"Ski when you can, where you can!"
This is one of my favorite sayings I picked up after hanging
out with the California skiing community. So, when I decided
to go back for some days to my country of origin, my first priority
was to gather as many willing souls as possible and head out
for some summer skiing in a country that offers skiing all year
around. Even though Norwegians love to ski, the whole idea of
skiing in the middle of the summer still seems a little off for
most people. So what do you do to convince your friends? Try
Ill buy the first beer. From there on, you
will probably only have logistical problems getting it all together.
They will be convinced.
Stryn Summer Skiing, A Good Place To Be
Stryn Summer Ski Center feeds off the snow
from the famous Jostedalsbreen Glacier. Jostedalsbreen, with
its surrounding tributaries, is the largest glacier on the European
continent. It is 315 square miles in area, 60 miles long, 15
miles wide and at its highest point is 6700' feet above sea level
. The glacial tributary where the ski center has its lift operations
is called Tystigen. On a map
look for Bergen and Aalesund on the West Coast of Norway, Stryn
is located between these two places.
Stryn has become very popular in Scandinavia
over the last few years. It is open from the beginning of June
to the end of August. Finns and Swedes are as common as Norwegians.
In addition, youll meet skiers from other parts of the
world. Stryn offers many more activities then just skiing. Cross-country
trails are maintained daily. Guided trips on the glaciers are
also popular. There is an information center in the village to
help with whatever you want to know about the region and its
The main ski lift, a two-seated
chair that takes you to the top lift. Before breakfast we went
for a swim in the river!
Enjoying life to the max!
We arrived early in the morning on a Sunday
to avoid the weekend crowd. Stryn can get pretty busy on weekends,
especially if the weather has decided to cooperate. This was
Taks first real experience with the land of waterfalls
and tunnels, as he nick-named the country. You have probably
figured out that we drove through a lot of tunnels to get to
Stryn, so if you get claustrophobic in tunnels, heli-skiing would
be a better choice for you. Then again, heli-skiing is banned
in Norway, and that was even before we had helicopters. The Norwegian
Parliament supports the working for your turns ethic!
Our group of tele-heads had set aside three
days to enjoy skiing Stryn. In Norway, telemark skiers dominate
the ski area, and in Stryn I had problems locating alpine skiers.
Here, when you go to lunch and leave your skis, you are suddenly
confronted with the same problem as our alpine friends at ski-resorts
outside of Scandanavia have, there are at least three or four
pairs of identicle skis with telemark bindings laying around.
Telemark is definately not a unique sport here. Due to the popularity
of telemark skiing you are just one of the crowd. The Scandinavians
know how to ski, but I think the British Columbian way (Tak,
who now lives in California) definately turned some heads in
the Stryn crowd.
Tak, enjoying the strength of the U.S. Dollar
Mark (Tak) has appeared in picture pictures
on the telemarktips.com E-Magazine, so he is probably
familiar to many of you (ed.note: that was Tak on the
cover airing at Mammoth a few weeks ago). He was originally
going to Finland, Sweden and Iceland, but was easily talked into
a stop in Norway. Lars, Endre and Tor are all settled Norwegians.
Lars has completed his army service and is ready to start practicing
law for a firm in Oslo. Tor is an independant type guy who will
never give up the dream of becoming successful with internet
and software start-ups in Norway. Endre is busy bringing a family
business to the next level with a dedication and enthusiasm that
makes him much admired by all of his friends. This year Endre
decided to get more serious about telemark skiing too, and he
is picking the sport up fast.
Left: Endre willing his skis to turn! Right:
The group having a good time in the fog!
Skiing bumps and ungroomed runs like Stryn's
in summer when the temperature fluctuates wildly during the day
is not easy. However, who can complain when you have an estimated
2000 to 2500 feet of vertical skiing in an incredible setting?
It is an incredible setting that is if you happen to be there
on a day when you can see anything! On a clear day from the top
of the lift, you can see all this: more of the glacier and the
surrounding mountains with snow scattered around, green valleys
ending in glittering fjords set between steep mountains where
waterfalls drops several hundred feet before they meet the ocean.
For us, since no sacrifices had been made
to any ancient or current weather Gods, we ended up with what
we deserved. As the pictures tell you, we had fog, fog, fog and
snow! However, I heard no complaints, we were skiing at the end
of June and there was blue sky behind all that fog. At least
I heard no complaints until the boys saw the postcards at the
Stryn Summer Ski Center, where bikini dressed telebabes appeared
surrounded by blue sky! Suddenly there were some Norwegian and
English words of discontent thrown at the weather Gods.
The three day weather report for most of June:
Fog, fog, fog and a dash of snow!
The weather never really cleared up for us. A Warren Miller crew
had the same problem when they were shooting in the area a couple
of years back, closer to Aalesund. We could have done as they
did, hang out and eat a lot of fish and drink beer or we could
just go ski. Since we did not need blue sky and we could take
pictures anyway, there was no holding us back because of the
weather. Even though we were surrounded by fog, we had visibility
good enough for our purposes.
The best day was the last day, we even got
some fresh snow. We also got in an unplanned form of avalanche
beacon practice. There were no skiers buried, only a cellular
phone that had decided to jump out of my open pocket. Since we
did not discover the phone was missing right away we thought
it was lost. Then someone came up with the idea to call the missing
phone's number and listen for the ring. We dialed the number
while we skied down the slope, and whoops there it was. So this
might be an alternative to expensive beacons, just use your cellular
phone! Make sure it is on though. (editors note: Jon is kidding
Lars is another great Norwegian skier, here he
is finally on some great skis, thats why he looks so good!
(editors note: Lars is on Jon's skis!)
Gear information without boxer type updates
For all you gear freaks (editors note:
like Jon!) that want to know what equipment we were riding,
read on. (I am not including our selection of boxers like Mitch
does on TeleVision since it will sound very suspect to do so
when on a trip with only guys). Tak was worried about being able
to get good rental equipment in Stryn. No worries, he got the
basic stuff lying around, which were some of the larger Dynastar
boards I have seen. (I think it was the Powertracs!). They were
mounted with risers and the Chili bindings and for boots he got
a pair of Crispi CX-2's. Tor skis with the T-1s and he
had some demo skis for testing, a pair of Swedish boards called
Ekstrem, mounted with the Skyhoys. He was not too happy with
the performance of these skis.
Lars rides the Nordica Next 9.0 with the Chilis
and he like them very much. He is still using some old Crispi
leather/plastic boots with buckles, which he is looking to replace
next season. Do I see Garmont Squadras or Triple-G in his future?
I got to try his Nordica Next 9.0's, and oh boy do they turn
easily. They have more side cut then my X-Screams. However, they
were too short for me and I felt I had less stability with them
then with my Yellow Ferraris, the X-Screams.
Endre brought new Scarpa T1s and the
Salomon X-Free 9 with the Chilis. He likes the skis, but felt
that the boots were a bit stiff. They will probably work better
for him as he gets them broken in. I skied my X-Screams (the
X-Screams are very popular skis in Stryn) last seasons Skyhoys
(quite a few folks over there were using the Skyhoy binding too)
and Garmont Gara boots.
In Stryn, fat boards, big boots and monster
risers are everywhere.
To throw some gasoline onto the fire that
is the debate about using alpine skis for telemark , I hardly
saw telemark skis being used by anyone in the birthplace of telemark
skiing. It looks as though in the Scandinavian skiing community
there is no debate going on about the alpine versus telemark
boards. Some advice to any backcountry magazine looking to increase
its subscriptions in Scandinavia, dont spend time debating
this in your articles!
Tor is a telemark instructor who skis so smooth
and in control that he is a joy to watch, he was also one of
my best teachers in previous years.
Where is Stryn and how to get around?
If you think this is in the middle of nowhere,
you are absolutely right. It is not very well known and access
is not easy to . However, visiting nature seems to have become
a more popular activity among the citizens of the world, so youll
not drive or go alone in these areas anymore. Cruise ships and
sightseeing buses are more common then local farmers and fishermen.
Give yourself enough extra time if you are driving on the roads
surrounding Stryn, and in Norway over all. Norway is not blessed
with a lot of four lane freeways. When foreigners plan road trips
in Norway by looking at the map, it might not look too bad in
distance, but there is a reason this is the land of tunnels and
bridges. Getting around is not hard, but getting around fast,
well, that is a different story. The lack of more developed infrastructure
is maybe why Norway still holds such charm for visitors. Several
International Traveling Magazines have ranked this region as
one of the top places one should visit during a lifetime. Norway
is one of the few top destinations that derives its allure from
the wonders of nature and not some ancient historical ruins.
The Stryn village center is located an hours
drive from the glacier. Stryn is blessed with two separate ski
resorts, one for winter and one for summer skiing. In the winter
you cannot get to the Summer Ski Center. It is buried in snow.
This year they had so much snow they had to clear it away to
find the lift towers! The village has some restaurants, food
stores and a hotel. Most skiers that travel to Stryn prefer one
of the many campsites located in the valley. From the highest
camp it still takes you about 20 minutes to get to the ski resort.
Visitors have a choice of renting cottages or just renting a
campsite for a tent. You can either take your own car to the
ski area, or take one of the buses that run from the village,
stopping at all the campgrounds. In the summer there are a lot
of ski-festivals in Stryn, so there is no reason to be bored
here. When there are no schduled events, there are always one
or more groups of skiers that keep things hopping in the evenings.
So don't count on a lot of sleep when staying at these campgrounds.
Join the fun, and have a great time. We certainly did, skiing
and consuming only water of course, since we are serious skiers.
(editors note: RIIIGHT!)
Looking from the top of the lift
down to the valley. The snowboarders like to try to cross the
small pond on the left when it gets real hot!! Yeah right, like
that it ever gets that hot!
More to see on the West Coast of Norway
On our way home we took a tour to one of the
most famous fjords in Norway. We drove up one of the highest
accessible peaks by car to get a spectacular view of the landscape.
The viewpoint is called Dalsnibba, an hour Northeast of Stryn.
About 5000 feet above sea level, we were suppose to see 360 degrees.
We had six inches of snow, and a visibility of ten feet. However,
truckloads of tourists were going up and down from this viewpoint.
A friend of mine told me that they go skiing
from Dalsnibba. I think this would be a pretty radical thing
to do since it starts with a cliff!! However, there is probably
a way down somewhere, since he is alive to tell me about the
run. They drive up, put their ski gear on in while the tourists,
on their summer vacations, are busily taking pictures of fjords,
waterfalls and mountains! Some of these tourists have probably
hardly ever seen snow before and the skiers are jumping off the
cliff in their tele-gear. It sounds like it must be quite an
experience for all of them.
Further down the valley, getting closer to
the village of Geiranger, we got a clearer view of the fjord
with its rivers and waterfalls.
Geiranger is one of the destinations on a
drive called the Golden Route, a drive I reccommend
you take if you are in the area.
Right: Geiranger, worth a visit if you are
in these parts.
Summer Skiing Information
For more information about Stryn, check the
Stryn Website that
is available for viewing in Norwegian, English and Finish. Since
you are already reading this article on the web, I assume you
are familiar with search engines, so just use any of the named
places as key words to get more information on that particular
spot. For example if you enter "Stryn, Norway" you
will find all kind of information on campgrounds and accomodations.
There is also another Summer Ski Center in
Norway, closer to Oslo, located in Jotunheimen. It is smaller
and has shorter runs then Stryn. Youll be skiing next to
Galdhøpiggen, which is Norways highest peak. A suggested
trip while there is to ascend the peak. Since you will be crossing
a glacier, I would recommend. for purposes of safety. going with
the daily guided tours that are available for a small fee.
Summer skiing in Norway is a treat for any
telemark skier. The ski areas and the skiing culture in this,
the birthplace of the tele turn, is not to be missed by any avid
telemark skier looking for a new experience. Combine the skiing
with a tour of the incredibly beautiful scenery and you will
have a telemark ski trip to remember.
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