New ‘hytte’ opens to wide acclaim

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The latest addition to the Norwegian trekking association’s extensive network of remote cottages and lodges for hikers and skiers (hytter) has broken new ground in many ways. Its ultra-modern design still incorporates use of traditional materials, while its large windows and woodwork aim to “bring nature indoors.”

"Rabothytta," the new "hytte" for hikers and skiers at Hemnes in Nordland County, is as spectacular as the scenery around it. PHOTO: Hemnes Turisforening Nordland

“Rabothytta,” the modern new lodge for hikers and skiers at Hemnes in Nordland County, was meant to be as extraordinary as the scenery around it. PHOTO: Hemnes Turistforening

The hytte, located on a panoramic mountain plateau in the northern county of Nordland, is called Rabothytta, after a French researcher specializing in glaciers, Charles Rabot. He was also a mountain climber with a keen interest in Norway, and often visited the Hemnes and Rana areas of Nordland.

Rabot lived to be 98 years old, and 70 years after his death in 1944, the local trekking association (Hemnes Turistforeningen Nordland) planned to formally open their new landmark lodgings on Saturday. It will be the 500th hytte in the national network of overnight accommodation run by Norway’s trekking association DNT (Den Norske Turistforening).

“It was actually a wild idea to launch such an ambitious project as this for a trekking association with just 300 members,” Svein Arne Brygfjeld of the Hemnes Turistforening told magazine D2 earlier this month. It took seven years, 10 million Norwegian kroner and hundreds of hours of work by local volunteers and enthusiasts to build what they still insist on calling their hytta, the beloved “hut” that serves as Norwegians’ favoured form of refuge and relaxation. Most are traditional timber structures resembling log cabins, of various shapes, sizes and comfort levels. Hemnes’ new Rabothytta is definitely out of the ordinary.

The new "hytte," which will be officially opened on Saturday, is built of local materials with windows designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. PHOTO: Hemnes Turisforening

The new “hytte,” which will be officially opened on Saturday, is built of local materials with windows designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. PHOTO: Hemnes Turisforening

The association had a site with building permits for it at an elevation of 1200 meters above sea level, though, that was also out of the ordinary, with spectacular panorama views in all directions and not least towards the mountains of Okstindan and the Okstind glacier. The weather up there is extreme, but so is the view.

“We wanted to create something extraordinary,” Brygfjeld told DN, a building as spectacular as the view. “We thought folks deserved something really special that would attract everyone to the mountains.” At the same time, his association’s website describes the hytte as “modest but robust.”

The Oslo architectural firm of Jarmund/Vigsnæs won the competition to design it. “We have taken the landscape and the view as our starting point,” Ane Sønderaal Tolfsen of Jarmund/Vigsnæs Arkitekter told D2. She and colleague Alessandra Dosberg worked on the project for the past three years. Its panorama windows ere delivered by a local producer from Hemnesberget and feature safety glass and aluminum frames meant to tolerate hurricane-force wind and the climate extremes found near the glacier.

“We tried to use locally produced, high-quality material wherever we could,” Tolfsen said. The same wood from fir trees was used for both exterior and interior walls, “to get the feeling of nature inside,” she added. The timber was a gift from local landowners, hewn at a local sawmill.

The unstaffed hytte will be operated like most of the others in the national trekking association DNT’s national network, available for use by DNT members on an honour system. It will be open all year and members can come and go, bringing their own food with them and cleaning up when they leave. The hytte’s 200 square meters of space (roughly 2,000 square feet) are designed for maximum use, with 30 bunks spread over six sleeping rooms, one of which is set aside for hikers or skiers accompanied by a dog. There’s also an extra sleeping loft, if many people show up at the same time, two living/dining rooms and a kitchen heated by a wood-burning fireplace and electricity generated by solar cells.

It was no simple project to build the hytte at a site with no water or power infrastructure and, at times, very bad weather. The association also had to work hard to raise the funds necessary, though donations and sponsors.

“But now our hytte-dream has been fulfilled, and thousands can enjoy Rabothytta for many generations to come,” Brygfjeld said.

For more information on the DNT trekking association, click here (external link to DNT’s website, also available in German and French) or here (external link to the local Hemnes trekking association’s site, in English).

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund