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Monday April 3, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

PlanetSKI reporter & adventurer, Squash Falconer, visits the Norwegian Fjords for a ski & sail expedition that includes touring up to the peak of Kopphornet.

"Ah here it is" exclaimed Sverre our guide. 

He was bending down clearing snow, we'd gone off track.  

"This is why I brought you up through these trees, to see if I could find it, I've never been able to find it in the winter before."

He was referring to a huge chunk of metal that he was uncovering, it was part of an engine from a Messerschmitt Bf 109G. 

The German fighter plane had been shot down during the second world war. 

The WW2 plane engine Sverre found in the snowThe WW2 plane engine Sverre found in the snow
















The pilot had survived and walked, likely in the same tracks we'd come up in, down to the fjord.

Standing in the heart of Fjord Norway ski touring in the Sunnmore Alps it was the last thing I was expecting. 

Then again, having started the day on a sail boat in the fjord, this wasn't a typical ski tour trip where 'normal' ski tour expectations would be met.

Fjord Norway has a reputation for amazing ski touring, stunning nature and a rich history. 

I've been lucky enough to experience skiing amongst the rugged alpine peaks and deep fjords once before, but to be back, this time living on board a ship and venturing into the fjords by the traditional route of the sea was very, very exciting.

The majestic sail boat, The Wyvern av Aalesund, built in 1989 is a replica of the Colin Archer design and had a fascinating story itself. 

Built at a German boat building school, it was brought to Norway by a famous painter who is friends with and paints with the Queen of Norway, a keen artist herself. 

She and the King have stayed several times on board and their cabin was opposite to the one I slept in! 

The boat comfortably sleeps 6 people (their skis) plus the captain, but you can fit 8 on board at a push.

The boat in the morningThe boat in the morning
















Ski and sail is a fairly new concept but where the mountains meet the fjords and the snow line touches the deep blue waters it actually makes a lot of sense, not to mention being an incredible adventure.

Sailing with skisSailing with skis















Sunset on the fjordSunset on the fjord




















Ski and sail is a fairly new concept but where the mountains meet the fjords and the snow line touches the deep blue waters it actually makes a lot of sense, not to mention being an incredible adventure.

Our adventure began with a flight into Alesund; a seaport, the gateway to the Sunnmore Alps and recognised for its unique concentration of Art nouveau architecture after it was completely rebuilt between 1904 and 1907 after the Alesund fire. 

Mostly built out of wood the entire town was burnt to the ground one freezing stormy night when a blaze took hold, reportedly from a paraffin lamp in a pack house, where two workers were doing overtime and having a late-night drink. 

One person died and 10,000 were left homeless.

Just 34km from the centre of town our first and only night on land was spent the Storford hotel, popular for hiking in the Summer and ski touring in the winter. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say it was probably the most comfortable night's sleep I've ever had, the beds there are divine. 

The views from the hotel window when we woke in the morning were magical and I couldn't wait to get going, but not before a hearty Norwegian breakfast where it's expected that you will make a pack lunch from the buffet for the day ahead. 

It makes so much sense! 

No need to discreetly wrap a pastry or some bread and a boiled egg in to a serviette, simply pile your plate high, make a gourmet lunch and wrap it all up in the sandwich bags provided.

Evening sailing on the fjordEvening sailing on the fjord
















Our ship was sailing to Urke in Storfjorden, where we would meet it after a ski tour South of the fjord starting in Muldsvor. 

Without the local knowledge of our guide we would never have found the sheltered peak and lovely snow. 

Norway has 'weather' as a local described to us. 

Good weather is just that, but bad weather is simply 'weather'. 

We arrived and had 'weather'. 

With it came fresh snow so it wasn't all bad.  

We began our tour with transceiver training and made our way along a snow covered road, steadily up through the trees and towards the peak. 

Heading along the fjord to our drop off point for ski touringHeading along the fjord to our drop off point for ski touring
















Touring up the snow covered roadTouring up the snow covered road














As the fresh snow crunched softly beneath my skis I knew the ski down would be a treat. 

Making our way to the peak of KopphornetMaking our way to the peak of Kopphornet
















Almost at the peak the weather closed in so we peeled off our skins and with huge grins on our faces picked our lines back down through the trees which eventually met the road we had come in on.

Almost at the peak of KopphornetAlmost at the peak of Kopphornet
















Reaching the peak- KopphornetReaching the peak- Kopphornet at 1,159m














The snow was fantastic.

Flying down the knee-deep powder to gliding along the smooth waters in the fjord was an effortless transition.

Although stepping off the boat or stepping on board the ship with ski boots on is not something you want to get wrong!   

We sailed a short distance to Saebo where we spent the night.

Stepping off the boat with my skisStepping off the boat with my skis














Just a few hundred meters from the dock was the Sagafjord hotel. 

We had dinner there and made use of their drying room facilities for our gear. 

Ski the fjords in Norway have created a very workable collaboration between local providers for accommodation, food and transportation which means with little planning a flexible and perfect trip can be arranged. 

We slept on-board the boat, but ate in hotels and restaurants, we used local guides and arranged local transport when we needed it. 

In Norway, nothing seems to be too much trouble and I found the attitude of the Norwegians absolutely fantastic.

High winds and snow meant the best choice for our second day was a ski tour a little further inland, we headed West of the Fjord and got our gear ready. 

It always amazes how quickly a group of strangers can bond and find a rhythm in this kind of environment. 

We were an international group from Spain, France, Denmark, Austria, the UK and Norway - however we all spoke ski touring. 

The goal for the day was Kopphornet a 1200m peak loaded with fresh powder and stunning views.

After a river crossing we zig zagged our way upwards. 

Crossing the river on our second day ski touringCrossing the river on our second day ski touring
















Svera introduced us to a kick turn technique favoured by the Norwegians. 

It's called 'AVH' and is really easy to get the hang of. 

On reaching the turn, kick back with your outside ski to make the letter A, then bring the inside ski over to make the letter V, and finally bring the outside ski parallel to the inside ski making the letter H. 

Once I got it, I loved it.

Practicing AVH kick turnsPracticing AVH kick turns
















Almost at the peak we saw an avalanche that had gone off just hours before we were there. 

Like in the Alps this year Norway has suffered with late snow, warm temperatures, a lot of 'weather' and as a result an unstable base. 

Local knowledge with these conditions was invaluable. 

After the obligatory summit shots we were all enthusiastic to ski the powder and enjoy the descent.

Back on board the boat later that afternoon we set sail along the fjord to the tiny village (population 8!) of Trandal. 

With no roads and only accessible by boat or foot it is the last place you'd expect to find a pub, let alone a successful one. 

We arrived as the sunset and as I swung out over the fjord on the most perfect picturesque tree swing I really felt like I'd reached one of the most magical places on earth. 

The Christian Gaard pub is a well-known gem in Fjord Norway. 

Serving the local dish, Bacalao, which is dried salted cod in a white cream cheese sauce (delicious after a day's ski touring) it rarely has a quiet evening. 

Each year the pub hosts a folk music festival that attracts over 1000 people and apparently there's a more controversial festival too - the divorce festival!

That night we returned to Saebo. 

Our grand plans of touring high over the next couple days were halted by 'weather', snow and poor visibility had settled in.

We had other options though, the local ski area of Orsta was a short distance away. 

By taking the two lifts (it's a small resort!) we were able to do a tour above to a nearby peak with fjord views, or so we thought. 

As we dug out a snow wall for lunch after touring some way above the lifts it became clear that a retreat back down to the fjord was our only next move, but all was not lost. 

Lunch in a snow holeLunch in a snow hole















Back on the boat, below the cloud we sailed and explored the fjord at sea level.

Amazing reflection of the mountians in the fjordAmazing reflection of the mountains in the fjord
















Snow right down to the waters edge of the fjordSnow right down to the waters edge of the fjord
















On our final evening, we arranged transport to Rekkedal Gjestehus for dinner. 

Rekkedal Gjestehus where we had our final dinnerRekkedal Gjestehus where we had our final dinner
















A unique place for gatherings in four different buildings on a small site that has belonged to the same family since 1868. 

Renovated and run by husband and wife team the focus is on local food that's traditionally prepared and exceptional service -  and it didn't disappoint, it was an incredible culinary experience.

Unique in every way, it's not a restaurant that you can just pop along too or even book ahead for small numbers. 

You have to know someone who can take you - or book an event on a larger scale.  (Sverre, our guide can get you a table there!)

At the end of the trip we sailed overnight and arrived back in Alesund for breakfast before flying out. 

As I carried my skis from the deck to the mainland it still felt surreal to have my skis on a boat. 

Our experiences rich in activity, culture and history made for one of the most unique ski trips I've ever been on. 

Returning to the boat at nightReturning to the boat at night
















Fact Box:

Ski the Fjords 

Visit Norway

Ski & Sail ADVENTURE IN HJØRUNDFJORDEN, all-inclusive NOK 29.500/ Euro 3100 pp

IFMGA Mountain guides Ski Touring in Sunnmøre, all-inclusive    From NOK 14.700 / Euro 1587 (group with min 4 persons).

IFMGA Mountain guide Sverre Hjelmeland Day rate NOK 4.500 /Euro 480

Orsta Ski centre - a part of Alpepass with 9 different lift systems, all within 1.5 hours of drive from each other. 

Orsta Ski Centre has three lifts, is open in the evenings and the weekends. 

A lift pass costs just 300NOK (around 30 euros) and allows you access to 9 of the ski centers in the area.


Click here To arrange bespoke travel


Brosundet Hotel, Alesund

Storfjord Hotel, Glomest 

Sagafjord Hotel, Saebo

Union Hotel, Oye

Christian Gaard, Trandal


Flights to Alesund with KLM & SAS     @skitouringnorway on Instagram

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