I’ve just returned from Senja, Norway’s second largest island for a few days ski touring from Hamn i Senja
, located amidst a beautiful archipelago on the west coast of the island. At a latitude of 69 degrees north, Senja is known as “the fairytale island” (it’s home to the world’s largest troll) with summit to sea skiing all around the island, and of course the fjords and and stunning views across the Arctic ocean. Whilst it attracts tourists for all sorts of activities from fishing, whale spotting, snowshoeing and of course the Northern Lights, (Senja is right under the main Aurora-belt), it doesn’t get so many skiers – there are no lifts and everything has to be done the old fashioned way. So when I was invited by Polygiene
to join them for a few days ski touring I jumped at the chance. Having spent a quiet autumn recovering from a broken wrist and Achilles problems, I was keen to get my fitness back and have some amazing skiing.
The four day trip was organised by Pure Ski Touring
, who run holidays in all sorts of adventurous destinations, from Canada, Switzerland, Iceland, northern Norway and Lapland. Vertical meters, snow conditions and nature are what they look out for when picking a location, and Senja ticks all those boxes.
All their trips are led by UIAGM mountain guides and they only go to a destination once a year. In Senja, usually the best time to visit is February to May. By mid February the polar nights have been already replaced with 7 hours of sunshine by mid May it’s the midnight sun.
…and the skiing did not fail to disappoint. To get anywhere you have to go by car. The guides drove us each morning to a location they’d selected after checking the weather reports. With average summit heights are around 700-1000 meter (the Breitind being the highest at 1017 above sea level) there was also the benefit of not having to suffer from altitude sickness, and once you’d skinned up, summited and skied back down through untracked, stable and beautifully consistent snow, you have time to do another lap…finishing through perfectly spaced trees, back down to sea level.
Our base at Hamn i Senja was ideal as once we’d returned, heavy legged, we could head straight for the sauna, have a beer in a boat that’s been converted into a hot tub, and jump into the freezing ocean if you’re that way inclined! Then a dinner of local cod or salmon and you’re just about ready for bed! If you need a rest day they can take you out fishing on one of their fishing boats, or there is also scuba diving to be had if you’re brave.
The purpose of the trip was to try out a new product called Polygiene, which is made from a silver salt that repels smells in clothes by preventing the growth of bacteria. And ski touring is definitely the sport to put it through its paces as it gets you very hot and sweaty, even if the temperatures are below zero! I managed to wear my socks, helmet and baselayers for the whole 4 days without needing to wash them.
Apart from reducing the stink, the other benefits of Polygiene impregnated fabrics are that they minimise your environmental footprint by enabling you to wash your clothes less. This also extends the life of the garment, saving you time and money. Polygiene estimate by saving one load of washing a week, you will have gained three days of free time. Perfect for fitting in more ski touring!
By plane: SAS and Norwegian have numerous flights to Tromsø (TOS) from Oslo Airport (OSL). The flight time is 1 hour and 55 minutes. Norwegian offers a direct flight from Oslo (OSL) to Bardufoss (BDU) with a flight time of 1 hour and 50 minutes.