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Photo: Nils-Erik Bjørholt / Visitnorway.com
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In the following weeks and months, 200 plus ski-resorts will open its lifts and slopes across Norway. We've listed five destinations where the winter fairytale kicks off early.

Published: 16. oktober 2017

Autumn is ending. All across Norway the shift between seasons can be felt, as frost covers trails, valleys, forests and mountainsides. In the coming weeks and months, Norwegian resorts will swarm with local ski-bums, snowboarders, hikers and visitors from across the globe. But where and when will the much anticipated snow fall first?

A geographical tapestry

To define the the transition from fall to winter, a useful tool of measurement is the day average temperature. When it climbs below 0 degrees centigrade, we know that winter has officially arrived.

But Norway is a geographical tapestry with ever changing weather patterns, and while Oslo can expect 27 snow-days yearly, northern cities like Tromsø will be enjoying a cool 75 on average. Henning Reinton – Editor of snow-sport magazine Fri Flyt – explains: 

– It is usually locations with high altitude and a stable, cold climate who receives the first permanent snowfall. The exact time and place is notoriously difficult to predict, but most resorts do a good job of adapting to favourable conditions.

Season starts early November

Reinton is a busy man these days. From his offices in Oslo, the magazine and it's staff are preparing for a long and action-packed winter season. Today only a couple of slopes with artificial patches of snow is open to the public, but this – explains Reinton – will soon change. 

– Resorts that open early are usually the ones with ample resources. Many destinations – like Geilo, Kvitfjell and Hemsedal – kicks the season off already in early November. By the end of the month and towards Christmas we can usually declare the Norwegian skiing-season as officially open.

Reinton – an avid skier – says there is something unique with hitting the slopes at this time of year. 

– In early November the days are noticeably longer than mid-winter. If you´re lucky you get both favourable lighting and fresh snow.

Kvitfjell Kvitfjell
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Kvitfjell.
Photo: Kvitfjell Alpinanlegg

New snow cannon technology

This season is looking promising already. Norwegian ski-resorts are investing in upgrades and technology that pushes both earlier openings and stable conditions throughout the season. Many – awaiting favourable weather – have saved snow from last year, and are distributing it through cannons when the temperature drops. 

– New snow cannon technology makes it possible to cover more ground, quicker. This level of effectiveness allows the resorts to kick off the season earlier each year. In addition, Reinton says,

– it's become a whole lot easier to follow individual destinations and slopes through specialised apps. 

For both foreign and local skiers there is a plethora of useful apps and websites available for free. From “Fnugg” – an app developed by Alpinanleggenes Landsforening – to the extensive website Ski-Info to Fri Flyts own regular updates, that track both national and international snow-conditions. Reinton looks forward to many memorable months in pristine, white-covered slopes. 

– I have hopes of many beautiful days of skiing in November, he says.

– Exactly where and when remains to be seen.

Geilo
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Geilo.
Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com

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Geilo.
Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com
Kvitfjell
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Kvitfjell.
Photo: Kvitfjell Alpinanlegg

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Kvitfjell.
Photo: Kvitfjell Alpinanlegg

Safety is important

Winter, however, comes with its own set of challenges. One is personal safety, when thousands of  tourists swarm Norwegian mountains in often challenging and unpredictable weather. Anne-Mari Planke – Chief Technical advisor for The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), says many tourists heads for the hills lacking both experience, equipment and planning.

– Vi see many tourists each year who aren't properly prepared for mountain trekking, she says.

– Often they lack both experience from home and the right equipment. 

Even experienced trekkers miss a step now and again, but in winter conditions the risk of serious accidents increases. On route to popular Trolltunga, for instance, many tourists have required emergency aid in recent years. Anne Mari advices potential trekkers to seek a safe and stable base for mountain adventures. 

– I encourage inexperienced trekkers to seek both accommodation and advice in one of Norways many mountain border zones. There you can continually check routes and weather conditions. Also - The Norwegian Trekking Association hosts over 40 cabins across the country, where one can seek experienced advice before heading out.

The Norwegian mountain code

Like the above mentioned apps and websites, there are plenty of online resources available for the mountain-bound trekker. The Norwegian Mountain Code – a unique set of rules explaining safety and way of thinking while experiencing nature is a good place to start. At the end of the day, however, safety while experiencing Norwegian nature remains an individual responsibility.

– Many allow the long journey to Norway and the longing for adventure to trump personal safety-measures, says Anne Mari.

– The price to pay, however, is way to great should the accident occur.

Here's where the skiing season starts early

Hemsedal Hemsedal
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Hemsedal.
Photo: Nils-Erik Bjørholt / Visitnorway.com

At this time, an exact prediction of permanent snow-fall is of course impossible, but here's a list of popular ski-resorts that's announced opening dates for the coming season.

Kvitfjell - planned opening November 4

Regularly one of the Norwegian skiing-seasons first openers. This year Kvitfjell was already hit September 20, the first of several snow-filled days. Large areas of the park has been reserved for snow-storage, allowing next years skiers to hit the slopes as early as October.  A new part of the valley is set to open in 2017/2018, with two beginner and intermediate slopes. Kvitfjell has 12 lifts and 33 hills, covering a total height of 834 meters.

Hemsedal - planned opening November 10

Frequently declared on of Norways premier skiing destinations, Hemsedal sports 20 lifts and 49 hills covering a total heigh of 830 meters. Especially famous for children, families and intermediate skiers – the resorts is scenically located between Oslo and Bergen. It's longest run is over 6 kilometers long.

Trysil - planned opening November 10

Trysil – the nations larges ski-resort – is a 2.5 hour drive from the capital. It's slopes and parks are family friendly, with a broad range of activities for children and intermediate skiers. The resort is built around the Trysil mountain, with 31 lifts, 67 slopes covering a total height of 685 meters.

Geilo - planned opening November 11

This year, Geilo is upgrading it's facilities for a staggering 30 millioner kroner. The resort offers 18 lifts and 39 hills, covering a total of 378 meters. A new ticket-system will be in place, where riders can pre-buy lift-passes and pick them up at the hotel, ticket-office or local grocery store.

Hafjell - planned opening November 11-12

Hafjell is kicking off their season early this year, opening its slopes from 09.30 - 15.30 november 11-12. Theres no snow stored from last year, but cannons will be in place as soon as conditions are favourable. Hafjell has 18 lifts and 35 hills covering a total of 835 meters.

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