. The mountain is located about 80 km northwest of the capital Ljubljana within the Triglav National  Park. The famous ski resort Kranjska Gora and the ski-jump arena Planica are located nearby.

We drove left by a village called Mojstrana up the valley Vrata. The mountain rises 1.850 meters up from the valley and is a great sight. The weather was nice and warm, so we decided to camp besides the road. What we didn't see in the darkness was that this happened to be the parking lot for many of those who climb the mountain. Also it is illegal to camp inside the national park. 5 o'clock in the morning the first car arrived, and they kept coming one by one. We were a bit embarrassed lying there in the middle of the parking lot. We had to get up and go for the mountain instead.

Triglav is the most beautiful mountain we have visited so far. In the start the trail is steep, and is getting only steeper the higher we climb. It is a superb mountain if you want to climb without use any equipment. It's a popular mountain, so there was a lot of traffic on the route. Many choose to overnight in one of the huts up in the mountain. The ascent is hard, so it is a good idea to use two days. On the summit we were surprised by a phone call from Dagbladet, a big Norwegian newspaper. They had heard about our expedition and wanted to write a story about it. For us the descent was almost as hard as the ascent. Our knees are very tired. Still we are now ready to go directly to Grossglockner in Austria.

9. Jul 2003 (11.30 CET) - Triglav - the most spectacular mountain so far
Torbjoern called me on their way down from Triglav in Slovenia. He said this was the most spectacular mountain so far during the expedition. After all their problems in Eastern Europe everything is no going very well. Today they directly to Grossglockner in Austria. The plan was to first go to Czech Republic and Snezka, but they will save some hours travel time by first go to Grossglockner.

Grossglockner is not more than 180 km drive form Triglav and it will be the first mountain above 3.000 m. Despite the height it's not difficult to climb. The road goes up to 2.369 meters a.s.l.

8. Jul 2003 (13.00
CET) - Half way!
Late last evening the vikings summited the highest mountain in Croatia. The sign on the top of Dinara said 1.831 m, one meter above our original list. They have now completed half of the national tops. Even if Dinara was summited the date as scheduled, they are still one day behind. Tomorrow they have to drive a long distance before they reach Triglav in Slovenia, so the first opportunity to summit Triglav will be tomorrow. They have to be very tired after the tough program the last days.

8. Jul 2003 - Even more photos
Some more photos from Greece, Bulgaria and Moldova are now added to our photo album. Bjorn Stensheim has sent us his these pictures through his Internet connection in Pristina.

Yesterday evening I spoke with the vikings. They were on their way up to Dinara, The trails were good, and they should reach the summit before darkness. They had brought flashlights just in case it is dark during the descent.

7. Jul 2003 (11 am
CET) - New photos
Here's the photos from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from Serbia and Montenegro. I also hope to receive even more photos from previous mountains later today. Report and
photos from Croatia will be presented tomorrow.

I just spoke with Petter. They decided to have a stop-over in Dubrovnik last night. Not a bad choice. This means that the status on our home page and some of the picture texts are not correct. But I guess they deserve having a party after the hard work last week :-). They are going to Dinara soon. This mountain is located at the Bosnian border just north of the city Split. It's 1.830 m high, and should not be too difficult to summit.


6. Jul 2003 - Maglic - another mountain summited
Today the group summited Maglic in Bosnia Herzegovina. They have really going fast. I've received the reports from both Serbia and from Bosnia. I will translate these reports to English tomorrow together with the report from Macedonia.

They have now reach the mountain Dinara in Croatia. They hope to climb it tomorrow, which means that they are on schedule!

5. Jul 2003 - Djeravica - new mountain summited
Yesterday evening the vikings summited the mountain  Djeravica in Serbia and Montenegro. The mountain was easy compared to the day before, Petter told me. Today they were traveling directly to Bosnia, and by now they probably have reached Sutjeska national park where the highest mountain Maglic is located. They are now only one day behind schedule. Tomorrow, if they manage to climb Maglic, they will continue to Croatia. Monday we hope to give you many new pictures from Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia&Montenegro.

4. Jul 2003 - Report from Korab
Here's the exciting report from Korab:
Korab in Macedonia/Albania:
The border between Macedonia and Albania goes precisely through the summit of the mountain Korab. Korab is located in the Shara mountain range. We planned to climb the mountain from the Macedonian side because Albania requires a visa, and also because we were told that this was the only safe way to summit Korab. We still needed a special permit from the police and the army to enter this area. There's a lot of criminality in this area. There are also mine fields  that are still not clarified. Because of the situation we needed a military escort to be allowed to climb the mountain.

Two days ago we arrived Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, believing that everything was arranged and that we could climb Korab the day after. Frode had spoken to the Norwegian embassy in Skopje, and they had arranged the necessary permits and a military escort. What we and the embassy did not know was that we also needed a special permit from the Macedonian police, which normally takes 14 days to get.

Frode had via the Internet contacted Boge in Korab Mountain Club. He picked up our papers at the Norwegian embassy and we met him the evening we arrived Skopje. Without Boge's assistance we had never been able to fulfill the climbing of Korab. We first contacted a policeman. He promised to do everything possible so we could have the permit next morning. Luckily we did get the permit the next day. The policeman wished us good luck and he also said that he was thankful for the Norwegian UN soldiers' work in their country. May be that was a reason that they gave us the permit so fast?

The disappointment came an hour later. The military escort refused to take us to Korab. They could not guarantee the safety. They had to clarify the area first. Some time ago they had discovered some new mines. Boge promised us to do all he could to get us on the mountain tomorrow. We could do nothing but wait. Now we also had time to visit the Norwegian embassy and the ambassador Dag Halvorsen.

Thursday was our lucky day. Ace and Spiro, two friends of Boge, joined us going to Korab. They had been there before, and we were very happy that they joined us. After two hours driving from Skopje, we arrived the military camp Strezimir at 9 am. We met our military escort, and they really took it seriously. The soldier Abdija was going in front together with a dog trained to locate mines. Idriz was going in the middle. He was lieutenant and the leader of the group. The soldier Marjan walked behind us. When we where having a stop, Marjan always were looking through the area for bandits. Both the soldiers and the lieutenant were armed.

Vi were feeling safe. Yet we were silent and were listening to mysterious sounds. The lieutenant told us at our first stop that he may be not wanted to take us to the summit anyway. "Why couldn't we just go to a lower top?", he asked. He was anxious for mines and for our safety. We were horrified by the though that may be we shouldn't make the top. Ace, the youngest guide, calmed us down by promising us to discuss this with the lieutenant later.

We were not going fast. We stopped frequently, and the lieutenant thought it was hard walking and that the mountain was steep. He was more comfortable driving a tanks than to climbing mountains. He was joking about his big stomach: "Soon I'll not be able to get into the tanks.", he said.

When we had finished around 2/3 of the ascent, the lieutenant didn't want to go further. Luckily he told us that we could continue at our own risk. Spiro, elder of the guides, also stopped because of a bruised toe. Spiro was well fit, despite being 70 years old. He also had been to Korab 10 times before.

Now we were going much faster. We reached the top within two hours. We could not go the fastest way, because of the safety. We walked on an edge of a mountain close to Korab. They told us that this route was safe. The rock on the summit was marked with an Albanian symbol on the western side, but the Macedonian symbol was removed form the eastern side. The Albanians had removed it. They don't accept that the border is going here. The Albanian name of the mountain is Korabi.

On our way down we felt safer then during the ascent. We knew that the track was free of mines. This safety disappeared when the lieutenant suddenly insisted that we should take a shortcut, down a valley. We didn't understand this, because this way was really not faster. The grass was high, and Torbjoern was 2 cm from stepping on a poisonous snake. We were very happy when we arrived the camp. All our arms and legs were intact, and we had summited "two" difficult national tops at the same day. May be the most difficult mountain during the whole expedition. Boge said that we probably were the first person that had been to Korab in almost two years.

We are humble by the help we got here in Macedonia. Both Boge, Ace, Spiro or the military people refused to receive money for the help they had given us. They really did all this only to get us to the summit.

We are now in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and are ready to climb Daravica. We spent the night in the house of the Norwegian Bjorn Stensheim. He knows the situation in Kosovo well, because he works as a safety officer for the UN. He will help us during our stay here in Kosovo.

3. Jul 2003 (20:00 CET) - Korab conquered
We rarely use the word conquered about a mountain, but today I think we can. It is not the mountain itself that is difficult, but the unsafe situation that still is in the border area between Macedonia and Albania. If the mountain is not conquered, the difficulties getting on top of it is for sure defeated by the vikings from the north. All the group summited this afternoon, and they are probably the first who have been there for two years!

Petter told me that the mountain is 2.764 m high, 11 meters higher than we thought before. This is the third mountain where the real height differs from our list. Now they go directly to Pristina and are hoping to go to Djeravica tomorrow.

3. Jul 2003 (13:30 CET) - Korab - On their way to the summit
Our friend Boge in Skopje recently gave us these two reports:
- I just called Ace one of the guides, they are going little slow, they have escort with the dog so they are moving slowly, everything fine so far
- I just spoke with the army, everything is OK so far, the army from Strezimir welcome them and now they are on their way to the summit.

2. Jul 2003 - They go for Korab tomorrow
Everything is now set to go to Korab tomorrow. All the permits are ok, and the military army is expected them to arrive the camp at 9.30. Thanks to Boge in the Korab climbing club and the Norwegian embassy in Skopje they are now able to go to Korab.

Tomorrow morning at 6 am they leave Skopje. They drive their own car to the mountain, they are meeting their escort in the military camp at 9.30. Tomorrow evening we hope to give you a fresh update including pictures from Korab.

2. Jul 2003 - Correction
We told you in the report from Bulgaria the 30. June that Musala is located in the Balkan mountain range. The correct is that Musala is a part of the Rila mountains. We thank our new Bulgarian climbing friend, Konstantin, who told us this.

2. Jul 2003 - Macedonia delayed one more day
I spoke to Petter today. They had gotten the last permit from the police, but unfortunately they could not go today anyway. They were not able to get an escort today because they did not guarantee the safety for the group. We are not sure if the reason is some newly discovered land mines or the lack of persons to escort them. Lets hope they are able to go tomorrow. It is possible they will go to Kosovo to climb Djeravica today instead.

2. Jul 2003 - New photo album with many new photos
I have now published new photos from the first part of the expedition. They are organized in a way that makes it easier to browse. Still a few pictures from the last mountains will be presented here at the report page. In the photo album you se thumbnails of all pictures, one page per country. Below each thumbnail you will se a describing text. Clicking on a thumbnail will open a full-size version of the photo. Click on to Photo album, and you will see many great pictures you have not seen before.

The last news from the group (received yesterday afternoon) is that they have arrived Skopje. We thought earlier yesterday that the all the permits needed to climb Korab were ok, but it appeared that they also needed a confirmation from the police. Boge, our friend in Skopje, is helping them to get this (hopefully) last permit. If it should take some days before they could go to Korab, they probably will try to go to Kosovo before. The highest mountain in Serbia and Montenegro, Djeravica, is located in Kosovo close to the Albanian border. It may be sounds scary but we have checked that it is safe to travel in this area. They will also get some help from a Norwegian who is working in the area.


1. Jul 2003 - Report from Greece
Olympos in Greece:
Today the gods really were on our side. Not so strange because we were climbing Olympos, the mountain where the gods where living according to the Greek Mythology. The mountain is highest in Greece and is located around 60 km south of Thessalonica. The height is recently found to be 2.918 meters, one meter higher than earlier.

Rachel Mjoen from Oppdal (Gisle's and Torbjoern's home place joined them in Greece for climbing Olympos. We decided to start yesterday evening to be able to see the sunrise from the mountain. We brought sleeping bags and stayed in a hut at 2.200 m during the night. The path up to the hut was steep but good. We almost reached the hut before the darkness. We were tired after walking the distance in no more than two hours!

From the hut we had a fantastic view down the valley. Around it there were some enormous trees that were said to be between 800 and 1000 years old.

We started for the summit early in the morning. After some short time we could see the most fantastic red sun rise from the Aegean Sea. We are now in southern of Europe, so the weather was pretty warm even at almost 3.000 m a.s.l. The last part to the summit, Mytika, includes some easy technical climbing. Olympos has three summits who's heights differs by only 10-20 meters. The mountain sides are steep and have several good routes for mountain climbing. climbing.

We continue to Macedonia and Skopje this evening. Korab is located exactly at the border to Albania and is the highest mountain in both countries. The mountain lies in a restricted and unsafe area, and we need military escort to the top. Frode, who plan the expedition from Norway, is doing a great job. When we arrive Skopje this evening (Tuesday) all the permits that we need should be ready.

1. Jul 2003 - Olympos summited at sunrise
I got a message from Gisle this morning. He told me that Olympos was summited. They also had company by Rachel Mjoen, so this morning there were 4 lucky Norwegians that could se the fantastic sunrise from Mount Olympos in Greece.

30. Jun 2003 - Report from Bulgaria
The group have completed 1/3 out of the 36 national tops. Now the group is having a resting day in Greece, before they go to Olympos. Lets hope they don't have too much ouzo, so they are ready for climbing Olympos tomorrow. It's possible they go to the mountain already tonight, because the sunrise on Mount Olympos is very beautiful. Here comes the report from Musala:
Musala in Bulgaria:
From west to east, in the middle of Bulgaria, lies the Balkan mountain range. Musala is located here, and 2.925 meters high it is the highest in the country. Borovets is the most common starting point for climbing this mountain. It is possible to take the lift up to around 2.400 m.

For the first time during the expedition, the group split into to parts. One half of them took the lift, and the other half of them walked up the valley. It's not easy to divide a group of three into two half, but we can say it's approximately correct. The lift group got a great view of the valley and Borovets and they had an easy walk the last 500 elevation meters to the top. The valley group was jogging up until they met a group of three Bulgarians who followed them up to the top.

Vladimir, Konstantin and Radil, our new Bulgarian mountain friends, gave us chocolate and tea. We were having an interesting lesson in Bulgarian history from the time when the communists were running the country. They invited us to come back to Bulgaria to climb other mountains, and to visit the beaches and beautiful places by the Black Sea. We promised them to spend at least a week next time, and not only a day like we did now.

On our way down from the mountain there were thunder and lightning and heavy rain showers. It was good to have a bath in a clean mountain sea. On our way to Greece we saw that the heavy rainfall had caused damage to the road several places. Luckily we was able to pass. We are now having one resting day in Thessaloniki, Greece. We have to clean the car and to wash some of our clothes.

29. Jun 2003 - Bulgaria
Unfortunately there was an error during the publishing yesterday. The last pictures and the last English reports was not published. Now everything should be ok. Today the three are climbing Musala in Bulgaria. This is the highest mountain so far during Top-Europe, 2.925m high. Yesterday they drove from Fagaras and south through  Romania and into Bulgaria. I think they spent the night in Borovets, that is the starting point for the climbing of Musala. Tomorrow we will give you a fresh report and pictures from Romania. We will also publish more pictures from the first 10 days of the expedition.

28. Jun 2003 - Moldoveanu - report and photos
The boys spent the night in the village Victoria tonight. They were tired after a long and hard walk in the Fagaras mountains. Today they will drive to Bulgaria. The next report will be on Monday. By then they have hopefully summited Musala and driven to Thessalonica in Greece. Here is the last report from the group:
Moldoveanu in Romania:
The Carpat mountain range turns westwards and here is the highest mountains in Romania, Moldoveanu, in the middle of Dracula's kingdom. This is our fourth mountain in the Carpats.

Our starting point was Victoria, a village located at about 800 m above sea level. From here we walked 10 km on a road up to Popasul Simbata at 1.300m. We met some people that knew the mountain. They lent us a map and explained about the rout to the top. We had to pass 5 lower tops to reach the summit of Moldoveanu.

The time was 14 and they meant we would never reach back to Popasul Simbata in daylight. Anyway, the track was easy to find, and there was a hut right below the top where we could sleep. We also had good clothes, flash lights and plenty of food.

The climb was long and hard. Especially the descent. But there was still daylight when we returned to Popasul Simbata. The people at the hut was impressed by our .

We rested for about an hour at the hut. After some talking and drinking we continued the last 10 km down the forest. The last part of the walk it was completely dark. It was a special feeling knowing that Dracula was walking around us in the darkness hunting for the night meal. Anyway we were not afraid. None of us are virgins.

We have climbed 11 mountains in 14 days. We are one day behind schedule. Today we continue to Bulgaria to the mountain Musala southeast of Sofia. This mountain is almost 3000 m high. We will try to summit it tomorrow.

27. Jun 2003 - Report from Balanesti, Moldova
This text is not translated to English yet.

26. Jun 2003 - Top #10
National top number 10 is completed. Now there are only 26 left to visit. Petter called me at 7pm CET. He told me that this was definitely the hardest top to locate so far. The boys arrived Iasi yesterday, and was hoping to get the Moldovan visa same day. It obviously was not that easy. Today they sat at the border for several hours, but not before 4pm CET they were allowed to pass by. In the meantime there had been many phone calls and faxes between the police custom, the travel agency in Iasi and the ministry in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.

When they finally could cross the border, they where having a another nightmare when trying to locate the "mountain". Everywhere there were thick forest, and nobody could answer their question about where the highest point in their country was. After driving around for hours on the so-called roads in the area they met an old lady that actually could tell them precisely where the top of Balanesti was located. The boys had to fight their way through the forest on a ground covered with mud. Finally they got to the top, and they could see clearly that this top was higher than the surrounding landscape. On the ground they found some pieces of wood which probably some time ago had marked the highest point in Moldova.

Now they have to clean the mud from their bodies and head straight for Moldoveanu. If they are able to reach Fagaras tonight and manage to climb Moldoveanu tomorrow, they are only one day behind schedule. Despite the delay we are very pleased with the first 13 days of the expedition. They have already completed all the countries that requires special visa. The next three mountains are high, but predictable. The next border crossings should also be trouble-free. A new optimistic plan is to climb Moldoveanu tomorrow, drive to Bulgaria on Saturday, climb Musala and drive to Thessalonica Sunday evening. Then they need a resting day in Greece before climbing Olympos on Tuesday.

The next unpredictable mountain is Korab in Macedonia/Albania. The mountain is located on the border and it's summit is the highest point in both countries. This is a military area that requires a special permit from the Macedonian authorities to enter. The Norwegian Embassy in Skopje is working hard to help us getting this permit. I also got contact with Boge from a climbing club in Skopje ( He has been very helpful during the planning of Korab, and he also have connected us to a guide that knows the mountain.

Their own story about Moldova and some photos are coming tomorrow.


25. Jun 2003 - Report from Ukraine
Finally Petter has managed to connect to the Internet again. They are now in Iasi, Romania, close to the Moldavia
n border. It is possible to get their visa at the border, and they don't have to go to Bucharest. Anyway they won't be able to cross the border until tomorrow morning. After the visit in Moldavia they go straight to Fagaras to climb the Romanian mountain Moldoveanu. Even though they switch the order of the mountains (Balanesti before Moldoveanu), they are about a day behind the scheduled plan. This may stop them from having a resting day in Thessalonica...

Here's the report from Hoverla, Ukraine (look in the right column for photos):
We had a deal with our guide to meet him in the town Uzhorod, 20 km after the border. The border crossing was very slow. We couldn't understand that a lot of cars behind us were allowed to go before the others that were waiting to enter Ukraine. Our guide told us later that it is possible to pay a few dollars to the police custom and be able to advance in the queue. We certainly would have paid this money if we knew this, but now it took us 3 hours to cross the border. Entering Ukraine was like entering another age. The difference between Hungary and Ukraine was big.

Too late in the evening we cached up with Samuel, our English speaking guide. Samuel had his own car and driver. We drove in two cars because we were going in different directions after we had climbed the mountain. As we came closer to Hoverla, the road got even worse but the speed of car in front of us just got higher. Torbjoern, our driver for the day, nearly lost them several times.

We got three hours sleep that night. At 6 am an old terrain truck picked us up and drove us the last 20 km on a bumpy old road. In addition to Samuel, we had company with a local mountain guide. He told us he had been around 1000 times to Mt. Hoverla. His son, André, walked in front of the group all of the 10 km to the top. His father instructed him all the way. It was obvious that he some day was meant to take over the family tradition.

Our main guide, Samuel, became more and more a translator. The local mountain guide gave us interesting information about everything that was to see around us. Samuel translated, and after 1 km he completely lost his breathe. He wanted to give up going to the top, but luckily after a  rest he joined us all the way to the top.

On the summit we met a whole school class of children. They had never seen a digital camera before, and thought it was very funny to see pictures of themselves immediately. Ukraine is an exciting country with nice and warm people. If we had more time we definitely would have spend some extra days here. Ukraine is poor, but rich at the same time. When we came down from the mountain, the mountain guide invited us for dinner. His wife made delicious food.

We are now on our way to the city Chernivitsi, 10 km from the Romanian border and will spend the night there. We are one day behind the scheduled plan. It now depends on how fast it is to get the visa to
Moldavia, whether we are able to catch up with the plan. Romania or Moldova is our next mountain.

24. Jun 2003 - Hoverla summited
Torbjoern called me when they were having lunch on their way down from the mountain. They were very pleased with their visit in Ukraine, and they had a nice guide which spoke very good English. Torbjoern told me that the mountains and the surrounding nature were breathtaking. They will probably stay in Ukraine till tomorrow morning.

Now we're not sure how easy it is to organize a visit to
Moldavia. The most critical is how to get the visa. Norwegians, that is not a part of EU, have to go to Bucharest to get the visa at the Moldavian Consulate. We've asked a travel agency in Iasi, Romania, to organize the tour. They will check the possibility of getting the visa at the border. If it's arrangable they will save one day. If they have to go to Bucharest, they will probably go to Moldoveanu first, may be already tomorrow. The next update will bring you a fresh report and photos from Hoverla in Ukraine.

24. Jun 2003 - Ukraine - on their way to Hoverla
Gisle told me that they are very close to the summit of Hoverla. This will be their 9th national summit since the start of Top Europe 10 days ago. Probably they will drive to Romania already this evening. They are not sure if they will be climbing Moldoveanu (Romania's highest mountain) before they go to
Moldavia and Balanesti. It depends on how easy it is to get the visa to Moldavia. Balanesti in Moldavia is only 430 m high, and it lies about one hour's drive from the Romanian city Iasi. Follow us for report and photos from Ukraine tonight or tomorrow morning.

22. Jun 2003 - Report and photo from Hungary
Kekes in Hungary:
The crossing of the Hungarian border was easy. The Police Custom understood that we were innocent tourists having only peaceful intentions. Inside the car were clothes, spare parts for the car, food, bottles mixed together in an awful mess. It is no pleasant job examine it further. 

Kekes, 1014 m, appeared to be another "sandal mountain". It lies about 100 km northeast of Budapest. It was easy to see in long distance. An enormous radio tower is placed on the top. Below the top is a ski resort, but the hills are almost flat compared to Norwegian mountains.  The road goes almost to the top. The 200m walk was ok, because of the tough climbing of Gerlachovsky earlier this day.

Traveling through the different countries, we usually exchange a small amount of money to the local currency. Here in Hungary we had no local money at this time. We found a camping place, but were rejected because they could not take USD or Visa. We drove to Gyongyos, the nearest town, and found a hotel that accepted Visa. So tonight we will have a good sleep in clean and comfortable beds.

In Budapest, at the Norwegian embassy, we have now received or green card (insurance) and is on our way to Ukraine.

22. Jun 2003 - Gerlachovsky Stit (Slovakia)
Gerlachovsky Stit, or Gerlach, is not the easiest of the European national summits. It is required to have a local guide, and the guys tells me that it is not just a stupid rule. It could be very hard to find the way to the top if you don't know the route. Petter is again connected to the Internet. The problems in Slovakia were apparently related to the mobile net. Look at the photos from Rysy and Gerlach in the right column. Here is the report from Slovakia:
The rest yesterday was good for us. We were having a good and long sleep, we cleaned the car and relaxed. We've had three days in the Carpats, the mountain range between Poland, and it was like an adventure.

The starting point for the climbing of Gerlachovsky Stit was Sliezsky Dom at 1.670m. This is a hotel located about 7 km from the village of Tatranska Polianska. Oleg, our guide, met us at Sliezsky Dom at 5 am.

It had snowed during the night, and the fog was thick. The mountain is not technical difficult, but without the guide we would never have found the way to the top. The summit area is very small and  on it is placed a cross. We had to stick to the crucifix to be able to summit the mountain together (see photo).

Between 1300m and 1800m there is a forest. On our way down we heard some noise in the forest below. Oleg told us it had to be a brown bear. The mountain is located inside a national park (Tatransky) which is the home of around 50 bears.

We will now drive to Hungary to "climb" Kekes. The mountain is located not far from Budapest and it should be possible to summit it tonight.

21. Jun 2003 - The Tatra Mountains (Slovakia)
The Polish mountain, Rysy, was summited yesterday, but not everything has been straight forward. They had a deal with a guide in Sliezsky dom to climb Gerlachovsky Stit, but because of a misunderstanding they arrived the hotel too late. Petter, Torbjoern and Gisle had spent the night in Tatranska Pollanka, and they arrived  Sliezsky dom around 8 am Friday morning. Then all the guides were already on their way up the mountain. All the guides were busy Saturday, so Sunday was the first chance to climb Gerlach.

Instead they went back to Tatranska Pollanka, picked up their car and drove to Strbske Pleso to climb Rysy, the highest in Poland. They parked the car in Strbske Pleso. They followed a road for a few kilometers until they reached the mountain. From here there was a very good trail all the way to the summit. The weather was foggy until they were almost up. Then it suddenly cleared, and they had a fantastic view from the summit. The summit plateau was small and very crowdy. It is obviously a very popular mountain to climb. A funny thing is that on their way to the Polish summit of Rysy, they had to pass a Slovakian top that is 5 m higher.

Today, the boys will have a resting day while waiting to climb Gerlach tomorrow. By the plan they are now one day late, so the question is if they will be in Ukraine in time to meet the guide on Monday. They also have problems connecting to the Internet, so we'll have to wait to give you pictures from Slovakia and Poland. Let us hope it is the mobile net that is the problem and not Petter's laptop. Follow us tomorrow for fresh reports from the Tatry Mountains.  

19. Jun 2003 - Report from Belarus
I just got the report and some photos from Belarus.
We were not able to get the Belarus visa before take off from Norway. Our only opportunity was to take a plane from Warszawa to Minsk and arrange the visa at the airport.

There were no problems getting the visa at the airport, and Sergey, our guide in Belarus, met us there. The drive to Hotel Orbita in Minsk took 45 minutes on a motorway with almost no other vehicles than ourselves. When checking in to the hotel, Petter couldn't find his passport. Sergey called the airport, and luckily they could tell him that  the passport of a Norwegian citizen was delivered to the airport police. Two hours later both Petter and the passport was safely back at the hotel.

Sergey met us at 8 am the next day. Our plan was leaving at 14.40, so we had to be at the airport in 5 hours. Sergey war not sure where the exact top was located, only the name of the village close to it. He could not understand why we absolutely were going to the highest point in a country that is almost flat. It was the funniest guiding job he had ever had.

Every signs were on Russian only, and the place were we were going were not marked on our map. The landscape was the same all around us, with small hills covered by forest. We would never ever found this top alone in our own car without understanding a single Russian word.  Sergey stopped  asking for the way several places, but nobody could tell us the exact location. In the end a bus driver meant a hill with a ski resort had to be the highest point.

The top was not there, but in a village a few km away, and marked by a rock. After asking some more people we got to a military camp. The boys at the camp could tell us that here is the highest point in Belarus. When the military camp was built some years ago the rock that marked the highest point was mowed around 200 meters.

We found the rock at last in the middle of a place filled with junk and old vehicles. It was the ugliest view we have ever had from any national top.

We're now back in Warszawa and ready to drive through the rest of Poland and into Slovakia. Now we're looking forward to climb some real mountains again.

19. Jun 2003 - Belarus
I spoke with Petter in fact when they finally had found the top of  Dzyarzhynskaya. This was the most difficult top to locate, ant they had searched for several hours before they found it. Nobody spoke a word English, except their local guide. Now they luckily reach their plane back to Warszawa. They will try to drive all the way to Strbske Pleso in Slovakia this evening. If the weather is good they will may be try to summit Rysy tonight. Report and photos from Belarus will be given later today.

18. Jun 2003 - Warszawa, Poland
This text is not translated to English yet.

17. Jun 2003 - Lithuania
This text is not translated to English yet.

16. Jun Estonia and Latvia
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. Jun 2003 - Galdhoepiggen
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13. Jun 2003 - One day to the start
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The last photos:
Denmark - World Wide Vikings celabrate with champagne and Norwegian flags on Ejer Bavnehoej.

Denmark - The tower on Ejer Bavnehoej.

Denmark - The Danish flag on top of the tower, and the small Norwegian flag on the edge.

Nederland - Utkikkstårnet på Vaalserberg

Belgia - Utkikkstårnet på Botrange

Luxembourg - Utkikkstårnet på Burgplatz

Andorra - view from the mountain down the valley.

Andorra - view towards Pik de Coma Pedrosa.

Monaco by night. View from the sleeping bag.

Monaco - The border crossing from France. Monaco is only 2 km2.

The whole "climbing" team are entering the Vatican Hill.

Vatikanet - A statue in the Pope's garden close the summit of Vatican Hill.

Portugal - A Frenchman and his son on the summit of Ponta do Pico, 2.351 meters a.s.l.

Portugal - The carachteristic peak on the top of Ponta do Pico.

Open Photo album for more photos from the Top Europe expedition