Fjords, ski fields, frozen lakes and time to find yourself… This is the beauty of
Norway, but I’d never experienced it quite like this before!
Book the Freeride the Fjords trip and you’ll take in skiing at Myrkdalen, on- or off-piste, a boat cruise on the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Nærøyfjord, a trip on Norway’s famous Flåm Railway and then more off-piste heaven at Vatnahalsen. It’s adventure a-plenty.
Wedged comfortably into the window seat of a chugging, cosy train, I had all this to come. I was excited — and in awe, marveling at the incredible views before me. Trees bearded the snow-covered mountains, grooming my eyes upwards to powder blue skies.
The tangled woodland gave way to rushing waters, pushing onwards — nature’s power force to fill the fjords, leaving me with a sense of wonder at the natural order of it all.
We were heading for Myrkdalen, Western Norway’s largest ski resort. It’s just two hours from Bergen, but feels a welcoming million miles away. This small resort enjoys a long season – from mid-November to May — and gets 18-24 meters of snow each winter, but no crowds!
The pistes are wide (22 slopes for all abilities), there’s a designated children’s ski area, groomed cross-country slopes, terrain parks, ski-cross slopes, plus great off-piste terrain. We stayed at the Myrkdalen Hotel, a modern, comfortable place, with ski-in, ski-out, two children’s play areas and three restaurants, (using locally sourced food). We tried the lot!
Restaurant Nuten is the main a-la-carte, family friendly option. Restaurant Nuten Fondue serves a fine fondue, and Restaurant Tunet offers tasty pizzas and pastas. We also spent fun time in the Pudder (Powder) Afterski Bar, the season’s Saturday hot spot.
Next, we went cruising along the Nærøyfjord — a 17-km narrow stretch of ink-black water rated the most dramatic fjord trip in Europe. Boarding the boat at the tiny village of Gudvangen felt like a big adventure — two ski trips with a ‘mini-break’ in the middle — and Mother Nature was about to put herself in the spotlight. Think snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, swooping birds and picture-perfect farmsteads and you’ll get the picture. No wonder Disney used the place as an inspiration for the hit movie Frozen!
Our cruise ended at Flåm, but our adventure wasn’t over yet: we still had the Flåm Railway to ‘wow’ over.
The Flåm Railway
Flåm is remote, situated at the innermost part of the Sognefjord, and it was here we boarded another of Norway’s leading tourist attractions. The Flåm Railway takes you from here up to the high mountain station at Myrdal — and it’s a 20km helter skelter of natures’ finest.
Winding up around mountains and past rushing waterfalls, it’s a glimpse of a frozen haven as you climb through narrow gorges to the snowfields at the top. Our group was the only one to step off the train at Vatnahalsen, and it felt like our adventure had really begun!
The Vatnahalsen Høyfjellshotell is right by the railway stop, overlooking Aurlandsfjord and the Flåmsdalen mountains, and just a short ski, or hike, to frozen Lake Reinungavatnet. This is scenery that makes your head swoon, and my more advanced ski pals were all up for ski touring up the Tavern Mountains (1700 meters above sea level).
I thought I’d take a gentler option – a snowshoe round the lake. Four hours later, and the other side of a remote mountain, I realised ski touring might have been the way forward. But would I have swapped my time out alone with nature? Not likely, despite the aching legs. A good hot sauna welcomed me back to base, and made me appreciate how well the Høyfjellshotell caters for us ‘ice heads’.
The clean, simply decorated bedrooms give a real sense of calm, while the fine, freshly-prepared food sets you up for the day ahead. This is served in a traditional restaurant, and there’s a bar and lounge for those post-tour catch-ups with friends and the friendly, helpful host.
Hiking, fishing and hunting have been enjoyed here since 1896, when Norwegians and Europeans first visited. Now, it’s your turn.
Today’s ski-touring guests are accompanied by certified mountain guides (UIAGM), so there’s no chance anyone will get lost in the mountains — unless, they want to!
Freeride the Fjords
You can also stay at this converted farmhouse, bookable through the Myrkdalen Hotel:
Check out the resort’s YouTube channel to find out more: