Go Skiing from a Surf-Ski in Norway | The Wanderlist 2019
Ski destinations don't come much more out there than this in 2019
What? Paddle across silent fjords to find untapped stashes of powder.
Where? Langfjordbotn, Finnmark, Northern Norway.
Why? Paddling across a silent fjord, with spectacular mountains as far as the eye can see, knowing you are heading to ski a slope on to which few — if any — have ever ventured before, is just about as good as it gets, right?
Finnmark is the northernmost part of mainland Europe. At a latitude of 70°N it’s well within the Arctic circle. The small town of Langfjordbotn, the base for this ski adventure, has a population of just a couple of hundred people — and isn’t exactly overspilling with skiers in the same way that, say, Chamonix would be.
Neither is it overspilling with lifts, helicopters, snowcats, snowmobiles or even sailing boats. Skiing here is pared right back to the basics, a simple, human-powered way of discovering one of the most tranquil landscapes on the planet. Regular coastal storms mean precipitation — aka snow — is plentiful throughout the winter in Finnmark, and because of the gulf stream, temperatures are not too bitter, despite its proximity to the Arctic.
The mountains offer every terrain possible, from very gentle slopes to steep and gnarly couloirs and the beauty of it is that there are so many possibilities, much of it might never have been skied before.
“The region is so big the locals don’t know, and really don’t care about exploring,” says Fred Buttard, co-owner of Upguides, the team of French UIAGM mountain guides who first explored this region more than ten years ago. Upguides believe ski-touring and surf-skiing go hand in hand as the best way to explore this pure, silent landscape. What's surf-skiing, you ask? Well, it involves loading your skis and gear onto a fast, safe, sit-on kayak and propelling yourself across the fjords with a carbon paddle. Dry suits are provided (along with tuition) to ensure even beginners find their way without difficulty.
Accommodation in a typical Norwegian house on the shore of the fjord, from where you start the day with a 45-minute/one-hour paddle to find fresh pow. The beauty about ski touring here is that you start from sea level so the workout isn’t quite as onerous as it might be at altitude. That said, you do need to be fit if you want to get the best from this trip. Physically, it’s a challenge, and the fitter you are the better. Days can be long.
But, when you get a chance to make a fresh descent every day, it's all worth it.
“In May we can ski at really odd times,” says Fred. “If we want to ski something that’s north facing and want the sun we have to ski in the middle of the night. So you start the paddle at 5pm in the afternoon, make a bonfire on the shore and start to walk up at 9/10/11pm. “That’s what’s so special about May in Norway — you lose track of time and live without a watch. That’s the beauty of it.”
When? May, which affords long days out and post-ski campfires and beers under the midnight sun — it’s too dark to ski here until mid-February.
How? Head to upguides.com for contact and booking information.
This has been selected for The Wanderlist - a list of the year’s 50 best travel destinations and experiences, curated by Amuse. If you want an unforgettable trip, this is where to go in 2019.