Norway’s Mountain Rules


Just because you can walk anywhere you want, doesn’t mean you should. Bruce Gulland and Liz Waid tell about the rules for hiking in Norway.

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Bruce Gulland.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

A large flat rock extends like a part of a floor over a beautiful blue lake. There are mountains in the distance. People stand on the rock to take pictures in this famous place in Norway. It is called Trolltunga. In English this means “Troll’s Tongue”. This large rock hanging over the lake looks like a tongue.

Voice 2  

Trolltunga was formed by large pieces of ice a long time ago. Visitors often walk for seven to twelve hours to visit this special place. But some people never reach Trolltunga. They have to return to where they started. Others arrive but become sick or injured. And some visitors have even died. These different experiences have led many people to discuss important rules for walking in nature. Today’s Spotlight is on some of these rules - Norway’s mountain rules.

Voice 1  

People all over the world enjoy walking in nature and hiking through forests and fields. In Norway, there are two main rules that are important for people who spend time outside. In the Norwegian language they are: allemannsretten and fjellvettreglene.

Voice 2  

Allemannsretten is often called the freedom to roam or wander. It means that you can walk any place in nature you would like. However, you must respect nature and other people. The freedom to roam has been a tradition in Norway since ancient times. But allemannsretten became an official part of Norway’s Outdoor Recreation Act in 1957.

Voice 1

The parts of allemannsretten are simple. You can sleep anywhere, but you must stay more than 150 meters away from the nearest house. And if you want to sleep more than two nights in the same place, you must ask the people who own the land if they will let you stay. Most important, you need to respect nature, wildlife, and the local people. Norway is not the only country that has that idea. The right to roam is also found in Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Latvia, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

Voice 2  

Sometimes hikers get into trouble when they use their right to roam. They walk into dangerous situations and need to be rescued. People often experience this problem at Trolltunga. Erlend Indrearne is a guide to Trolltunga. He shared with the BBC how people are often unprepared for the weather and for the difficulties of hiking:

Voice 3

“At least one or two people in every group turn back. Many of them come unprepared and do not understand how intense nature is here. Or they come with no respect and leave their waste everywhere.”

Voice 1  

This is why Norway’s second rule, fjellvettreglene, is still very important. Fjellvettreglene is known as Norway’s “mountain rule.” A Norwegian hiking group and the Red Cross introduced this idea in 1967. It was in response to a few accidents where people died while hiking.

Voice 2  

Fjellvettreglene encourages people to have a healthy and respectful relationship with nature. There are nine main rules in this mountain code. The rules encourage people to plan their trip, report where they go, bring the right equipment, and seek shelter if necessary. One of the most important points is to not feel shame if you must turn around. Expert guide Indrearne told the BBC:

Voice 3  

“Fjellvettreglene taught us that nature does not care about how we feel. We should show as much respect and take as much care as possible. Think about the hike to Trolltunga, for example. For people who are not experienced hikers, this is considered extreme. Not many people know that. For Norwegians, we are hikers. We grew up with this nature. We know how powerful it can be.”

Voice 1  

But some people learn this lesson the hard way. Addie Minnis and her friends hiked Trolltunga in 2015. She wrote about her experiences on the internet. Visit Norway also shared her story to help hikers make better choices. Minnis wrote that they did everything wrong. She and her friends wore the wrong shoes and the wrong clothes for the weather. They did not research Trolltunga before traveling there. They did not know what to expect with the land and the weather. Minnis and her friends put themselves in danger because they did not prepare. Visit Norway shares part of the troubles:

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“They were warned that rain and fog would make the trip difficult. And they were warned that they started too late. But Minnis and her friends wanted to prove that they could reach the mountain edge and back before sundown. If conditions are hard, the trip can take up to ten hours to complete. That is a lot more than the two hours they had thought it would take.”

Voice 2  

Minnis and her friends thought that they did not have to listen to other people or plan for their trip. But they were wrong. The weather was too cold. She began to get hypothermia. This is a medical emergency caused when a person loses more body heat than she produces. Minnis wrote on her blog how she felt when she saw how much danger they were in:

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“I was very afraid. I have never been close to getting hypothermia, and I thought I was going to die. When the cold gets to the point where you cannot feel any of your fingers or toes, it makes you understand that you can die.”

Voice 1  

Minnis and her friends are not the only visitors who have made mistakes at Trolltunga. In 2016, rescuers helped injured and tired hikers 40 different times. These issues led Norwegians to add more help at Trolltunga. Area officials added watchmen along the trail. They also improved paths and added new bridges. These changes helped reduce rescues to only 21 in 2017.

Voice 2

In Norway and other countries, people enjoy nature. However, people must also remember the mountain rules: Respect nature, prepare yourself, and do not be afraid to turn back.

Voice 1  

Do you have rules for walking in nature? Does your country have rules about these places? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 2  

The writer of this program was Lauren Anders Visser. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Norway’s Mountain Rules.”

Voice 1  

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever experienced something dangerous while walking in nature?

Comments


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Honneur
said on February 25, 2019

We went to Joaquim’s house, hidden in the Amazon forest, on the other side of a long hill. The beat was very hard and the trail showed many traps like stones, roots, fallen logs, all wet and slippery. But what really worried us was the surucucu, the most venomous snake in the Brazilian jungle. On the right side of the trail ran a small creek that increased our fear of snakes ... The above text is the beginning of a narrative of the most dangerous knock I’ve ever done ...