What is snowkiting?
Imagine having your own personal lift. Wakeboarding on the snow with your snowboard where you're both the wakeboarder and the captain at the same time. How about carving down a mountain on your skis just to take another tack back up with the help of your kite? Accelerating? Precisely.
Snow kiting is the other face of the water sport called kiteboarding which is practiced on water. A giant wing propels you across the snow while you ride your skis or snowboard. The potential of this sport is multifaceted. You see? Snow kiting consist of aspects of acrobatics, paragliding, and wakeboarding, while its DNA is rooted in surfing. The same by default is true of its predecessor, kiteboarding.
Since, while learning snow kiting you do not have to worry about sinking on water, it is therefore the perfect transition to kiteboarding!
Who may practice it?
Whether you are 14-year-old excited to try something new and exciting, a 70-year-old wishing to continue learning new things, or someone somewhere in the middle, this sport is accessible to you! Although the sport is rightfully considered an extreme sport, when learning how to snow kite, you learn it in a controlled and safe manner with the help of a certified I.K.O. instructor (International Kiteboarding Organization). The activity is considered an extreme sport due to tremendous power that can be harnessed out of the wing. If they can pull you up a mountain face, you can only imagine the level of force these brilliantly designed wings exert. As intimidating as this may sound, it is as simple as letting go of the control bar in order to fully depower them under normal conditions. Not to mention that in addition, there's two safety mechanisms that will further depower and completely release you from the kite.
Want a mellow cruise to explore the winter terrains or wish to pop a back flip or the latest wake style-oriented trick? How about jumping 10 meters up in the air and slowly gliding your way back into a soft landing? Snow kiting checks all the boxes.
From freeride, backcountry, freestyle, park and racing, snow kiting has something to offer to everyone. As much fun as it is to ride down snowy slopes on your skis or snowboard, snow kiting adds a 4th dimension to whatever your favorite discipline may be.
Kiteboarding - The Other Side of the Coin:
As previously mentioned, kiteboarding is the root of snow kiting. Just as in the latter, the rider glides through a surface - in this case, water - propelled with the wing (kite) by the force of the wind. The device on which the rider glides is of his/her choice. One may use a wakeboard style board with straps or boots (bindings), a directional board (surfboard), or even a foil board in order to hydrofoil in light wind conditions. The pull of the kite rest on the harness(torso) which the rider wears as opposed to commonly presumed - the arms. The rider’s arms are only engaged for steering the kite as well as powering and depowering the kite.
The lessons begin with understanding the "wind window"(the area and characteristics of the aerial space in which the kite is designed to fly, familiarization with the equipment, steering and safety mechanisms, and by learning how to fly an inflatable kite with short lines (15 meters), which present a fraction of the power than a normal kite with regular 24-meter lines. This is our objective for our 1-day kiteboarding course (beach lesson).
As previously explained, kiteboarding mixes wakeboarding, surfing, acrobatics, and paragliding. The sport may be practiced in both flat water spots as well as waves. On flat water spots the rider may enjoy simple joy rides going back and forth, perhaps practicing intricate transitions and jumps, but can also attempt wakeboarding style tricks or foil riding. In the open ocean, the rider may ride waves just as a surfer but with the advantage of being pulled by a kite, allowing him to catch many more waves than a surfer.
Within the sports there are disciplines and competitions such a freestyle, racing, big air, and park (sliders). Truly a multifaced sport like no other.
Why is Valdres a kiteboarding/snow kiting gem?
For starters, Valdresflye. With vast flat areas surrounded by stunning mountain range and the possibility to snow kite as early as November in some seasons as well as late June, Valdresflye offers the perfect learning grounds for the sport (closed from the second week of December until Easter holidays).
Bygdin - Though the plateu (Valdresflye) may be closed for couple of months during the winter, the boom at Garli which opens the road up to Bygdin reopens on the second week of February. This spot is a wind tunnel created by stunning Bitihorn and the adjacent mountain Synshorn. One of the most epic kiteboarding/snow kiting spots in the world and the only true step-out-and-kite hotel in Norway! (Best season: middle of February-May)
Slettfjell - This mountain spot can be accessed with the ski lift in Raudalen, and the spot itself works with all wind directions!
Top of the lifts in Beitostolen - Arguably one of the most practical spots in the world to learn snow kiting since there is a bus that runs from Oslo central station (and even Oslo Gardermoen international airport) directly to the entrance of the ski slopes in Beitostolen. You take the Bitihorn Express (brand new lift) up to the top, from where you only need to walk approximately 100 meters to the teaching spot. During your lunch break you ski/snowboard down to the slope's cantina in the middle of it where you can find hot chocolate and warm food just to ski/snowboard down to the bottom of the Bitihorn Express just to ride it up one more time to finish your lessons.
Garli - This spot is basically an extension of our teaching grounds on top of the ski lifts in Beitostølen. However, if the wind is too strong and therefore Bitihorn Express cannot operate, Garli gives you access to the same grounds just a few minutes north of Beitostølen's downtown!
Bygdin hotel for kiteboarding in the summer - The exact same 1-day snow kiting course can be taken on sand!
The sandy shorelines of Bygdin provide the perfect spot to learn kiteboarding in the summer. Wide sandy beaches are the perfect grounds for learning this side of the sport. Although the water can be a freezing 4-6 degrees, with a 6/5mm wetsuit as well as 7mm booties and 3mm gloves, the cold temperature of the water no longer presents an obstacle. The water here is flat, and the wind is pretty consistent, making it a top destination for kiting in the mountains anywhere in world. Did I mention the water is turquoise blue! Welcome to the Norwegian Caribbean.
There it is! Snow kiting and kiteboarding in Valdres should be part of your bucket list. Whether in the winter or summer or truly all year-round, the possibilities to engage with the sport in this area are basically endless. So, what are you waiting for?
Day 1 - We learn about the "wind window", how to rig up and down our kite, steering, activation of safety mechanisms, and - of course - how to fly the kite!
Day 2 - Ready to ride? The last day we focus on learning how to ride our board or skis! We will learn how to ride while flying the kite whilst being on our board or skis as well as how to ride down and upwind. That being said everyone progresses differently, and the course will train participants individually at the level they are at.
-Kite gear and lessons are included in the price.
-Participants need to bring their own skis/snowboard and helmet or rent seperately of the course price.
-There could be up to 4 participants per course.
-For groups of 5 to up to 40 people, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
-BOOKING SECURED UPON EMAIL CONFIRMATION.
DAY 1 (approx. 7 hours)
9.30 - We meet up and head out to a spot according to wind conditions.
12.30 - We have a 1-hour lunch break.
16.00 - We learn how to rig down the kite (course finished at 16.30).
DAY 2 (approx. 7 hours)
- Previous day's schedule repeats.
(Snow kiting course)
-Skis/snowboard and boots.
-Extra pair of warm boots for resting periods.
-Helmet and googles.
-Wind proofed jacket and pants.
-Big warm down winter jacket or other type of warm jacket.
-Mittens, beanie, scarf, gloves (inner & outer).
-Wool underwear (2 layers recommended).
-Antifreeze cream and sunscreen.
-Lunch, water, and thermos to bring something warm to drink for lunch.
-Oversized thick winter jacket if no indoor area is available on the spot for our lunch break.
-Windproof jacket (dress accordingly to weather).
-Drinks and lunch.
*The 1-day kiteboarding course (beach Lesson/June-October) can be launched without delay as there is no need to get in the water. Exactly the same as the 1-day snow kiting course.
*Snow kiting season - December till May (can be had as early as the middle of November and as late as early June if there is snow on Valdresflye).
Last updated: 11/24/2023
Source: Valdres Destinasjon