Skiing Norway’s frozen north

29th November 2011, by Alasdair McEachan

Ski touring in the Lyngen Alps  (c) all pics: Alasdair McEachan

Ski touring in the Lyngen Alps (c) all pics: Alasdair McEachan

“There are no piste maps and the piste markings are few and far between. The road signs say: Murmansk 735 km. You are far north here…Libya is closer to Edinburgh than here. And there’s 2m of snow at sea level.”

Head far beyond the Arctic Circle in Norway and you’ll experience another world; wild and remote landscapes that in winter mostly attract hardy ski tourers and those in search of an ethereal experience in the northern light show. Mountains rise 1500m straight from sea level, slopes maintain a consistent 30 degrees from summit to sea. It is up here that you’ll find Kroken – the world’s most northerly lift-served Alpine ski area.

WTSS reader Alasdair McEachan reports back on his experience skiing 70 degrees north – and with some splendid photographs.

70 degrees north in Kroken

We had a week’s ski touring in the Lyngen alps in northern Norway. On the final day the weather closed in, so we took two ferries and a snowy road to Tromsø to check out their little ski area, Kroken. Kroken (also known as Tromsø Alpinsenter) is around 500km beyond the Arctic Circle and around 70 degrees north. The road signs say: Murmansk, in Russia, 735 km.

The resort is on the mainland, about ten minutes drive north-east of Tromsø, and tricky to find. The city of Tromsø is on an island. It was noon on a Wednesday in March when we arrived. Picture: perfectly groomed pistes, a decent covering of fresh powder over the whole mountain, a couple of tows and not a soul about. No sign of a ticket office. A walker explained, in perfect English, that the resort didn’t open until 3pm. So, we skinned up to the top and skied down the deserted piste.

The area has two drag lifts, one of which takes you up around 500m to the top of the local hill (fjell). There are several runs from the top, the longest run at about 2km. The total for the area is 10km. There are no piste maps and the piste markings are few and far between; but there are plenty of off-piste opportunities. You can ski anywhere as the mountain is plastered in arctic snow and the lower slopes covered in small birch trees. Great fun. Lift passes are offered by the hour and we bought a three-hour ticket.

The resort opens until 9pm on weekdays – three hours of twilight skiing and three hours of night skiing. It’s a lovely time to ski, with the orange sun setting over the fjord and the slopes floodlit from dusk.

The first couple of hours we pretty much had the place to ourselves – fresh turns on every run, exploring the terrain and lapping up the views. Things got busier around 5 pm when people arrived staight from work.

Skinning up Kronken’s slopes. Tromsø is behind.

Norway’s northernmost city

Tromsø is renowned as the ‘Paris of the North’, with pretty wooden buildings in a stunning fjordside setting a world away from the country capital Oslo – 2000km to the south. There are lots of coffee shops, delis, bars and restaurants; many of these have a stunning seafront setting. And there is a wide choice of upmarket or more budget hotels too. We chose the centrally situated and reasonable value Amihotel, with friendly staff, free wifi internet and great breakfasts.

Tromsø is a university town and has a lively and sophisticated feel about it. The city would make a great romantic break at any time of year; but, unless you are ski touring, you wouldn’t come here just for the Alpine skiing.

There are plans for a new, more substantial ski area just to the west of Tromsø, which will be one to watch out for if the project goes ahead. Plans also include a hotel and cabin accommodation, as well as a whole host of other attractions. It’s all part of the Arctic Centre project.

Getting there

Norwegian airways stopped its direct flights to Tromsø from London Gatwick in March 2011. But there are other options from Gatwick via Oslo.

Staying there

The Amihotel is a budget hotel, basic and comfortable. Prices start at about 750 NOK for a twin room including breakfast.

There’s a Thon hotel near the cathedral and has rooms from £104.

The new Thon hotel Tromsø is in the city centre, a convenient, comfortable and modern business property with 152 rooms (up to 300 guests).

Leaving the summit at dusk

More about Kroken / Tromsø Alpinsenter

The resort opens 3pm – 9pm Monday to Friday; and 10am – 5pm on Saturdays/Sundays. Buses go there from Tromsø city centre.

As well as two draglifts, there is a children’s tow. And the ski area has hosted the Arctic Challenge snowboarding competition, building various freestyle features on its mountain.

More about the Lyngen Alps (Lyngsalpene)

This unique and unspoiled alpine mountain range is on a peninsula near Tromsø, and a popular destination for ski touring and hiking. Storgalten is one of the highest peaks at 1219 metres. Week-long ski touring holidays operate from February to May. Try

Ski touring in the Lyngsalpene

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