Reinebringen Hike in Winter: Don't risk your life | Guide to Lofoten

Why we strongly advise against hiking Reinebringen in winter

While Reinebringen in the Lofoten archipelago is known for its stunning views and a relatively straightforward approach, thanks to newly finished Sherpa stairs, hiking Reinebringen in winter is not safe.

Winter changes the trail, making it riskier and more challenging. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s not a good idea to tackle Reinebringen in winter and highlight the importance of putting safety first by following common sense, local advice and municipality guidelines.

Disclosure: Last winter, when a tourist got stranded on top of Reinebringen, the destination company Visit Lofoten received some criticism for using a winter picture from Reinebringen on their webpages. They decided to delete the picture.

We chose to use a winter picture from Reinebringen (stock photo) to illustrate the iconic view so you would immediately know which mountain we are talking about. We believe that discontinuing the use of winter pictures from Reinebringen may not be the optimal solution. In our opinion, using winter pictures is legitimate as long as it is accompanied by a warning/description of the situation or hiking conditions.

Are you planning to visit Lofoten in winter?

Reinebringen trail will be Closed off in winter

Reinebringen is originally a summer trail, but many perceive it as a year-round hike due to the widespread exposure through images throughout the year.

The municipality of Moskenes has now decided to hang a chain at the beginning of the trail to prevent accidents. 

From now on, the Moskenes municipality will put the chain at the beginning of the Reinebringen trailhead from November until the end of April every year. 

“While we cannot outright forbid individuals from hiking Reinebringen in winter, the chain placement indicates the substantial hazards associated with winter hiking on the Reinebringen trail. Given Lofoten’s swiftly changing weather conditions, the chain will remain in place, even when conditions might seem favorable for ascending. This precaution is necessary due to the unpredictable presence of ice on the steps and the potential for snow or rockslides, elements we cannot foresee with certainty.”

– Moskenes municipality

Reinebringen in winter
The peak on the left side of the picture is Reinebringen. The trail ascends from the opposite side of the mountain, but it is still very steep.
Hiking Reinebringen in winter WARNING

The Sherpa stairs were supposed to make hiking Reinebringen safer

Despite the well-intentioned efforts to enhance safety, the Sherpa staircase constructed for ascending Reinebringen mountain in Lofoten has fallen short of preventing serious accidents.

Rather than serving as a foolproof safety measure, the staircase has inadvertently contributed to a misconception about the hike’s difficulty level.

The mountain’s surging popularity, fueled by images flooding social media, has led many to perceive it as a safe and accessible trek all year round.

However, reality sharply contrasts with this perception, as the stairs’ steepness and the ridge’s exposed nature at the summit pose considerable challenges and risks to hikers, especially in winter.

What are the dangers of hiking Reinebringen in winter?

⚠️ The trail is very steep, and the stairs can disappear under the snow. 

⚠️ The snow often covers a layer of ice.

⚠️ The ridge at the top is narrow, exposed, and can get slippery. 

⚠️ The stairs traverse a zone prone to snow or rock avalanches.

Are you traveling to Lofoten in winter to see the northern lights?

Dramatic rescues on Reinebringen in winter 2023

The latest rescue operation occurred in January 2023 when a South Korean tourist triggered a dramatic rescue mission in a full storm with poor visibility.

The tourist embarked on the hike despite extremely challenging weather conditions and constant warnings from the municipality and tourism businesses against hiking Reinebringen in winter.

Unfortunately, he became stranded, prompting two unsuccessful attempts by a rescue helicopter to land in the treacherous weather.

As a last resort, a Svolvær Alpine Rescue Group team was dispatched to hike up the mountain. The tourist had to endure several hours exposed to the elements on the precarious ridge, battered by gale-force winds. 

Fortunately, the rescue team arrived in time, and he emerged from the ordeal unharmed.

This incident with the stranded tourist occurred just 14 days after another individual had to be airlifted from the ridge by a helicopter due to becoming stranded. Here you can see his IG video showing the conditions on the top. 

Reinebringen in winter: Dramatic rescue of stranded south korean tourist in 2023
The title of the newspaper article says: "It is pure madness and it is dangerous!"

Fatal accident on Reinebringen in winter 2021

During the winter of 2021, Reinebringen faced a tragic incident when two women in their 20s were on a hike, and one of them slipped and fell.

The incident occurred right before Christmas, and despite the limited snow cover on the mountain, possibly instilling a false sense of safety, the conditions proved treacherous.

It’s essential to recognize that icy conditions prevail even without significant snow, particularly in the mountain’s higher reaches.

This unfortunate event serves as a poignant reminder of Reinebringen’s unpredictable terrain and the importance of exercising caution regardless of apparent weather conditions!

Death on Reinebringen.
In December 2021, a tragic incident occurred when a young woman slipped on her way down from the mountain, resulting in a fatal outcome.

Do not trust social media and bloggers who were to Lofoten once

It’s essential to rely on something other than social media or bloggers who visited Lofoten only once, potentially during a warm season with no snow.

Unexpected hazards, like avalanches, can occur without knowledge of recent weather patterns. A seemingly harmless thin layer of snow might conceal dangerous ice underneath.

So, talk to the locals rather than consulting bloggers and influencers who visited Lofoten once. And even more importantly, listen to their advice.

Are you at the planning stage of your trip to the Lofoten Islands?

Conclusion: Skip Reinebringen in winter and choose a safer winter hike

During the summer, there were newly assigned patrols ensuring people’s safety. Unfortunately, the municipality doesn’t have enough resources for a winter trailhead guard.

Norwegians are sensitive about limiting access to nature, so you won’t find a sign saying winter hikes on Reinebringen are forbidden. 

However, the presence of the chain sends a clear message, “We don’t want you to hike Reinebringen in winter. Please respect that.”

Feel free to ask us about the winter conditions in western Lofoten
You can also get in touch with us if you want to rent snowshoes or crampons.

One of the safest winter hikes in Lofoten is Ryten and Kvalvika Beach

Quick Guide to Visiting Lofoten in Winter

How to get to Lofoten: Fly to Svolvær, Leknes (local airports), Bodø, or Harstad/Narvik (bigger airports nearby). You can also travel to Lofoten from Tromsø. 

Renting a Car in Lofoten: You can compare the prices for the big car rental agencies like Hertz, Avis, or Budget at the airports in Svolvær, Leknes, Narvik, or Bodø. We also recommend local car rental agencies like Rent a Car Moskenes (located at the ferry terminal in Moskenes) or Lofoten Rental Car (located in Svolvær).  

Where to stay in Lofoten: We highly recommend choosing one basecamp in the western part of Lofoten and another in the east. Avoid changing accommodations every single day. It’s not good for the environment or enjoyable for you, and it burdens accommodation providers financially. Slow down and explore more!

Stay in traditional fishermen’s cabins!

🏚️ Å rorbuer, Å Hamna rorbuer (Å)

🏚️ Reine rorbuer, Eliassen rorbuer, Rostad retro rorbuer (Reine and surroundings)

🏚️ Nusfjord Arctic Resort (Nusfjord)

🏚️ Svinøya Rorbuer (Svolvær)

🏚️ Lofoten Rorbuer (Svolvær) (Note: not a typical red or yellow wooden fishermen cabin, but super friendly owners and managers, convenient location, and possibility to rent a boat!)

 

Check out these unique accommodations with interesting concepts:

🥰 Furu Hostel (Knutstad, halfway between Leknes and Svolvær)

🥰 Skårungen (Kabelvåg, close to Svolvær)

🥰 Trevarefabrikken (Henningsvær)

🥰 Lofoten Planet Basecamp (Sørvågen, between Reine and Å)

 

Disclosure: We choose not to recommend Airbnb in Lofoten, as we believe it contributes to a challenging housing situation for those seeking permanent residence. We, too, face difficulties finding a year-round rental where we would not be asked to move out for the summer.

Top winter activities in Lofoten: 

 

What to pack:

Check out our Lofoten winter packing guide, which applies to northern Norway in general and Scandinavian regions. 

Do you encounter a similar issue where you’re from? Tourists attempting to reach a location despite locals knowing it’s unsafe. If so, how do local authorities address this situation? Let us know in the comments!

Picture of Ivar & Radka

Ivar & Radka

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten. We met in Trondheim and lived together in western Norway, Narvik and Tromsø. At the moment we call western Lofoten our home. We hope our page will make it easier for you to explore the beautiful places that made us chose Norway for our home.

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