Their work has even greater impact for the Sherpas at home in Solukhumbu: since the project’s inception, schools and a hospital were able to be built in Khunde and neighbouring Khumjung, while income is continuously funnelled into the wider community to improve health and social welfare. Fittingly, the Sherpas, so inspired by their Norwegian projects, have undertaken similar work on the pathways that bind their mountain kingdom together.
While Preikestolen is all about the rock platform views, Norway’s other stairways to heaven offer an array of secluded lookouts, coastal seascapes and city-wide panoramas. In Midsund, outside of Molde, the stone stairway is a procession of 2,200 steps up to Rørsethornet peak from where you’ll get a carousel view of ocean, fjord and mountain. Other highlights on the perimeter of Norwegian cities are the 1,300 steps that snake up Bergen’s Mount Ulriken and the purpose-built flight above Tromsø to Fjellstua; while the town of Mosjøen is home to Helgelandstrappa, Norway’s longest stone staircase with 3,000 steps sculpted into the highlands.
For me, the connoisseur’s alternative to Preikestolen is Kjerag, a Sherpa pathway to Lysefjord’s highest peak that comprises the same stone steps and deep fjord views, but without the visitor crush of its close neighbour.
Partly as result of the Sherpa stairs, on a late autumn’s morning on the Lysefjord, hiking can feel pretty idyllic. In this land of steep cliffs, the stone stairways symbolise a longer lasting and more sustainable way to hike the mountains, and this is good news for anyone who loves the outdoors. Doubly so, in fact, for anyone troubled by the post-pandemic rise in hikers streaming out into the wilderness.
Indeed, for Norwegians like the Lofoten Rangers, a torch-bearing voluntary project to raise awareness of fjellvettreglene(the country’s deep-rooted respect for the environment), the Sherpa steps are great news. And they’re an aspect of the country, chairperson Christina Svanstrøm told me, that is becoming increasingly embedded into Norway’s national psyche.
Norway’s soaring mountain staircases – BBC News