Finnmarksvidda, the Finnmark plateau, is a gently rolling landscape with solid snow cover from November to May. There are not many prepared runs, but the area offers perfect conditions for anyone who wants to experience skiing through pristine wilderness. Liv Engholm and Thomas S. Nilsen from the activity firm Turgleder AS in Karasjok spend the winter organising long and short ski trips in this snowy skiing paradise.
A 9-day trip in the Easter sunshine
In April, when the sun is warm during the day but the night-time frosts still provide crisp skiing conditions, Liv and Thomas invite skiers to cross the Finnmark plateau from Alta to Karasjok as part of a nine-day trip, seven days of which are on skis. A week on the plain may sound like a long time for the normal Sunday skier, but this is really not an extreme trip. The daily runs are around 15 kilometres, so the stretches are not particularly intimidating. Everyone joins in with setting up the camp, packing up and cooking. The nights are spent in tents or cabins in the mountains, and dogs are used to draw the equipment.
A whistle-stop skiing course
As the nine-day trip does not cover particularly large distances, it is also fine for people from countries that traditionally have poor skiing conditions, such as the Netherlands and South Africa. It is all a question of attitude — if you are used to being outdoors and active, you can easily get used to the snow and skiing. If you've never skied before, it's worth taking a beginner's course in Karasjok first. The course covers basic techniques and balance on a level area, before participants move on to the slopes. You can learn the basics in just four hours.
An extreme trip in February
February is when the winter temperatures on the Finnmark plateau reach their lowest point, and the days are still pretty short at this time of year. February is when Turgleder invites skiers to join an extreme trip that lasts a total of 17 days, with the trip itself taking 12–14 days. The trip starts at Hatter, the mountain pass between Skaidi and the Porsanger fjord, and continues south through the Stabbursdalen national park and over the Finnmark plateau to Karasjok. The group sleeps in tents, with night-time temperatures reaching as low as -40C. Everyone is expected to join in with setting up the camp and cooking. The route has been chosen with the aim of bypassing all the snowmobile trails, and some sections of the terrain are very challenging.
In terms of difficulty, the extreme trip can be compared to crossing Greenland. The landscape of the Finnmark plateau is actually more challenging than the flat ice of central Greenland, so you can really test yourself. Some skiers even use this trip to train for crossing Greenland. Participants on this trip must be used to the outdoor life, have done a lot of skiing and have slept in a tent before.
On request, Turgleder can also arrange day trips for guests who are based in Karasjok. These trips take you skiing in the countryside surrounding Karasjok. The programme is tailored to guest requirements: Some people are very used to outdoor pursuits and love to have a long day's skiing, but the day trips are also an excellent opportunity for those who are not so used to outdoor life to take a skiing trip through untouched nature. Lunch is served around a roaring camp-fire and hot drinks are, of course, included.
Details of Turgleder's summer and winter programmes are available on the company's website.www.turgleder.com