[related_articles] Our backcountry expert Andy Malton from thegemsstock is back with another article, this time running down through his top 10 favourite Scandinavian spots to shred.
Often completely overlooked by snowboarders who flock to the Alps en masse, Scandinavia is in fact a really cool place to spend a snowboarding holiday. Yea the beer is expensive, but think about the positives – the parks are well kept and the powder is often deep, plus the people are super friendly and the scenery is awesome.
The parks are well kept and the powder is often deep
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Hemsedal is a great all round snowboarding resort with tree runs, endless backcountry, and excellent parks. It’s also has a good piste network served by fast and comfortable lifts that makes it the perfect place for some easy cruising with mates.
There are cabins and apartments at the base of the lifts along with some accommodation in the town of Hemsedal itself a mile or so down the road. Hemsedal is famous for hosting some legendary spring sessions and is where Mads Jonsson hit one of the biggest kickers in history back in 2005.
Riksgransen must be in the running for the title of world’s most remote resort. It’s certainly the world’s most northerly. Sat by the side of a train line running through the immensely beautiful Swedish Arctic wilderness, Riksgransen is basically just a couple of hotels and a handful of lifts. Those lifts access some perfect snowboarding terrain though.
You can basically ride anywhere and an abundance of wind lips and rollers are perfect for honing your freestyle skills on natural terrain. Après is spent nailing reindeer burgers and drinking beer in the sun that, from May onwards, never really sets. The resort even opens during the summer solstice for some midnight shredding. How cool is that?!
Somebody once said that riding in Åre is akin to shredding in IKEA. Despite the identikit vibe in town, the place does, however, have a lot to offer the average snowboarder...
The pistes are spread out across the main peak that overlooks a huge lake which means that Åre definitely doesn’t feel like your typical Alpine destination. Åre is perfectly suited to the intermediate shredder who wants to cruise the pistes and occasionally hit up the park and powder.
Over the Norwegian/Swedish border from Riksgransen, Narvik is a coastal town that has a mountain that’s great for freeriders. The main lift ascends out of the fairly big town into a world of big fjord views and multiple backcountry bowls accessible with just a short hike. Narvik is also well placed to spend a few days before heading up to the Lofoten Islands or Lyngen for splitboard adventures.
Stranda is situated right in the middle of Norway’s most famous fjords. The mountains rise straight out of the sea in the this part of the world and the scenery is justifiably world famous.
Stranda is a secret gem of a mountain with just a few lifts that access some incredible big mountain terrain along with some amazing backcountry. This is the place to go to find fresh tracks in deep pow with no one else around.
Often seen as more of a family resort, Geilo is also a great place for the beginner or intermediate snowboarder to gain confidence on wide pistes and relaxed terrain.
It’s also the perfect place for anyone out to improve their park riding though as the freestyle facilities are top notch – as is often the case in Scandinavia. The resort has 5 parks spread over two mountains along with a very reliable snow record and great views all round.
Levi is the only resort in this list that’s situated in Finland. It always seems to get snow super early in the winter, probably because it’s way inside the Arctic Circle. The mountain is in fact more of a hill really, but there are some really fun runs among the trees and the natural half pipe on the run down to the base is legendary.
In mid winter it gets dark in Levi very early which is when something pretty awesome happens; all over the hill flood lights are turned on and the lifts keep turning until 9pm. Cruising around under the floodlights as ice crystals freeze to your face in the -30 degree air before heading back to the log cabin for a sauna is a pretty memorable experience.
Voss is another Norwegian all rounder on the west coast close to Bergen. The mountain has a fairly extensive network of lifts and pistes and a good park with a half pipe and boardercross. Generally the snow conditions on Voss are usually pretty good. Being close to the coast it can rain on the lower slopes but the wet climate becomes your friend when temperatures drop – during cold winters it can snow like crazy here.
Yea, you can go riding in Oslo. Don’t expect any cliffs to huck or spines to slash but if you’re spending time in one of Europe’s cooler cities during the winter, you can hit one of the biggest parks in Scandinavia at Oslo Winter Park. It’s also home to an Olympic size half pipe and a multitude of pistes that are great to razz around on before heading back into the city for the evening.
Roldal claims to be Europe’s snowiest resort. There might be something in that claim as it regularly gets pounded with obscene amounts of snow. Roldal is a mountain that’s going to appeal more to the freerider than freestyler, though as ever with Norwegian resorts, the awesome natural terrain here is something that all snowboarders will appreciate.