“For me, it was quite good timing,” Ms. Majala said in an interview, noting how the fall happened right before she took parental leave.
The mountain top’s pending collapse had kept all her colleagues on edge, she said, forcing them to regularly cancel vacations. Surprised at the mountain’s reluctance to fall in 2017, she said, her colleagues began to use water pressure techniques to get it to crumble.
The operation got the mountain to move, but just not far enough. By 2018, the mountain at times was too dangerous for geologists to get access to important sections to install or replace sensor equipment.
As the geologists kept sending repeated alarms, Little Man’s brooding defiance of the experts’ expectations drew a surprising cult following. One website called “Has the Man Fallen” claimed daily traffic in the hundreds of thousands at its peak. On Thursday, the site, founded in 2014, finally switched its answer from “No” to “Maybe.”
Hans Petter Eide, an I.T. consultant who manages the site in his spare time, said he had created it “to make fun of how 24/7 reporters were cooking soup on a nail,” a Scandinavian saying for making a big deal of very little.
Over the past five years, broadcasters live-streamed videos from cameras set up on the mountainside, capturing days of footage of land without the slide. Even for a nation in thrall to the great outdoors and long accustomed to “slow TV” scenes of uninterrupted hours of salmon fishing, knitting and reindeer herding, the 16 false alarms of the expected collapse were an underwhelming spectacle.
Mr. Freiberg, the oil and energy minister, defended the alerts. “Better safe than sorry,” he said. “If we hadn’t evacuated, lives could have been lost.”
When the government-owned broadcaster NRK sent the 16th alert saying that large sections of Little Man had finally fallen, it noted in parentheses, “No, we are not kidding.”