Never before have the Norwegian mountains been more popular, according to new figures from the Norwegian Trekking Association (Den Norske Turistforening - DNT).
DNT saw a record high number of overnight stays in 2015 and also set an all-time record for new memberships.
DNT's 2015 results showed that there were 412,427 overnight stays in DNT's mountain cabins in 2015, an increase of 11,000 or 2.7 percent over the previous year.
“And that was in a year in which the weather and road conditions were somewhat challenging,” DNT spokeswoman Christine Thune said.
DNT also exceeded 270,000 members last year - also a record.
“Norwegian mountains offer everything from the simple to the challenging and spectacular and attract both those who are used to the mountains and those who need a little bit of introduction and guidance. Both forms of outdoor recreation have become very trendy – I think one of the coolest things one can do nowadays is go into the mountains, regardless of the season or one's age,” Thune said.
Over 600,000 people took part in guided tours in 2015, and DNT said there is a growing market for organized group outings in the mountains. Others have also noticed an increasing interest in Norway's peaks.
“There is a new large demand for guides and short day trips adapted for weekenders, wine clubs, women's groups and business conferences,” Pål Medhus, the head of tourism at Geilo Holiday, said, adding that there has been a major shift in recent years.
“When we tried to offer guided tours ten years ago, people looked at us strangely and said ‘Who needs that?' Now there is a huge demand in line with new lifestyle trends,” he said.
Medhus said that his time at international trade fairs has shown that interest in Norway's mountains has also grown outside of the nation's borders.
“Diet, getting back to nature and remaining active are all international trends. With fresh mountain air, the public right of access and a very professional trail system, we have something that is unique,” he said.
A new survey from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (Norwegian Næringslivets Hovedorganisasjon – NHO) showed that Norwegian values like enjoying the outdoors and being with friends and family are more and more important in today's hectic times. For many, the mountains provide the answers.
“In the mountains, one is pretty much offline. Nature, silence and one's surroundings provide rejuvenation and a space for reflection, a valuable contrast to our everyday lives,” DNT's Thune said.