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    Trolltunga, Norge

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    The influx of hikers to the picturesque cliff of Trolltunga (‘troll's tongue') in the Norwegian mountains has proven a mixed blessing. Despite the fact that the annual flow of tourists soared from 800 to 80,000, Norwegians are far from delighted. Visitors often risk their lives posing for dramatic photos.

    Tourists from around the world flock to Trolltunga to enjoy the scenic view from the mountain top, many of them posing for dramatic photos standing close to the edge or dangling their feet over the drop. Between 2010 and 2016, the flow of tourists to the breath-taking rock formation of Trolltunga rose by a formidable 100 times and is expected to pass the 100,000 mark, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK reported. The hashtag #trolltunga has been used some 50,000 times on Instagram alone.

    One of the most spectacular scenic cliffs in Norway, Trolltunga is situated about 1,100 meters above sea level, overhanging some 700 meters above lake Ringedalsvatnet. However, the magnificent views are preceded by a long and hard hike of 20-odd kilometers with a 900-meter ascent, taking some 10-12 hours. The hike is available from mid-June to mid-September, depending on the snow conditions. There is no mobile phone coverage along the route, which does not allow tourists to post selfies immediately after the ascent and, more importantly, complicates salvage operations.

    "So far, it has been a great challenge to deal with the tourist inflow, both in terms of hikers' safety and the preservation of the landscape, advisor Rolf Bøen at Odda municipality, told NRK, citing tourists' poor preparation and noncompliance.

     

     

    Rescue personnel. Stockholm (File)
    © AFP 2019 / DAN LINDBERG / SCANPIX SWEDEN
    Despite all warnings, every year dozens of search and rescue operations are carried out to rescue reckless hikers in serious trouble. In September 2016, a group of British hikers, who dangled from the cliff in order to make a perfect selfie, was condemned for their stunt, which was called "idiotic" by Jostein Soldal, who runs the Trolltunga Active tour company.

    In 2015, an Australian hiker lost her balance and fell from a rock on her way back from the top. Thomas Ruud, the owner of Trolltunga Adventures, commented that an accident was waiting to happen.

    The public's access to the Norwegian nature is ensured by the freedom to roam, which is also known as "every man's right."

    ​"Without it, mountain life in Norway would have been completely different. But when it gets to places like Trolltunga, it is not an open mountain area anymore, but something resembling a large amusement park," Bjørn Arild Fjeldsbø of Red Cross Norway told NRK, calling for some kind of regulations.

    Local politician Terje Kollbotn suggested charging all tourists an entrance fee, which with 100,000 visitors will provide the local budget with an extra 50 million NOK ($8mln) for equipping the vicinity with all necessary amenities such as a base camp with 100 beds, Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende reported.

    So far, the municipality has provided secured trails and built an emergency shelter in case of abrupt weather changes.

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