Ken Roberts - - Cross Country Skiing
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posted to rec.skiing.nordic
Subject: Norway XC skiing -- a visitor's impressions
I've been having fun sampling the skiing in Norway for a week,
so here's some impressions from an American which might help other visitors who
might want to try skiing there sometime.
I hope those with a deeper and more detailed knowledge will
correct my mistakes, and add some insights.
First, some places I skied:
Geilo -- Most different from American skiing. Access to
groomed, marked trails completely above tree-line, and also some pleasant
lower trails. Lots of snow.
Hemsedal -- Pretty good lift-served downhill skiing, in
addition to XC which included a 5 km of skating trails. I'd say the downhill
resort had advanced trails and tree skiing at least as good as the best
northeast US downhill resorts, and also some above tree-line and touring
access which count as superior variety -- bigger and more serious than lots
of other Norway resorts -- but not up there with the best of the Alps and
western North America. (Someone suggested that another resort called
Beitostolen might be a place to mix XC skiing with more "family-oriented"
lift-served downhill skiing-snowboarding).
Jotunheimen Park -- This is a famous park with the highest
mountains. I wanted to get in there for a day tour from Lom in the north.
But the access roads looked uninviting to my rental car, and the map I had
showed that you had to ski in a good ways just to get beyond the power
lines, so I settled for taking some photos from the main road. My sense it
that ski touring in there is a serious multi-day undertaking.
Oslo / Nordmark -- Good for lots of interesting trails
sheltered in the trees, easy metro train access (Frognerseteren station on
the metro "T-bane" #1 train line), significant amount of skating trails, and
seeing the Holmenkollen ski jump, stadium, ski museum. Snow quantity up
there was way better I could have imagined from downtown Oslo, but not as
much as other places further away. Definitely purchase the "Oslo Nordmark
vinter" map from a bookstore if you want to ski here.
Sjusjoen (near Lillehammer) -- Place where good XC skiing
is the main focus. Different from American skiing in that many trails are on
a high plateau with sparse little trees (but there's also some
tree-sheltered trails a little lower). Trails that go to other places: Like
one afternoon I skated to Hornsjo, Pellestova, and Nordseter and had hot
chocolate at each one. Like you can ski the Birkebeinerrennet trail down to
the 1994 Olympic XC ski and other events in Lillehammer, and take the bus
back to Sjusjoen. Higher percentage of skating trails than I found at the
other places. Big views to mountains all over Norway. Nice mix of
gentle-to-moderate hills and flat sections -- I liked that there were lots
of hills in the right steepness range for my Classic striding, but without
much herringbone. Sjusjoen held good-quality snow up high even while
everything was melting down in the valley.
Some other impressions:
Skiing and Living -- I was somehow thinking that skiing
might be more integrated with regular living in Norway -- like skiing to
work, or skiing to buy groceries. But it seems that most Norwegians get to
work by train, bus, car, bicycle. It looked to me like the point where
skiing is more integrated with life is at their weekend cabins up in the
Maps -- Although each ski region usually provides its own
trail map, I was glad I had bought detailed topo maps in Oslo (where some
bookstores to try are Norli, Quist, Tanum).
Language -- Norway is the most English-friendly European
skiing country I've found. I studied "Norwegian in 10 minutes a Day" on the
flight, and it was helpful background. But in the various places or
situations I was in, I never once had a reason to utter a single word of
Car rental -- Rather expensive compared to other European
skiing countries. Definitely not necessary, since Norway as a whole, and the
ski centers I visited, seemed to have reasonably good public transportation
network. I decided to rent a car, and I was glad for the flexibility it gave
me to visit several different places quickly. But I spent a lot of time
driving on curvy, snow-covered 2-lane roads with no shoulders. And once I
got away from Oslo, even the most major roads had realistic travel speeds
significantly lower than American roads of comparable significance, and were
more subject to closures ("stengt") and restrictions ("kolonne") due to snow
Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2002
Jay Tegeder wrote
Any mention of the Nordmarka Trails and the Holmenkollen deserves the following description: "Awesome! The Cradle of Skiing." It's one of the sacred places in the nordic world.
Glad you added that, since I'm not much into sacred-ness
I had lots of fun skiing there, and I think the overall range
of possibilities is really amazing. But I didn't think the detailed design of
any particular trail was better than Mont-Sainte-Anne, Craftsbury, or Mt Van
Hoevenberg. (But I didn't ski most of the 3 x 16.7 Holmenkolen 50K trail.)
And in none of the places I skied in Norway did I find anything
that measured up to the best of Sovereign Lakes in Vernon, BC, Canada for
amazingly interesting track skiing.
Maybe the Sovereign Lakes trail designers visited Nordmarka and
then worked on how to "top" it. Maybe it's time for some Norwegian trail
maintainers to visit Vernon and ski Montezuma / Revenge and then go back and top
that -- and prove that Norway can design the new coolest "fun" track in the
Or is the most interesting fun track somewhere in Austria?
Date: Thursday, March 14, 2002
I enjoyed savoring the details of your trip.
This is not a "destination" ski area, but more a small rural
town on a lake and a center of recreational cabins where Norwegians go to relax and hike and ski in the mountains.
Yes, it seemed like in the areas I sampled, lots of the
"places" I skied to turned out to be mostly clusters of cabins.
The Easter holiday is a big time in Norway for going to the cabin to ski. I think it might be THE time to go to the cabin and ski.
Often I try to plan ski trips to avoid crowds, but I think for
a cross-country skiing visit to Norway I think you're right that the idea is to
seek for lots of other skiers and enjoy being around them. I think the very
special thing about Norway is the Norwegians.
I noticed that when I was out touring mid-week in the second
week of March, the cabins were mostly vacant. My sense is that flashy
architecture is not a major part of Norwegian culture, so seeing the cabins
without the skiers was not the most interesting way to do the tour.
It wouldn't surprise me if people were saving up their mid-week
days off for Easter week. Perhaps I would have seen more people out skiing
mid-week if I'd arrived a couple of weeks sooner.
Of course there's going to lots more folks out skiing on the
weekend. So I'd say it's worth trying to schedule the dates of a XC ski vacation
to get a full weekend in an area with cabins. (Unfortunately the way a vacation
week from a job usually goes, you end up losing weekend days to travel and
organization -- and Oslo gets few non-stop flights from North America).
The main concern I'd have about Easter is that by then there
would be a lot less lower-elevation skiing would remain -- so you might be doing
all your skiing up on the high plateaus with few or no trees. I think I'd
prefer to be able to choose to ski down in the trees some days -- especially
when it's windy.
posted to rec.skiing.nordic
Subject: Re: Going to Salt Lake City ...
As a long-time Utah ski visitor, here's some thoughts:
most of Salt Lake City is different variations on "sprawl"
-- so if you have to choose, I'd suggest the downtown area at night.
Utah has the most spectacular cross-country skiing
in the world, but it's not around SLC. It's the Fairyland trail at Bryce
Canyon. Only in good snow conditions, and for expert skiers with backcountry
touring experience. (Not far out of you way, coming from LA). [
southeastern Utah is wonderful for hiking in the winter,
with rock formations unique in the world. Sharon and I often drive down
south when the snow in the Wasatch is bad. And the drive from Spanish Fork
to Moab has a long desolate section which should be special for European
I think for European visitors, perhaps the most "different"
thing is the emptiness of the desert. Perhaps just drive West from the city
toward Nevada and try wandering around a bit.
Skiing near Salt Lake City:
I think the Wasatch backcountry skiing is way better than
the groomed tracks. But for that you need to be able to handle serious
avalanche danger, have good downhill technique. And the skiing can be slow,
since often you have to travel through 30-50 cm of new powder snow. Good
maps and guidebooks are readily available in local cross-country ski shops.
if you've got solid downhill technique and snow conditions
are not icy, one unusual way to get to a pretty place on cross-country skis
is try drive up to the top of the Little Cottonwood Canyon road to Alta, buy
a half-day lift ticket, and ski the Albion and Cecret areas. Once you're
there at Alta and look around, you might notice other interesting things you
want to do.
groomed tracks around Salt Lake City (see
If the snow is good, Mountain Dell offers golf course
skiing that doesn't feel like golf course skiing, once you get used to
ignoring the sound of the cars on Interstate 80. I think it was the site of
both Belmondo's and Daehlie's first World Cup victories.
At the White Pine nordic center in Park City, head for the
"Farm" area. The rest of the center is golf course skiing which does
feel like golf course skiing -- but if someone in your party needs flat
terrain, that's it.
for a hill workout, there's Mill Creek Canyon starting
right at the east end of a SLC street (3800 South). Or Solitude Nordic
center (finish your day with a 150 vertical meter climb).
Soldier Hollow is the biggest and most interesting center.
Happens to be the farthest from SLC (but closer to Provo), and they forgot
to include any flat terrain. But you'll have to wait to ski there until the
racers are done using it.