the Lofoten Islands; skiing at 68 degrees North

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After skiing many continents my final goal, skiing all seven continents, is getting more and more within reach. To get a feeling what skiing on Antarctica will be, a trip to the Lofoten Islands seemed a good idea to me. This place is called “little Antarctica” for a reason…

Since 2007 a bridge connects the Lofoten to the mainland of Norway so the easiest way to get there is flying into Evenes airport nearby Narvik and take the bus to the islands. At least that’s the way I traveled to this remote part of the world.

The bustrip alone was beautiful and once arrived on the island’s capital of Svolvær I was truly captured by the beauty of it. When you think of Norway and its wooden houses in different colours in a fairytale setting, visit Lofoten and you’ll see exactly that. It’s a real pleasure to just walk around and enjoy the architecture and the setting.

I have visited the Lofoten twice for about five days. Both times I both explored the islands and skied. It’s a real skitouring paradise because there are plenty of options to ski all accessible from the road. There is hardly anyone else and the scenery is breathtaking. What else do you want?

The most visible mountain to ski from town must be Småtinden. A mind-boggling 662 meters of vertical gives you an amazing view of the area. The run is nice with a rather steep start which mellows down quickly. Then you can choose to go skiers’ left and ski down the valley or stay high and ski down the ridge. A third option is a combination of both where you drop into a nice chute at the end of the ridge and end up in the valley. I have skied the first and last option and both were very nice. To get there you’ll have to pass the village of Kabelvåg and go to the crosscountry track. That will take you to the beginning of the skintrack. Hitchhiking to Kabelvåg is an option but be aware that there are not that many cars around on an early Sundaymorning…

Skiing on the Lofoten Islands was one goal, seeing the main villages and the scenery in between was the other. A couple of villages a really wanted to see were Nusfjord, Sakrisøy and Å. Those villages represent the Norwegian fairytale architecture in a perfect way if you ask me. Sakrisøy was perhaps the most striking because of its waterfront location with snowy mountains on the background and the fact that all houses have the same colour.

Main tourism on the Lofoten Islands consist of hiking and whale watching in summer, Northern lights in winter and a little bit of skiing in the spring. Another activity that attracts people this far north is fishing. Especially cod-fishing is really popular and as far as I have understood people from all over the world travel here to catch some big cod. The smell is not always as nice but the remaining fishheads definitely add to the scenery…

The most popular route to ski and therefore called “the classic of Lofoten” is perhaps Rundfjellet. With its 803 meters of vertical it offers several routes for both the ascend and the descent. I opted for the ascend from the East for accessibility reasons. It’s simply the closest to Svolvær and that would make hitchhiking easier I thought…

I walked to the road with my gear around noon. Many cars drove by but no one was willing to give me a ride to the Vatterfjordpollen bridge which was maybe 5 kilometers away. After an hour I decided to go to the nearby gasstation and try it over there. The lady behind the desk was willing to help me and arranged a ride with a couple in a nice campervan. Ten minutes later I was at the bridge and they looked at the mountain. “Are you going to ski that? Alone?”. “Yep”, I replied. I prepared my skis and started skinning. I said it’s perhaps the most popular route on all of the Lofoten islands but this day there was nobody around. That’s the beauty of skitouring on this remote part of the world. Thirty minutes later I had passed the woods and lakes and arrived at the beginning of the ascend. A rather steep beginning, followed by a mellow middle section would lead me to the final steep section to the top. Weather was good, variable at times but mainly sunny. Skinning alone means you can set the pace and take a break whenever you want. A couple of hours later I arrived near the top, from where I had another beautiful view…

I was surrounded by crowns and debris of multiple avalanches so I decided not to go to the absolute top, about 20 meters higher. I enjoyed the view for a bit and left because of safety reasons. I skied down on the ridge visible in the right of the picture and skied down skiers’ right. A beautiful pitch brought me down to the lake from where I had to skin back to the bridge. This time I did not have to wait for a ride as a fellow skier brought me back to town immediately.

There are many more options to ski on these remarkable islands. I’m afraid I’ll have to go back…

Click here to see more pictures of my trips to the Lofoten!

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