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Ski touring

Uphill + downhill = the best of both worlds

Ski touring in the Lyngen Alps .
Photo: Visit Lyngenfjord
Ski touring in the Lyngen Alps .
Photo: Visit Lyngenfjord

“The best thing about ski touring is that it gives you a combination of great outdoor experiences, a physical challenge when you ascend the mountain, and an exhilarating feeling when you ski downhill,” says Erlend Sande.

He is editor-in-chief of the Norwegian magazine Fri Flyt, which focuses on adrenaline-filled activities in nature. Ski touring has been a passion of his since he was about 17 years old.

Ski touring in Northern Norway .
Photo: Lars Mathisen / Visit Tromsø
Ski touring in Northern Norway .
Photo: Lars Mathisen / Visit Tromsø

“You get this amazing sense of accomplishment when you make your way to the top before you descend, all using nothing but raw human power,” he says.

Ski touring in Myrkdalen .
Photo: Sverre F. Hjørnevik / Fjord Norway
Ski touring in Myrkdalen .
Photo: Sverre F. Hjørnevik / Fjord Norway

You see, here in Norway you have to 'earn your turns', as they say in the ski touring community. There are no helicopters that take you to the top.

Ski touring to Nyheitind .
Photo: Einar Engdal / Visit Northwest
Ski touring to Nyheitind .
Photo: Einar Engdal / Visit Northwest

But do you want to know a secret?

Ski touring is actually achievable for most people. You just have to prepare yourself, learn how to make the trip as safe as possible, and get to know how to use the equipment.

Ski touring selfie in Sunnmøre .
Photo: Visit Norway - Torstein Greni / GR&EI
Ski touring selfie in Sunnmøre .
Photo: Visit Norway - Torstein Greni / GR&EI

If you want to start your ski touring dream, you can attend courses in several places in Norway. You also find excellent, certified guides who would love to take you on your first adventure.

What are you waiting for?

Ski touring adventure in Sunnmøre .
Photo: Visit Norway - Torstein Greni / GR&EI
Ski touring - Sunnmøre .
Photo: Visit Norway - Torstein Greni / GR&EI

From glaciated peaks rising directly from the Arctic waters to breathtaking fjordscapes and remote alpine summits – ski touring is a thrilling way to discover untamed Norwegian nature. It is, however, called an extreme sport for a reason.

Safety first

So, before we talk about all the amazing places you can go ski touring, it is crucial to cover the most important aspect of this activity: how to make it home in one piece.

The rule is simple: don’t go ski touring by yourself if you don't have any experience. Join a tour with guides that help you find the right equipment and show you how to use it. They will also choose routes based on your skills, the weather conditions, and avalanche risks.

“To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, you also have to be in a good physical shape and have experience from downhill skiing in varied and difficult terrain,” Sande explains.

He says that people who plan to embark on ski touring adventures should stay active throughout the year to ensure they’re fit for the fight.

Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon is a big fan of friluftsliv and the outdoors, and he has some advice for you as well.

Get ready

As the Crown Prince says, you should always check the avalanche warnings before you go ski touring. Get the latest forecast at varsom.no, or download their app, which is also available in English.

Equipment is crucial when ski touring, and Sande highlights the importance of knowing how to dress and pack smart.

“In addition to the mandatory avalanche equipment, I would highly recommend you bring hot drinks, spare mittens, and a bivouac sack for shelter in case of emergencies,” says Sande.

Our safety for ski tourers page shows you what to bring and what to wear.

Note that seasoned ski tourers should also join guided tours if they are visiting an area for the first time. In Norway, the conditions can vary from one side of the mountain to the other, and the weather can change quickly, so nothing beats local knowledge. 

If you're brand new to the ski touring world, you should check out these tips for beginners from the experts.

Where to go ski touring in Norway

Now that you’re up-to-date on what you need to know before you go ski touring – it’s time to get inspired!

What’s so great about ski touring here is that you don’t have to climb insanely difficult mountains to have a good time.

“There are trips for all levels in the most popular ski touring areas,” says Sande, who regularly goes ski touring with his kids, who are 10 and 13 years old.

He has also co-written a book for Fri Flyt called “Safer ski touring in Norway”, showcasing recommended skiing routes. So it's safe to say Sande knows a thing or two about where you should go ski touring in Norway.

Avalanche safety

Each year, avalanches in Norwegian mountains kill an average of five people, most of whom are ski tourers. Foreign visitors make up a disproportionately large share.

Stay safe by following these rules:

1. Take a course to learn more about avalanches, avalanche terrain, and avalanche hazard ratings, even if you are not planning on travel through avalanche terrain.

2. Be aware that you can be caught in an avalanche on flat terrain. An avalanche can run three times the vertical drop from fracture line.

3. We strongly recommend the use of a local ski guide, both for your safety and for assuring a better and more interesting experience.

4. Start planning your trip at the avalanche forecast site varsom.no.

5. Download the Varsom app from App store or Android store. With Varsom, you can share and access information about local conditions, and download offline maps.

6. Stay updated on the weather conditions in your area with yr.no and senorge.no.

7. Always bring an avalanche transceiver, a probe and a shovel when you are in avalanche terrain.

A good place to start is Fjord Norway, with Sogndal, Stranda and Ørsta in the Sunnmøre region or Åndalsnes in the Northwest,” says Sande.

One of the reasons Fjord Norway is so popular is that you get the sea to summit experience. We’re talking winter views of the epic fjords!

You can also join pre-packaged sail to ski tours that include boat trips to ski touring destinations.

Skiing in Luster, Fjord Norway .
Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik / www.fjordnorway.com
Skiing in Luster, Fjord Norway .
Photo: Sverre Hjørnevik / www.fjordnorway.com

There are also some amazing tours in Northern Norway.

Sande says that “people from all over the world dream of going skiing here.” Destinations such as Lyngen, Narvik, and the areas surrounding Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja are the biggest hot spots. Many of them also offer sail to ski experiences.

Winter in Senja, Northern Norway .
Photo: Kristin Folsland Olsen / Visitnorway.com
Winter in Senja, Northern Norway .
Photo: Kristin Folsland Olsen / Visitnorway.com

Here, you get to ski under the Arctic sky …

Ski touring in Narvikfjellet .
Photo: Rune Dahl
Ski touring in Narvikfjellet .
Photo: Rune Dahl

… and maybe even under the northern lights.

If you want a remote and exclusive adventure – head to Svalbard!

Ski touring under the northern lights .
Photo: Lars Mathisen / Visit Tromsø
Ski touring under the northern lights .
Photo: Lars Mathisen / Visit Tromsø

Ski touring is not only about panoramic views of the coastline, though. You can also explore the inland mountains, for instance in the Gudbrandsdalen valley (video) or in the Jotunheimen mountains.

Sande describes the inland mountains as “a world of its own, with glaciers and staggering peaks.”

Inland skiing is also popular in Hemsedal, the Rondane Mountains, and several other destinations in Eastern Norway.

Ski touring in Gudbrandsdalen .
Photo: Nasjonalparkriket
Ski touring in Gudbrandsdalen .
Photo: Nasjonalparkriket

“What’s so great about ski touring in Norway, is that we have beautiful and accessible mountains scattered all around the country.

In addition, the terrain is actually easier compared to destinations such as the Alps," says Sande.

“And in spring, which is the dream season for downhill skiing, the days are longer and brighter!”

Ski touring in Jotunheimen .
Photo: Martin Andersen
Ski touring in Jotunheimen .
Photo: Martin Andersen

Erlend Sande has drawn up a list exciting top ski touring hot spots.

Check them out!

Ski touring to Melsnipa .
Photo: Siri Tautra
Ski touring to Melsnipa .
Photo: Siri Tautra
Avalanche safety

Each year, avalanches in Norwegian mountains kill an average of five people, most of whom are ski tourers. Foreign visitors make up a disproportionately large share.

Stay safe by following these rules:

1. Take a course to learn more about avalanches, avalanche terrain, and avalanche hazard ratings, even if you are not planning on travel through avalanche terrain.

2. Be aware that you can be caught in an avalanche on flat terrain. An avalanche can run three times the vertical drop from fracture line.

3. We strongly recommend the use of a local ski guide, both for your safety and for assuring a better and more interesting experience.

4. Start planning your trip at the avalanche forecast site varsom.no.

5. Download the Varsom app from App store or Android store. With Varsom, you can share and access information about local conditions, and download offline maps.

6. Stay updated on the weather conditions in your area with yr.no and senorge.no.

7. Always bring an avalanche transceiver, a probe and a shovel when you are in avalanche terrain.

Popular destinations

Fjord Norway and Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja are popular ski touring destinations. Discover even more cool places to go ski touring below.

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    Ski touring for beginners

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