When the winter is fading away, and most skiing centers in Europe start packing their stuff, there are a couple destinations that become the perfect refuge for backcountry skiing lovers. North of Norway, and away from the crowds, Finnmark is one of those. Fred, IFMGA mountain guide, stays there every year from mid-March to mid-May, and receives week after week new groups of avid skiers, that inevitable return home plenty of stories, with the biggest smile on their face, and already thinking of going back for another ski trip.
‘Without doubt the best ski trip I’ve ever been on’, ‘by far the best guide that I have ever had’, ‘a dream for any backcountry skier’. We asked a couple of people who went this year ski touring in Finnmark with Fred, and praises liked these piled up one after the other. So which are the reasons why this trip is so great? Just to name a few: The location, away from the crowds and in a breathtaking landscape; the terrain, with endless possibilities for all level of skiers; the diversity of activities that can be combined with skiing; and the passion with which Fred shares a place he loves.
Finnmark is in the northeastern extreme of Norway, limiting with Finland to the south, Russia to the east, and the Barents Sea to the north. Based in the town of Langfjordbotn, one and a half hour drive from Alta airport, Fred’s ski trip takes place in between fjords that allow you to ski right from the summit and down to the sea. Away from the more crowded Lyngen Alps, Finnmark is a region that is still very wild, where every day you can find never ridden mountain faces. As Maxime, skier from Belgium, said: ‘A journey at the end of the world’. And for Gaelle and Fabrizio, also from Belgium, the scenery was so moving that they even had to stop for a while in the middle of a ski run because they were overwhelmed by emotion: ‘It’s not only about the great couloirs and snow, but also the infinite blue sky, the breathtaking fjords, and the endless slopes’.
And there are plenty of possibilities for skiing, to try different terrains every day, and for all kind of skiers. According to Fred, there is everything from low incline skiing to alpine summits. Charlotte, who went there last month with friends, highlighted: ‘The ski is of high quality. You have steep couloirs when going down some peaks, long powder slopes and skiing through the trees’. And Becky, from the UK, was also amazed: ‘Finnmark was a playground of uninterrupted backcountry skiing in truly unspoiled landscape, and Fred organized each day’s itinerary to best suit the snow and weather conditions, which ensured 6 full days of glorious sunshine and some of the best powder I have ever had the privilege to ski on!’
Fred is originally from France, but as many guides, he likes to move around looking for new adventures in remote places, to later share them with friends and clients. That’s how he discovered Finnmark, where he’s been organizing this ski trip since 2008. And during all these years he built a friendship with locals, which makes the trip very unique. He has their support for organizing the logistics, and everyone that goes enjoys the local feel that the experience has, like staying in a Norwegian comfortable and lovely family house on the edge of the fjord. ‘Everything is new, nothing is touristic and commercial’, pointed out Maxime.
Gauthier, ski fan and one of the co-founders of Explore-Share, persuaded some of his friends to join him to go there this year: ‘Skiing in Norway was an old dream of mine, but I wanted to experience and share this unique adventure (as I always do) with my friends, some, very good skiers, some having very few touring experience. I must say this ski trip exceeded by far my expectations’. And the whole group enjoyed very much Fred’s ‘explorer’ approach: ‘He is very generous, kind, relaxed, discreet, open minded, humble and super professional. He likes to explore new areas, where nobody skied before, and then share this region with others. You feel like an explorer when spending the day with him’. Similar opinion shared Quentin, also a Belgian skier, who not only liked the fact that Fred took him to mountains that had never been skied before, but also his positive attitude and friendliness: ‘After an intense day he is always open for a drink at home!’
Another aspect that everybody highlighted was the diversity of activities that they did. As Bénédicte, who was there some weeks ago, pointed out, it was much more than a ski trip. The long days in northern latitudes allow to do some fishing, biking or dogsledding after skiing, without having to rush from one place to the other. Or even to paddle in the fjord to reach some of the skiing spots. According to Ashley, ‘the best of the best was to cross the fjord with our skis in the kayak. This was the thing I had dreamed about for long time and I have been really amazed by the experience’.
So skiing all the way down from the summit to the sea, with a beautiful fjord landscape as backdrop in a remote corner of Norway, with almost no one around but a couple of your friends and a great guide like Fred seems like a pretty awesome trip, right? And the experience and feedback from the people who went there this year proves it. For Bénédicte, it was a week during which she felt living at 150%. And Gaelle and Fabrizio, who even shouted of joy in the middle of Finnmark Mountains, now admit: ‘The ski touring virus caught us. We realize that the world just got larger. Next year, we will go on a ski trip to Sweden or Japan, of course, after checking and discussing with the Explore-Share’s team’.
Discover more about Finnmark with these pictures: