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

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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

More on Norway’s best skiing and ski resorts (work in progress):
Hemsedal skisenter ski resort
Narvik skisenter ski resort
Stryn Sommerskisenter Glacier summer skiing
Turtagrø Hotel Hurrungane Jotunheimen topptur backcountry touring skiing

Narvik offers Norway’s best freeride skiing – diving into the fjord

Text/pics: Simen Berg/Kathrine Duun Moen

The best lift-served skiing in Norway is by far Narvikfjellet. The 1832 meter long gondola ride itself is worth the trip to Narvik.

2013 Links and video added below

Unfortunately it is far to travel, also for most of us Norwegians. But if you leave Oslo Thursday evening, and return Monday morning in time for work, anyone can do it without wrecking the relationship to your boss, smashing your budget or planning months ahead. Because you do want to know that the conditions are right. And in late April, you might very well encounter 30 cms of fresh snow that stays dry for the top 800 vertical meters.

The reasons why I rate it the best skiing in Norway (ahead of Hemsedal) is:
– The vast freeride terrain facing three directions right off a fairly effective lift system.
– The view of the fjord and the surrounding mountains.
– The runs from Mørkholla/Tredjetoppen that you reach after a 25 min hike.
– The fact that you’re in an actual city.
– The easy access by plane/bus (Widerøe to local Fagernes airport, Norwegian/SAS to Evenes)
– The short distance to epic touring in Lofoten or guaranteed snow at Riksgränsen.

Riders: Kathrine Duun Moen/Simen Berg

Obviously it’s an awesome place for freeride/downhill biking. This is Emil Carlson bombing. In 2011, locals started working on the not-so-downhill “Black kids” track, that will attract more normal riders. As opposed to the old and more hard core downhill track. Also Rallarveien from Bjørnfjell to Rombaksbotn is totally awesome on a FS or HT mountain bike.

Check out a full run, top to bottom, 888 vertical meters:

FACTS
To go to Narvik, you catch a plane to Evenes/Harstad airport, and catch a bus transfer. Or go via Bodø to catch a Widerøe flight directly to Narvik.
narvikfjellet.no | facebook.com/Narvikfjellet
destinasjonnarvik.com | facebook.com/DestinationNarvik

ACCOMMODATION
On the main street, you can stay at Quality Hotel Grand Royal (redecorated in 2012) or the new landmark Rica Hotel Narvik from 2012. They both have nice rooms, great food and awesome sky bars.

MORE PICS
April 2013 pics on Fri Flyt
More powder freeride pics in my “Best of Norwegian Ski Resorts” gallery
(featuring skiing/snowboarding in Hemsedal, Narvik, Stranda, Fjellsetra and Norefjell)

MORE ON APRIL SKIING IN NARVIK
2013 Fri Flyt story | 2010 Fri Flyt story

More on Norway’s best skiing and ski resorts (work in progress):
Hemsedal skisenter ski resort
Bjorli skisenter ski resort
Stryn Sommerskisenter Glacier summer skiing
Turtagrø Hotel Hurrungane Jotunheimen topptur backcountry touring skiing

Turtagrø – design hotel in the mountains

At 884 meters above sea level, you find one of Norway’s  architectural gems. Turtagrø Hotel has it’s origin back to 1880’s, when the Drægni family established their hotel business.

REOPENED 2002
Unfortunately the original hotel burned to the ground in 2001, but the late Ole Drægni decided to have a new hotel built. He hired the amazing architects Jarmund/Vigsnæs Arkitekter (jva.no), and from day one, the new hotel became a landmark. The pictures will have to speak for themselves. The interior and furniture is specifically designed, piece by piece.

Turtagrø Hotel. Photos: Bergphoto.net

HIKING and CLIMBING
The hotel is the natural starting point for many of the most stunning hikes in Norway. With the third highest peak in Norway, Store Skagastølstind (“Storen”, at 2405 meters), as the most attractive for climbers, there are still handfulls of of other peaks to be reached without the use of ropes. Fannaråken has a DNT-hut at 2067 meters, and it’s just a three hour walk from the hotel.
– Some pics from Fannaråken and Skogadalsbøen (also DNT)
– Read my story from Fannaråken sunrise (pdf, in Norwegian, English, German)

SKIING
In April, May and June conditions are excellent for spring skiing and snowboarding. But there are no lifts, though. Still High Camp, the ski/snowboard touring festival organized by Fri Flyt, gathers more than 700 participants the second weekend of May.
The road up to the hotel is open all year. The road across Sognefjellet to Lom normally opens around 1st of May, and the road to Øvre Årdal opens mid to late May.
Story on skiing in Hurrungane + Sogndal (Sogn + Sogndal Skisenter) 2014
Skiing Soleiebotntind + Fannaråken 2012
– Skiing pics from the area,
– Some more from Nordre Skagastølstind

Turtagrø Hotell, with Skagastølstindane in the background

Turtagrø Hotell, with Skagastølstindane in the background. Photo: Bergphoto.net

Anne Marit Lia skiing Dyrhaugstind with Riingstind and Austabotntind in the back. Photo: Bergphoto.net

LINKS

Turtagrø Hotel + Wikipedia article in Norwegian
High Camp
(touring/backcountry ski/snowboard festival in May) by Fri Flyt Magazine

More on Norway’s best skiing and ski resorts (work in progress):
Narvik Skisenter ski resort
Bjorli Skisenter ski resort
Stryn Sommerskisenter Glacier summer skiing resort
Hemsedal Skisenter ski resort