Untracked Line: The Fjords of Norway
This region might be Norway's best-kept backcountry secret.
by Berne Broudy, Contributor, Skiing Magazine
She was built in 1882 to haul cod to ports along the Norwegian coast. In 1980 she was recommissioned and restored and now, under the able command of Captain Bjarne Krekvik – famous for crossing the Pacific on a wooden raft – she transports skiers to Norway’s best backcountry skiing. She is the Anne Margrethe, and her knotty-pine hull has carried us into a remote, craggy fjord. Ashore, two hours and three and a half miles into the approach to Kyrkjetaket, a kicker-shaped 4,750-foot peak in Norway’s Romsdal Alps, I’m gasping at the possibilities. Over 220 peaks, snow-covered from sea to summit, stretch as far as I can see in every direction. All look skiable.
Sitting a 40-minute flight from Oslo and a boat ride from the airport at Molde, this region may be Norway’s best-kept backcountry secret. Sure, Norway brims with ski areas – I’ve seen several local molehills – but to get to the real goods, you have to hike.
So we do. We ski early and sail late. We dry our boots in the engine room, pulling on frosty bottles of Ringnes, the local brew, and watch sunsets on the deck. Later in the trip, we overnight in Åndalsnes so we can ski 3,920-foot Smørbottfjellet. We skin up a ridge, a saddle, and then another ridge to vertiginous views of the fjords below. From there, we’ve got a view of Troll Wall, Europe’s highest vertical wall and most famous climbing area. Large chunks of it regularly splinter off and explode on the ground in mushroom clouds of pureed 5.11c.
By the time we summit, the sun has burned a hole through the soupy gray clouds and the snow is corning up. I pick my way through rocks, jump-turn through summit crust, and drop into the cream, slicing through large scenery and vast snowfields that roll into the guts of the drainage. That night we return to Åndalsnes to knock back a $25 six-pack – the market price – and get our dance on with drunken Norwegians to Madonna, AC/DC, and Whitesnake until dawn.
After two more days of spring corn, our Norwegian liaison, Didrick Ose, pulls the plug on skiing and informs us that we’re going to Hoddevika, a surf break that can be so big that the Vikings would drag their 60-foot boats overland instead of going around the point. We pull on five-millimeter neoprene watersuits, hoods, gloves, and booties, grab longboards, and prepare for a schooling.
Price: Six days of skiing with UIAGM guide Martin Volken, boat, minivan, rescue insurance, and food will set you back $3,200. It’s not finalized but Volken is working on a multisport tour: four days of skiing, a day of surfing, a day of fishing, boat, minivan, food, ferries, lodging, and beer for $4,500.
Max Elevation: 6,000 feet
Max Vertical Drop: 5,500 feet
Average Daily Vertical: 4,000 feet
- SKIING MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2008