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The Magic of Arctic Skiing

Arctic Norway is a very special place. I climbed in the Lofoten islands in the 90’s before it was really on the radar, always wanted to ski there but never had the right combination of the right people at the right time. In 2014 I finally managed a couple of weeks in the Lyngen area, and came away totally fired up to do more.

So what is it that makes Arctic Norway such a magical spot?

The light

It’s blue and clear, and even when the weather is poor, there’s a feeling of clarity to the atmosphere that seems to say “keep it simple”.

The scale, the slopes and the snow

The mountains in Lyngen are around 1200m, so very similar to Scotland in that sense. Although a 1200m skin in the Alps would feel big, because you’re at sea level the ascents seem much more relaxed. There’s less time pressure because the snow doesn’t change during the day as much as it would in the Alps.

And when you get to the fun bit, the descent, the slopes can be huge and unrelenting. I had two o

utstanding descents in 2014 where the slope stuck at 35 to 40 degrees for several hundred meters. I suddenly understood why the Scandinavians ski massive pitches t high speed when we see them in Chamonix. Where they learn to ski

, there’s nowhere to stop, so you might as well keep going.

The emptiness

Norway has been a well-kept secret for many years, and although it’s getting busier, the feeling of emptiness to the landscape was palpable. Locals told me that the visitor numbers had doubled from 2013 to 2014. And yet even on the busiest day, we had less than 20 folk on one of Lyngen’s most popular mountains.

And as soon as we struck off away from the classic up and down descent route, we had a 700m couloir and leading down to an uninhabited valley to ourselves.

The sea

When Norway delivers, it takes your breath away

But above all it’s the proximity to the ocean that does it for me. It’s hard to put into words, that feeling of skiing down towards the sea. So I’ll let a picture do the talking:

I’m back there again in 2015 for 2 weeks, with one week on a boat, and a second one based in a comfortable self catered lodge in Lyngseidet.