Norway is synonymous with crowd-free adventurous ski touring and the guarantee of a true wilderness adventure. A unique experience that has a very different feel to resort based alpine skiing..
The Fjordland of Western Norway lying at 62ºNorth offers this and more. A truly stunning landscape, the locals view the area as having the best skiing and ski-touring in Norway.
As of last year, the region has become easily accessible for skiers travelling from the UK, with the introduction of a direct link from London Gatwick to the picturesque coastal town of Alesund with the low cost carrier Norwegian.
We have based our ski touring week in the Romsdalen region, and to make the most of this diverse, stunning terrain, we are offering a flexible approach, exploring 2 of the regions best areas.
The Fjordland of western Norway is a truly stunning landscape. The area offers a range of activities in both winter and summer. With lots of separate ski areas and mountains easily accessible, this is perhaps the best off-piste and ski touring destination in Scandinavia.The main town, Alesund, is the adventure capital of the fjords and is a vibrant, colourful locale.
The areas of Romsdal, Sunnmore, Geistangerfjord and Trollstigen all offer great ski touring opportunities. The area is compact and accessible, but with more variation than the Lyngen Alps in the far north of Norway. It is home to some of Norway's best ski mountains: Kirketaket, Blaanebba, Skjervan, Grotet and Norstinden.
The starting point is Alesund a small city located on the western coastline of Norway about 350 miles north west of Oslo. Alesund has its own airport and there are daily flights with Norwegian from London Gatwick. Indirect flights from other UK airports via Oslo.
To begin, we will travel from Alesund to Valldal, less than 2 hours travel following the coast of the Storfjord. We will be staying at the unique Juvet Landscape Hotel and using this as our base for the first 3 – 4 days. This is a destination in itself, the hotel having won many architectural awards for its unique design, seeming to grow out of the forest that surrounds it. Our enigmatic host Knut will introduce us not only to the history and culture of the area, but also its unique food. Cod, salmon, reindeer and flat bread will be aplenty….
From here it is possible to tour from the door or use the world famous Geiranger-Trollstigen road that climbs to a pass at over 700 metres. This high level start, with transport by either van, 4x4, skidoo or husky sledge depending on the season allows us to access some of the highest and most dramatic summits in the region. Peaks such as the Ringshornet offer a gentle introduction, whilst the neighbouring summit of Storfjellet guarantees wide open untracked slopes. From the majestic summit of the Hogstolen, with its mind blowing 360º views of the region, it is possible to descend well over 1300 vertical metres to the valley floor, ending at the serene ‘summer farm’ below.
The Trollstigen or Troll Wall is best known in the climbing and base-jumping world, and has Europe’s highest vertical drop at over 1000 metres. It is possible to tour up to the top of the wall and peer over the edge (with considerable caution!) before heading to the 1800 metre summit of Breitinden. Options for some steep gully skiing or more open descents beckon.
Whilst this area is compact, its variety is almost endless. Our approach throughout will be to maintain as much flexibility as possible in planning the days, to make the most of conditions and work to the ability and experience of the group. This may even involve a stay in one of the regions huts if the group decides.
There is also the opportunity to travel to Stranda for the day. Just 20 minutes down the road and a short hop across the fjord on a ferry, Stranda is the regions best ski area. So if the weather is not perfect, group are looking for a more relaxing day, or would like to make the most of a powder dump, this is a great option and one not found in regions further north.
We then travel by road and ferry through stunning fjord scenery to the small town of Saebo. Here we stay at the Sagafjord hotel, which sits on the shore, and boasts it’s own jetty.
From here, there are yet more stunning ascents waiting, such as Skarasalen where views open up to reveal the sea below. Many descent options end at the shore itself giving over 1500 vertical metres where we will be picked up by boat and taken directly back to our hotel! There are many other options here such as the glaciated slopes of Kolastinden, with its truly epic scenery.
The adventure ends with a return to Alesund to enjoy this unique town and the best seafood you are likely to find.
Head back to the airport for the flight home.
We strongly recommend this for intermediate ski tourers who enjoy the ascents as much as the descents. Minimum of 2-3 hours of skinning per day
The terrain is not difficult, with non-technical skinning and skiing. There are more tricky descents available, but all difficulties can be circumnavigated
A 'typical day' begins with a breakfast at 7.30-8.00 for an 8.30 departure. This allows us to have skis on and ready to go by 9.30, early enough for most routes. Most routes can be completed within 5-6 hours or so, with packed lunch on the summit. Later in the season, evening or late night outings can also be enjoyed!
The skiing differs from the Alps in that we have the opportunity to summit new peaks every day plus the opportunity to ski from 'Summit to Sea'. With long daylight hours there is less need for early rises to get the best/safest snow.
The region offers a very unique culture...the warm spirit of the locals, their adventurous outlook on life, and incredible food caught fresh from the sea and farmed sustainably from the land
The region can certainly be described as 'crowd free'...no busy summits and overcrowded huts here!
Whilst expensive there is no real difference when compared to some of the more up-market resorts in the Alps
The price includes full board accommodation (6 evening meals) with daily packed lunches, 6 days guiding with local IFMGA Mountain Guides, all local travel and transfers.
The price excludes travel to/from Alesund, uplift costs, equipment hire, 1 evening meal, drinks, snacks and other personal expenses.
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This is an extensive list of the equipment you will need if you are coming on our Fjordland Norway ski trip.
During the trip you will be staying in very comfortable hotels on a full-board basis. You will just need to carry a day pack with your avalanche safety equipment and a few personal items. Your luggage will be transferred between the hotels.
For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.
For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufactures:
Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com
Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com
Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com
Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us
Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com
If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.
It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking up hill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best.
Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
Over a long multiday tour every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
Food and Water
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.
Norway is a Scandinavian country boarding Sweden to the east and Finland and Russia to the north-east. It has a long coastline facing the North Atlantic Ocean.
With a population of just over 5 million people (2013) and its capital city of Olso; the country comprises of mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. It hosted the winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994 and prior to that in Oslo in 1952.
Norway's rugged coastline facing the North Atlantic comprises of deep fjords and many thousands of islands. Much of the country is dominated by mountainous high terrain. The west coast experiences high amounts of precipitation brought in on the Gulf Stream and prevailing westerlies.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
Our Introductory level is suitable for people who can ski red and black pistes in resorts without problems and you can deal with moguls and some ice. You will be new to off-piste skiing or maybe have dabbled a little on the sides of the piste or even attended a previous off-piste specific course. You would like to ski powder snow with confidence and learn to link turns off-piste in a variety of terrain as well as being able to control your speed and adjust your turn radius.
Introductory level ski touring trips are appropriate for people looking for their first touring experience. The pace is relaxed and typically we skin for 2-4hrs per day so ascents are about 500 - 800m vertical. You need to be a reasonable off-piste skier (at our Off-Piste Development level), able to link controlled parallel turns in powder snow and ski through trees in control. You need to be prepared to hike short sections on foot carrying your skis on your rucksack (though you won’t need any specific mountaineering knowledge, so crampons and an ice axe are usually not required).
Off-Piste Coaching and Adventure
For our Intermediate graded off-piste ski courses and trips you will have at least a couple of weeks off-piste skiing experience and /or received some previous instructions on an off-piste specific course. You can link 10-12 turns together in reasonable control, speed and style, following the fall line in most conditions. If you’re looking to improve your technique in deeper snow and steeper slopes then our Off-Piste Coaching Development trips are for you. These are instructor-led courses.
If you want to get some miles under your skis then look at our Off-Piste Adventure Intermediate trips which are led by our team of Mountain Guides. On the Adventure courses you can expect to hike or ski tour short distances to get to better snow and terrain, although no previous ski touring experience is required.
These tours will involve around 3-5hrs of skinning per day, achieving around 800 – 1000m of vertical ascent. We would expect you to be able skin to a pace of 300m of vertical ascent per hour. You need to be able to execute good uphill kick turns on steeper slopes and have some familiarity with use of crampons and ice axe. You need to be a reasonably strong off-piste skier able to deal with a variety of snow conditions (powder, crust, slush) and able to ski on steeper and narrower slopes with the requisite ability and confidence for exposed sections.
For our Advanced Off-Piste Coaching courses you should be an excellent piste skier and have many years experience of skiing off-piste. You should be able to ski off-piste in most conditions linking controlled parallel turns, ski bumpy terrain, trees, narrow gullies and enjoy pushing yourself to achieve new things. Your skiing should be reasonably fluid and autonomous i.e. you can already adapt your turn radius and speed to the terrain and snow conditions off-piste. This course will focus on the technical and tactical skills to ski steep terrain, jump turns and line choice as well as refreshing your avalanche skills and mountain safety. The mission is for your skiing to become more dynamic and reactive!
You are an experienced and confident off-piste skier able to handle most snow types and conditions, you can ski steep slopes (30 degrees+) and make short turns in gullies and ski through trees. These skills have been learned over a number of years of skiing off-piste with mountain guides or experienced groups of friends. You are happy to ski tour to access descents and better snow, so you will have previously used ski touring equipment and can do effective and safe uphill kick turns. You aspire to ski the best snow available and are happy to push yourself to reach the best snow and terrain.
Advanced-level tours are for experienced ski tourers who’ve previously completed another hut-to-hut trip or multiple day tours. A large proportion of the terrain may be steep and exposed; thus confidence in your uphill kick turns on 35+ degree slopes is a must, as is your ability to ski slopes of 40 degrees. You will be a strong, fluid off-piste skier able to handle all conditions. You will be confident of using crampons and an ice axe and happy scrambling/climbing on snow and rock on short climbs to summits, and in gullies to gain a col.
You can ski fluidly and autonomously on all terrain. You often ski couloirs and gullies and seek out steep slopes and you can jump turn in narrow couloirs and have experience of abseiling and sideslipping on steep terrain. You can ski fast with fluid ‘freeride’ style turns and can jump off small rocks and ski trees with no fear or problems. You are happy to ski tour and hike to reach the best snow and terrain and you should have some basic knowledge of using crampons and ice axe. Your aims are to push your skills and challenge yourself further.
Expert level ski tours are pure ski mountaineering journeys in the high mountains. You must be confident skiing steep exposed terrain and ski touring for at least 5 hours per day with long ascents. You will be expected to climb on your feet carrying your skis on your pack to summit mountains above 4000m in altitude. You must be completely confident with your crampon placement and use of an ice axe and you will have some basic rope skills and be happy walking along exposed ridges on mixed terrain to gain the summits of peaks.
You are fit enough to ski all day with only short stops for food and drink. You can ski off-piste all day without being too tired at the end of the day; you can ski in this way for multiple days on your holiday. You can also hike or ski tour for around 2 hours per day. You’re used to doing cardiovascular exercise 3 to 4 times a week (bike, run, gym) to maintain your fitness, and you’re able to push yourself if needed for short periods of time at a higher rate than usual.
You can ski all day comfortably off-piste with only short stops for food and drink, you can do this for multiple days on your holiday. If necessary you can ski tour for around 1-2 hrs up hill plus your happy to do a few short hikes to access good snow with your skis on your shoulder or rucksack. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
You can ski all day comfortably and will be expected to ascend on skis at around 400m/hr and be able to skin for at least 5hrs with up to 1000m to 1300m of ascent per day. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.