Residents wait for mountain to fall

Bookmark and Share

After being on alert for weeks, if not months, the now-evacuated residents of a deep valley in Norway’s mountainous area of Romsdal were literally waiting this week for the steep mountainside high above them to come crashing down. Experts predict the huge expected rockslide may occur  this weekend.

This photo shows the mountain known as "Mannen" with its unstable portion circled. Experts fear it's about to loosen and send tons of rocks and debris crashing down on the valley below. PHOTO: Åknes/Tafjord Beredskap IKS

This photo shows the mountain known as “Mannen” with its unstable portion circled. Experts fear it’s about to loosen and send tons of rocks and debris crashing down on the valley below. PHOTO: Åknes/Tafjord Beredskap IKS

The mountainside is known for being unstable, and geologists at the national preparedness center Åknes/Tafjord Beredskap IKS sounded the alarm on Wednesday. They now think the slide will be much bigger than previously expected, forcing officials to evacuate the small farms nestled down in the valley.

The mountain is called Mannen (The Man) and its soars 1,200 meters above the small settlement of Horgheim in the Rauma area of Møre og Romsdal County. The scenic area between Dombås and Åndalsnes is close to the famed Trollstigen mountain highway that switch-backs up and down the rocky mountainside, and it’s also close to a popular area for parachuters and BASE hoppers.

Slides are not uncommon in Romsdal, and authorities, working with Åknes/Tafjord Beredskap IKS, have long been monitoring the mountain with special equipment permanently mounted on the summit and slopes of Mannen, that warn of internal movement. Mannen is one of the most closely watched mountains in the country, and authorities have been relieved that the monitoring equipment works so they can boost preparedness for a rockslide.

The train line through the valley below was halted and residents evacuated on Wednesday. Geologists warn that more rain and shifting temperatures will likely increase the instability of the mountainside this weekend.

Meanwhile, some Norwegians were joking that the situation was giving an entirely new meaning to the Norwegian concept of “slow-TV” that has caught on around the world. Cameras are constantly focused on the mountain, with state broadcaster NRK publishing links to live video (external link, text in Norwegian) for those interested in watching and waiting to possibly see the side of the mountain come crashing down. (NOTE TO READERS: NRK has warned of bouts of technical trouble, but if you go to the link, click on the red arrow under NRK’s top photo.)

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund