Heliskiing Sestriere

SimenBerg-Sestriere-6046
Text/vid/pics: Simen Berg

Early March 2014, we did three runs with Pure Ski Company in Sestriere.

The soft snow was getting scarce in Monetier. It was a week after snowfall in Serre Chevalier, with some heavy winds destroying what was not protected by the trees. We called Mike at Pure Ski, and they had room for the two of us the following day.

Our guides were Filippo Armand and Denis Boudoin. We did three runs in Valle Argentera, and they were:
- Monti Della Luna (800 vertical meters)
- Telegraphe (600 vertical meters)
- Punta Rognosa, ending in the Sestriere ski resort (1000 vertical meters)

All runs were north facing, protected from the sun. However, the first had parts of it ruined by wind. The second and third were all untracked, fresh snow.

The runs were not particularly steep, but we felt that the guides gave us the liberty to ski the steep sections we could get to, and the only thing holding us back was my need for stopping to shoot pictures.

The first lift costs 200 euros, the following cost 150 euros per person.

We had a fantastic Borgata lunch at  Da Casse (Lou Brachettes) to finish off the day. We spent a couple of nights at Chalet Edelweiss, with an amazing view of the tracks from our last run from Punta Rognosa. A week after snowfall, we found dry, untracked pow in the steep forest, and were really impressed with the resort. As well as the Pure Ski heliskiing, of course.

More info:
Pure Ski  |  Sestriere / Vialattea  |  Chalet Edelweiss

Fatbike in the winter mountains of Hemsedal

Simen Berg, Bjøberg, Hemsedal

Simen Berg, Bjøberg, Hemsedal

Text/Photo/Video: Simen Berg

The Fatbike is gaining popularity around the world. In 2013 there were a few handfuls of bikes in Norway, now they’re in the thousands.

To try it out, we borrowed Surly bikes from the importer, Brown Couch, plus my friend Are. It also turned out he had done the ride we had planned for the day.

BJØBERG – GRØNDALEN
We dropped one car off by the golf course in Grøndalen, not far from Solheisen. Then we got a lift to Bjøberg, close to the highest point of Hemsedalsfjellet.

The skiing tracks had not been prepared for many days, so the climb started off a bit loose. But it got a lot better as we gained some altitude. Basically there was from 5-10 cms of snow on a firm base. The ride was about 17 kms, with a moving time of 1:42.

IN SUM: DID WE LIKE IT?
It was our first experience with fatbikes. It is intriguing to be able to ride a bike on snow like this. But Kathrine and I agreed that we prefer skiing when conditions are like this. I can’t describe how frustrating it was to pedal downhill for kilometers, instead of going four times as fast on skis… And when the snow is gone, we prefer our full suspension trail bikes.

Sykkelkanalen – Telemarkskanalen

SimenBerg-Telemarkskanalen-6123Tekst/Bilder: Simen Berg
English story will follow shortly.

Joda, Telemarkskanalen er så absolutt Victoria og de andre kanalbåtene. Men det er veldig mye mer, og alt det andre gjør området virkelig attraktivt for aktive i alle aldre.

I tillegg til særdeles gode muligheter for kano og kajakk, ligger sykkel høyt på lista over aktuelle aktiviteter. Det er mange merkede sykkelruter i området. Vi testa en av disse i juni. For øvrig har området mellom Ulefoss og Murane en rik industri- og kulturhistorie, så det er viktig å ta seg god tid.

Vi tok utgangspunkt i Lunde, som er et knutepunkt i området, med serverings- og overnattingssteder og naturskjønne omgivelser. Telemark Kanalcamping og Lunde Slusekro har idyllisk beliggenhet ved kanalen, mens de som trenger tak over hodet bor høyt og luftig på Lunde Vandrerhjem.

Sykkeltur Lunde – Vrådal
Kortversjonen av disse 59 kilometerne: Dette er en flott tur på fredelige asfaltveier for de som har syklet noe før. God asfalt inviterer til treningssykling for landeveisfolket, og barn som har blitt tenåringer bør fint kunne ta hele turen. Med yngre barn bør dagsetappene kortes inn.

Vi fikk oss en solid frokost på Lunde Vandrerhjem før start. I bagasjen hadde vi med oss det vi trodde vi ville trenge av mat og drikke. Det skulle komme godt med.

Murane
Etter noen få kilometer på flat asfalt, kommer vi til Murane, som starter ved Hogga sluse. Dette er det mest idylliske partiet på denne turen, med en velfrisert grusvei på en opparbeidet veistubb som kom da demningen ved Hogga kom. Strekningen er 1,7  kilometer og ender ved Strengen bru.

Her begynner også det kuperte terrenget langs Flåvatn. Stedvis har vi flott utsikt ned på til vannet, som ligner mest på sen vestlandsfjord. Når vi nærmer oss Kilen Camping får vi kjenning med vannet som skvulper mot svabergene.

Matauk?
Vi slipper med skrekken på Kilen Camping. For etter noen timer på sykkelsetet er tiden nemlig overmoden for is og kaffe. På bunnen av isdisken finner vi hele tre Isabella og fire Lollipop, så da får det ikke hjelpe at de ikke selger kaffe denne soldagen midt i juni.

Sammen med Omnes Camping er Kilen eneste sted for forfriskninger, så du her avhengig av god planlegging.

Veien videre går småkupert mot Fjågesund, hvor veien krysser broa og følger Kviteseidvatnet på sydsida. Her blir oppover- og nedoverbakkene lengre.

Monsterbakken?
På Bygdetunet i bunnen av Kviteseidkleivene er det på tide å fylle på med både vått og tørt. For 270 høydemeter på 4 kilometer gir 7% stigning og en halvtime med pining av lårmuskulaturen på slutten av sykkeldagen. Da er det desto deiligere å slutte å tråkke på toppen av bakken og bare trille inn på tunet på Straand Hotell i Vrådal.

Straand Hotel
I gamlehuset på hotellet venter rom med utsikt til skiheisen og vannet. Mens vi nyter en god og innholdsrik middagsbuffet blir vi sittende å prate om hvor mye snillere enn ventet denne sykkelturen var. Og krampene vi satt og etter hvert lå og ventet på, kom aldri.

Retur med Victoria
Selv ikke da vi klatra på syklene igjen neste morgen, hadde vi noen plager. Verken med ømme bakender eller låste muskler. På halvannen time var vi på plass på brygga i Kviteseid. Som de eneste passasjerene ombord hadde vi god plass til å slumre under dekk i et par timer.

Fakta om denne turen fra GPS’en (se sporene under)
59 km, 978 høydemeter, tid i bevegelse 4 t 4 min, snittfart (av tiden i bevegelse) 14,5 maksfart 60 km/t.

Alternativer
Varianter av denne turen er enkelt å få til med å legge inn overnatting på Kilen Camping og eventuelt forlenge turen til Dalen. En innarbeidet variant er å ta båten til Dalen, og sykle motsatt vei. Med overnatting i Vrådal og Kilen. I tillegg er sykkelrundene rundt Lunde velegna for ekstra dager.

FAKTA
Telemarkskanalen har sesong fra 18. mai – 21. september (2013)

Reisen til Telemarkskanalen
Alle på vestsida av Oslofjorden har Telemarkskanalen godt innenfor dagsturavstand. Fra Oslo til Lunde tar det under 2,5 timer med bil. I tillegg stopper Sørlandsbanen samme sted. Fra Skien er det også forbindelse med båt og buss.

Tips:
- Kanalcampingen har det meste du trenger til sykkelturen, både for salg og utleie.  Hvis de mangler noe, er det bare en svipptur med bil til Ulefoss og Sport 1-butikken der.

- Bestill utstyr på forhånd for å være sikker på å få utstyr i riktig størrelse.

- Utenfor feriene er det god plass på båtene søndag. Så det kan være et behagelig alternativ til full båt på lørdagene. Bestill billett på forhånd i alle fall.

- Vann trenger du normalt ikke å bære med for mye av, siden det er bra med bekker langs veien.

Aktiviteter i området
Sommarland
Norsjø Kabelpark
Fisking
Kano og Kajakk
Sykling, både landevei og grus
Bruk egen båt
Klatring

LES MER

Telemark Kanalcamping

Lunde Vandrerhjem

Lunde Slusekro

Sport 1 Ulefoss

Straand Hotel

Telemarkreiser

Visit Telemark

GPS-spor
Lunde Vandrerhjem – Lunde Kanalcamping – Fjågesund – Kviteseid – Vrådal/Straand
http://connect.garmin.com/course/4017931
Straand – Kviteseid sentrum – Kanalbåten Victoria – Lunde
http://connect.garmin.com/course/4017922

Stryn Sommerski/summer skiing back on track

SimenBerg-Stryn-5382Baksida: Kathrine cruising on May 18th.

Text/photo: Simen Berg

With an impressive 540 meter vertical drop, Stryn Sommerski summer skiing offers better freeride terrain than a lot of winter resorts.

Read stories in Norwegian: May 2013 and June 2005

This year, I returned for the first time since biking took over as the number one spring activity seven years ago. And MAN, how great it was to be back. We lucked out with warm summer temperatures already 17th to 20th of May, with both lifts running from the very start on the pre-opening weekend.

After quite a few years with issues concerning the running of the resort, it now seems to be solved with new owners and an experienced and dedicated crew.

As long as Stryn didn’t live up to it’s potential for a period of time, both Juvass and Folgefonna have gained ground lately. Especially when it comes to the terrain park and photo sessions at Folgefonna.

The freeriders know what they get here, and are certainly on their way back. Because Folgefonna/Juvass can’t match the terrain. And with Stryn hosting the Snowboard national championships the second weekend of June in a killer park, they will work their way back to the top.

Facts below the pics

Facts

Season:
Mid May – July (or whenever the snow melts)

Stryn and Folven Accommodation, Eating, Night Life
If you come here to go skiing and hang out with skiers, you need to be in the Hjelle and Folven area. Stryn is another 20 minutes by car further away from the skiing at Tystigen. With Folven camping as the happening place, it might be a bit loud on weekends. So if you admit to be too old, check out Nygård Camping or Hjelle Hotel. If you’re not into happy people at a bar, you should stay at Grotli, Strynevatnet or “downtown” Stryn.

Stryn Travel
For a hassle-free life at Stryn you would like to go by car. Nor-Way buses pass Folven Camping that has a ski bus service on weekends this summer.

What else to do
Ski touring, Glacier walking at Olden, Mountain biking, Beach volley at Hjelle, Surfing at Stad.

Resources:
Stryn sommerski
Folven
Tourist office

Folven rando-festival by Tommy Aslaksen

Why go to Juvass (Galdhøpiggen sommarskisenter) instead?
Fresh snow and long season. They normally run from May until the winter resorts open. Amazing early season skiing down to the valley.

Why go to Folgefonna instead?
Snowboard and ski camps and a great terrain park. Opens early May

Bjorli Skisenter early season powder skiing


Text/Photo/Film: Simen Berg

According to the rumours, Bjorli Skisenter isn’t steep enough for proper skiing. That’s wrong.

Snow conditions
My two visits were both on a search for early season powder skiing. Bjorli is known to be among the first ski resorts in Norway to open every season. And as you see, the last weekends of October and November respectively, can provide powder snow in line with January dumps. Low pressure hitting from northwest is your cue to plan your trip to Bjorli.

Read Bjorli stories in Norwegian: October 2012 and November 2008

The Bjorli Resort
The back bone of the lift system is the chair lift that takes you right above the tree line. From there, you can go further up, but I never tried this terrain because of early/pre season visits. The top lift goes to 1250 meters above sea level, and leaves you with a decent 675 vertical meters.
The slopes are popular among ski racers, and before Christmas there’s normally quite a few crews there to practice, including national teams.
The off pist skiing from the tree line and down is a bit dense, but if you’re used to tree skiing, you’ll be fine. Have a look at the video below. Above the tree line there’s wide open areas, though you won’t find steep skiing here without bringing your skins for touring in the area. The nearby Romsdalen area got ranked among the five top places for touring in Norway. The home of Romsdalshorn, Trollveggen, Trollstigen, Kirketaket and Vengetind is a must if you like a sea view with your touring.

My “Best of”-pics from Norwegian ski resorts

Bjorli Eating/Night Life
Normally there isn’t much going on after the lifts close. You can eat dinner at Bjorligard Hotel, where they also have a bar. Fem Stuer is a nice little café/restaurant.

Bjorli Travel/Accommodation
The train stops at Bjorli, just pay attention to distances and logistics when you book a place to stay.

Resources:
Ski Resort: BjorliSkisenter.no
Booking: Accomodation, etc.
Snow conditions: skiinfo.no/ostlandet/bjorli

Facts:
Bjorligard: For my first visit, I stayed at Bjorligard Hotel. A nice place, with nice food and an outdoor jacuzzi.
Gear testing: During my last visit, we tested the new Rottefella NTN Freedom Binding, mounted on Völkl Mantra and Katana. For reference, we had both skis with NTN Freeride on them as well. On top of that, we spent some time on Shiro and Kuro, too. A true Völkl convention, so to speak. I’ll return with my take on the NTN Freedom binding. In short, I like it a lot.

October 27/28th 2012

Pics from November 2008 and October 2012

New Bike Park in Oslo Sommerpark Tryvann

Text: Simen Berg Photo/Video: Simen Berg

PLEASE NOTE – THE BIKE PARK WILL NOT BE OPEN AFTER THE 2013 SEASON!
Drammen and Hafjell are the closest alternatives.

On June 29th 2012, Norway got an addition to the list of lift served bike parks aimed at those who like to fly down trails on full suspension downhill/freeride bikes. Oslo Sommerpark now offers five trails, of which one is a hand built DH race track. Next year they will add another three trails.

Fairly new sport in Norway
Gravity based biking in bike parks really started off for real in Hafjell around 2005. Until then, most of the action happened in Frognerseteren, close to Holmenkollen. Served by line 1 on the Oslo subway system between Skådalen and Frognerseteren. And that’s the same stop you will get the closest to Oslo Sommerpark by the Tryvann tower. More about the other bike parks later.

About the park
This bike park is a totally incredible accomplishment, taking into consideration that it all was built from scratch in less than two months.

But here it actually is, and five trails are up and running, with three more to come in 2013. Bike Park guru Snorre Pedersen from Hafjell Bike Park designs the trails, so no rookie mistakes around here.

The five trails are:

  • Begynnern: Flowy and bermy out in the open.
  • Eastside: Some tables and berms, but mostly tight corners on a narrower, machine built trail in the forest.
  • Fri Flyt: High speed trail with a lot of air time.
  • Stiknuser’n: Singletrack
  • Ryehufsa: Sportsklubben Rye built a downhill track for Norwegian Cup events.

Note: Please note that the videos were filmed on the very first opening day, with loose and wet conditions.

BEGYNNER’N TRAIL June 27th

EASTSIDE TRAIL June 27th

FRI FLYT TRAIL June 27th

About the bikes
Begynnern and Eastside are smooth enough for hard tails until the brake bumps get to tiresome. With a full suspension trail / AM bike you’ll be fine in Stiknusern as well.
With a freeride/downhill bike you’ll be happy all over the place.

Links:
OsloSommerpark.no

More Norwegian parks
Hafjell is the best bike park in Norway. Half an hour from Oslo, Drammen Skisenter offers excellent biking. In addition, you can enjoy lift served downhill biking at Geilo, Hemsedal, Ål, Narvik, Vrådal, Hovden, Ulriksbanen (Bergen), Fjellheisen (Tromsø).

Oslo Bike Park getting there UPDATE

Text: Simen Berg Photo: Simen Berg/Mads Mørch

PLEASE NOTE – THE BIKE PARK WILL NOT BE OPEN AFTER THE 2013 SEASON!
Drammen and Hafjell are the closest alternatives.

Oslo Sommerpark opens with bike trails June 29th. Note that the bike rental already is open on a daily basis with HT/FS mountainbikes and DH bikes. Check their website for details.

Here’s your preview with a few shots and a GoPro helmet cam edit from “Eastside” and “Begynner’n” trails while building is still in progress.

In addition to those two flowy, bermy trails, three more will open at the end of this month:

  • Fri Flyt: High speed trail with a lot of air time.
  • Stiknuser’n: Singletrack
  • Downhill track: Sportsklubben Rye built a course for Norwegian Cup events.

BEGYNNER’N TRAIL June 12th, not finished ( will be 1200 meters long)

EASTSIDE TRAIL June 12th, the finished first half

EASTSIDE TRAIL June 5th

For years we’ve been hoping for the bike park in Oslo to become a reality. But we didn’t really believe it would happen anytime soon. In February I heard the unbelievable rumours that it would open before summer. Totally incredible, taking into consideration that it all would have to be built from scratch in two months.
But here it actually is, and three trails will be opening in four weeks, with more to come. Bike Park guru Snorre Pedersen from Hafjell Bike Park designs the trails, so no rookie mistakes around here.

Links:
OsloSommerpark.no

Pics from the “Eastside” trail

Høyt og lavt på Madeira


Tekst/Foto: Simen Berg (English summary below)

Vandremulighetene på Madeira er mange, fra vannrette levada-stier til loddrette alpine klipper med karrige hyller i.

Høyt
Vi skal på vandretur, og bilen klatrer fra Funchal på svingete og bratte veier. Startpunktet er uvant for en tur i alpint miljø. Asfalten går til topps på Pico do Arieiro på 1818 meter, nesten på høyde med øyas høyeste fjell. Her starter den tilrettelagte gangveien, som til å begynne med virker overflødig.

Fra det brede platået rundt toppen blir stien smalere og smalere. Noen få skritt i den løse grusen på siden forteller oss at her er det glatt som kulelager, og livsfarlig å forlate den opparbeida vandringsveien. Flere steder utgjør den eneste farbare vei i en loddrett fjellvegg, og vi hadde nødig tatt sjansen på å gå her uten gjerdet av stålwire som er satt opp på de eksponerte partiene.

Dessverre for oss er ruta videre via Pico das Torres (1851 meter) til øyas høyeste topp, Pico Ruivo (1862 meter), stengt på grunn av vedlikehold. Derfor får vi bare sett nærmere to kilometer av den spektakulære turen, som er på totalt 13 kilometer hvis du går til Achada do Teixeira. Utsikten er en viktig del av denne turen, så det er verdt å ta med værvarselet i planleggingen.

Lavt
Ponta de Sau Lourenco er det østligste punktet på Madeira. Stien dit går forbi svimlende klipper mot nord, og er absolutt verdt å ta som en halvdagstur.

Fakta
Turene kan fint gås med lave sko, men de bør ha stiv nok såle til at du ikke kjenner det harde underlaget igjennom.
MADEIRA
Vi reiste til Madeira med Solia fra Oslo i begynnelsen av mai. Les mer om Madeira her (snart):
Sykling, Juving, eller Byen Funchal med blomsterfestivalen

AZORENE
Når du først er i Atlanteren, vil du kanskje lese om følgende på Azorene:
Vandring, Hvalsafari, Hesteridning

English summary
The pictures are from hikes from Pico do Arieiro and on the East Cape, Ponta de Sau Laurenzo. Read more about these hikes on this excellent blog.

Slickrock heaven for biking

Text/pics/video: Simen Berg

How about endless slickrock terrain with marked trails for biking in daytime, combined with high end hotel accommodation and food? Including massage, sauna, hot tub and bonfire story telling on top of this. Canvas Hotel in Telemark offers this incredible mix of adrenaline biking and soothing comfort.

Normally, groups of guests arrive by bike on an hour long trail. Others want to arrive on the 1.5 or 3 hour long trails. The latter on the DNT-trail from Gautefall. Luggage is taken care of. Once in the camp there’s a selection of marked trails, for the time being from 3 to 15 kilometers. Guests are divided in groups based on distance ambitions or technical levels, and guides bring them along to give everyone what they came for. Upon request, guides can easily organize multi-day trips in the area as well.

The trails are flowy and not very steep. The slickrock formations offer any imaginable feature, including streams, lakes and deep and wide cracks in the landscape. These are negotiated with bridges and woodwork in to the necessary extent. Luckily, the trailmaster himself is the landowner, who also is eager riding his bike. So in the years to come, there are loads of trail gems in pipeline here.

FACILITIES
The hotel itself consists of 12 comfy yurts with two beds, heated with firewood. There’s a kitchen tent, sauna and bathrooms.
More information:
canvashotel.no
facebook.com/canvashotel

EQUIPMENT
The trails are super smooth, so you’ll be fine on everything from a 100mm full suspension bike. 160mm will be overkill, but no problem. You’ll be OK on a hardtail, but should consider renting a Lapierre Zesty at Canvas.

GETTING HERE
Go on E18 to Porsgrunn and follow signs to Drangedal. Or you continue south on E18 and go on Drangedal signs from there. When passing Drangedal, keep going until Gautefall signs show up. Follow them, and stick to the plan you made when booking at the hotel. Allow 3.5 hours from Oslo and a bit more than 1 hour from Porsgrunn.

GPS-TRACKS
15 km/500 vertical meters from the hotel:
connect.garmin.com/course/133893

Gautefall – Canvas Hotel. 15 km/600 vertical one way on DNT trail. Walking trail that lacks the Canvas flow:
connect.garmin.com/course/211728

More info:
Guide at Terrengsykkel.no (in Norwegian) – terrengsykkel.no/index.php?stid=472
Story in Norwegian – terrengsykkel.no/index.php?id=3941


1327 vertical meters in one run

Text/pics/video: Simen Berg

Only 1.5 hours by car from Oslo, you can do one of Norway’s most amazing All Mountain rides on your mountainbike.  The climb starts at approximately 800 meters (from the tree line), and follows a truly biker-friendly DNT trail to Høgevarde (peak at 1459m, DNT-hut at 1400m). If you go back down all the way to Krøderen Lake (132m),  you’ll have one of the most majestic singletrack/doubletrack runs you can find in Norway. 25 kilometers downhill, of which only 3 kms on gravel/tarmac roads. And only a couple of handfulls of climbing meters.

From the Høgevarde peak you can enjoy a 360 degree view only surpassed by Gaustatoppen in southeastern Norway (straight to your west when standing there). You can also see Tryvannstårnet in Oslo on clear days.

EQUIPMENT
There’s just one short passage on the climb that’s a bit hard to climb, mostly because of loose rocks. In other words, you’ll be fine on a 120 mm full suspension mountainbike. With more travel, you’ll obviously be more comfy at higher speeds back down the hill. A hardtail will also be OK, but not ideal. Additional protection other than the helmet really isn’t necessary, but I’ll wear light knee/elbow pads the next time I go (watch the video and judge for yourself). Two cars make the shuttling easier, but you might get a lift back to the top, or call the taxi (could be expensive).

GETTING HERE
By car from Oslo, you go on E16 from Sandvika and Riksvei 7 from Hønefoss until you get to Noresund. Then you wanna take a look at the map and start planning. It’s 1.5 hours from Oslo, a little less from Drammen.

Resources:
Guide at Terrengsykkel.no (in Norwegian) – terrengsykkel.no/index.php?stid=471
Map/GPS-track – connect.garmin.com/course/983534
Norefjell – norefjell.com
Weather forecast Norefjell (800m) – http://www.yr.no/sted/Norge/Buskerud/Kr%C3%B8dsherad/Norefjell_skisenter

Accomodation:
Quality Spa & Resort Norefjell (Hotel at Bøseter) – norefjellsparesort.no
DNT (Høgevarde) – turistforeningen.no

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