Norwegian newspapers, TV and radio have been full of stories recently about one of the country’s “cavemen,” more specifically an eccentric nature lover who’s been living in what the locals call “snow holes” for more than 30 years. Now he’s the star of a movie as well, and admits to enjoying the spotlight.
Sverre Nøkling lives a primitive life mostly on Norway’s Haukelifjell, in the mountains between Oslo and Haugesund. A Norwegian filmmaker, Fridtjof Kjæreng, discovered Nøkling while out enjoying the mountains himself back in 1998, and started following Nøkling over a 10-year period.
The result is a film called Snøhulemannen (“The snow hole man”), which opened at Norwegian cinemas last week. It’s had mixed reviews, but prompted Nøkling himself to take a rare trip back to civilization, to make the rounds of TV studios for interviews.
He told one talk-show host on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he rather likes all the attention, and the movie project clearly provided some diversion from his daily, otherwise solitary life. He has chosen it himself, however, and also said he yearns to return to the quiet of the mountains after a trip to town.
Nøkling, now 58, made the decision to give up a conventional lifestyle back in the early 1980s. He has since roamed from cave to cave over both Haukelifjell and Jotunheimen, eking out an existence by living off the land and others’ castoffs. His lifestyle all but ridicules the consumption-driven culture that engulfs most people. Nøkling claims that it’s entirely possible to live simply and leave the smallest possible environmental footprints.
He confides that his mother never gave up trying to get him to move back to civilization, and take over her apartment. He refused. When she died, she left it to him anyway, but only on the condition he live in it. It apparently remains empty.
Nøkling has money in the bank and doesn’t have to live like a hermit in the wilderness. He simply enjoys it, without encouraging others to come be his neighbours. But he’s apparently not alone. Reaction to his story in one outdoors magazine suggested there are others like him, wandering in the wilderness but also occasionally “helping themselves” to cabins and provisions owned by others.