(Sálašoaivi) is a mountain east of the city Tromsø
. The summit measures 1,238 meters (4,062 feet) above sea level. Snowfall varies from one year to another, but the peak is usually snow free only for a few months in the summer. The mountain is easily spotted from the city centre of Tromsø. The summit is a popular hike, requiring nothing more than good shoes, normal physical condition and plenty to drink.
The Norwegian name Tromsdalstinden means "the peak above Tromsdalen
", while the Sámi name is made up from the components Sálaš
. The first word signifies a good hunting area, the second literally translates as "head" but when speaking of landscapes indicate a mountain that is rounded, i.e. does not have any jagged peaks.
Skiing and hiking
Hikers may summit Tromsdalstinden either from the suburb Tromsdalen
, or from Ramfjorden
. The slopes up are not technically difficult, though fog and rain can make the ascent complicated for those not familiar with the terrain. When approaching the mountain from the southeast (Ramfjorden), though, hikers and skiers must at one point move over the southwestern or northwestern (city-facing) sides of the mountain as the mountain becomes too steep. The best season for hiking is May through September. Skiers usually take the Fjellheisen aerial tramway
, and begin their ascent from there. There are two main treks, the Winter trek
and the Summer trek
The Winter trek
A ski trip that starts on the southwest side of the mountain (on the right in the pictures) which is called Salen
(the Saddle). When descending, skiers zig-zag down from the top until they reach the minor lake Tromsdalsvannet
(nor.) or Moskojávri
(sám.) in the innermost part of the Tromsdalen valley.
The Summer trek
A hike that starts on the zig-zag trek used to descend when skiing. On the way back, hikers follow the narrow northeastern ridge of the mountain (left on the pictures). It is, of course, possible to walk the Winter trek in the summer as well.
Also, it is possible to ascend and descend from the northwest, i.e. straight up from the valley. Hikers then start at the Nerloftet
(a low plateu above the Tromsdalen valley), proceed to the half-way stop Loftet
(a protruding part of the mountain facing the city), and then go straight up. The names of these points mean, respectively, the Lower Attic
and the Attic
. This route is quite steep and thus demanding, but perfectly safe.
Controversy over Sámi cultural significance
Tromsø applied to host the 2014 Winter Olympics
. The proposal to the International Olympic Committee
featured plans to build an alpine skiing facility on the slopes of the mountain. This sparked immediate protests from some Sami
activists who claimed that Tromsdaltinden has been a Sami sacred mountain
since ancient times. A heated debate ensued over whether Tromsdalstinden could be considered "holy" or not. The Sami Parliament
enacted a resolution declaring it a holy mountain in 2004
, and the plans were discontinued, however, the Sámi Parliament does not have any formal authority over this area. Lawyers discussed the possibility of defining a mountain as a cultural relic according to the definition of "cultural relic" in the law. Professor Siv Ellen Kraft
from the department of Religious Studies
, University of Tromsø
wrote an article about how Tromsdalstind was made a holy mountain in recent times as a part of sami identity politics
It should be noted that the mountain was indeed reckoned to have been
sacred at one point by Sámis familiar with the region, and also bears the significant feature of a traditional sacred mountain - i.e. that it is the dominant mountain in the landscape. However, the Sámi religion
is long since dead and only survive through local vestiges and neo-shamanism
; so a good case can be made that it is no longer sacred in the traditional sense. However, the level of commitment to the preserving of the mountain shown by the Sámi - up to the point of having the Sámi parliament pronounce it sacred - quite effectively display the intense cultural significance of the mountain to modern Sámi also.