The wind blowing in our face is getting stronger and stronger the snow starts to fall again, our progression in the powder snow is getting slower. Off the beaten slopes, I am ecstatic: I am getting my own mini feel for a polar expedition. We are ski touring on the swedish fjall, these old middle mountains with huge plateaux covered in snow, miles away from any living soul (or at least from what we can tell). It is our first time of ski touring but the guy at the ski shop promised it… we will be just fine. How hard can it be?
What is ski touring?
This is the ski type used for the expeditions! Touring ski is a ski of exploration, and the discipline is probably closer to hiking than to downhill skiing, both by its spirits and its moves. You understand my excitement to try to it out :-).
There are different forms of ski touring and as we were spending a week in swedish ski station Are, it is the nordic ski touring type we tried. The skis are somehow similar to cross country classic skis, just a bit larger and with grip under, which makes uphill walking possible. The boots, similar to snow shoes are fixed to the skis by the front. This allows you to imitate walking, which makes it easier for beginners -not that this as ever proven be useful on steep downhills… 😉
In other sub-disciplines, you may have the possibility to fix the boots also at the heel, to enable better control other downhills.
First time ski touring in Are, Sweden
Ski touring is possible in many mountain stations, and it is during ski vacation in Åre (Sweden) that I decided to give it a try. Information about ski touring is usually quite limited, you will find some tracks suggestions but evaluating their difficulty was not easy. We opted for one that gave us the possibility to take a short cut, a safe plan in case of bad weather or unexpected event.
We get off the lift and turn left from the ski track. The laughs from the skiers become distant. We only see a couple of scooters in the distance. The rest is immensity of snow and silence. We are From that moment until the rest of the day we will only meet one skier. We follow the signs, most of the time making our own tracks in the powder snow.
For lunch we stop in a tiny chalet. It is half full of snow but still provides a nice shelter from the wind. We eat our sandwiches and drink tea. After the short break we get back on the skis, the second part is more challenging. We now have to get down the valley, a 500m descent. Even if the track is adapted to ski touring we don’t master perfectly the technique….yet. Thankfully for my ass, the powder snow absorb shocks quite well!
Little Big Explorations’ verdict:
It was awesome! Who could have known that you can get a feeling of adventure in one of Sweden’s most popular ski station? Get off the crowds and explore the mountains with a full body activity. It is a fun activity that I would definitely recommended for those with some knowledge of alpine and/or cross country skiing and the ones who love hiking.
What I would change: For a first try, the track we choose was a bit (too) ambitious! The last third of the trek -a descent going through a denser and denser forest in powder snow- was tough for us who have never done off piste! And next time we may want to join a group to learn a bit more about the technics and enjoy more the descent.
Make it happen – Try ski touring
Ski touring can be practised in many mountain areas, either in a group or on your own if you have enough experience.
Ski touring in Are, Sweden – 14km loop from Rödkullen to Duved – Mullfjället runt
- We bought a day ski pass for the lift (65 SEK) and rented touring skis, boots and poles (200 SEK a day).
- We did a 14km loop from Rödkullen to Duved – Mullfjället runt. Take the bus to Rödkullen and from there get the lift A19 (Ullådalsliften 2). At the top, you will get off the slopes, and follow the snow scooter trails all the way down until Duved (get a map!).
- The Duved – Ulladalen tour, starting with the chairlift from Duved, offers a trail with less elevation variation – and less risk to fall of your ass dozen of times…
- Like always in mountains, be careful. Check if the trail is open as well as the weather conditions, be aware of avalanche risks and talk to the locals to check what they recommend. Don’t go alone. Don’t get off the trail.
- Bring food and warm drinks, a map and a compass, a headlamp and a first help kit (for polar explorations you are more likely to use a sled/pulk but for a day of fun a small backpack should be enough!). And… have fun!
- Beginners: ask for a relatively flat trail!
Would you try ski touring? Share your comments below.