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The big attraction for my friend and I as we planned our trip using miles and points to go to snowy Norway was snow skiing. We both love to ski, but had never skied together, and had certainly never skied in Norway. We both expected that skiing outside of North America would be a little bit different than we were used to, but we were ready for the adventure. What we found was that it was indeed a bit different, but enough the same to be relatively comfortable. Keep reading for more details as well as for links to the rest of our Norwegian Adventure!
Skiing in Norway (this post)
Radisson Blu Oslo Airport
Lufthansa First Class A380 Frankfurt – Houston
Lift Ticket and Ski Rental Prices:
We skied at the Trysil Ski Resort which is a 2-3 hour bus ride from Oslo and found the lift ticket prices to be much less expensive than the big resorts in North America like Vail, Aspen, Whistler, or Breckenridge. They have many different ticket options, and children 0 – 6 years of age ski for free when using a helmet. Their listed one-day ticket price for adults is roughly $65 USD for the day The per day price is lower if you buy a multi-day ticket, a half day ticket, a night skiing ticket, a youth or senior ticket, etc. Do keep in mind that the ski day is shorter here than some other places due to the times the sun rises and sets. For example, in January the lifts are open from 9AM – 3:30PM (longer on night ski days). We bought our lift tickets when we arrived, so I’m not sure if there are discounted options available somewhere that we were not aware of.
We got our ski rental gear from a rental shop (shown below) that was located very near the base of the mountain. If you are looking up a the mountain it was to the left in the pedestrian shopping area. To rent boots, poles, skis, and a helmet for three days it came to about $120 USD. I didn’t find the quality of the gear to be quite as good as I often get in the US, but it still worked fine. Keep in mind that they will be asking for your height/weight to fit you for your skis in the metric system, and not in pounds and inches, so be prepared.
Skiing in Norway looked like you were skiing in the movie “Frozen”. It was a very surreal experience when you would stop and look around.
Despite looking like you were skiing in the movie Frozen, it actually wasn’t that cold at all during our early February trip. We were likely there on some warmer than normal days, but it was hovering just below freezing on much of the mountain. It was a bit colder at the top, so the lifts made you a tad chilly, but it wasn’t near as cold as I would have guessed.
Differences Skiing in Norway from North America:
There were some noticeable differences from the mountains I was used to in North America to this resort in Norway. First, there were far fewer resort employees everywhere than I often see at major resorts. At some Colorado resorts, you can’t turn left or right without seeing ski instructors, lift operators, ski patrol, greeters, people who help you with gear, cookie and hot chocolate people, etc. However, at Trysil there would usually (but not always) be someone at the base of the lift, but otherwise I didn’t really ever see resort employees anywhere. If you needed help or had a question, you may be on your own for a while until you could find someone official to help you. The same was true with maps of the mountain – there were far fewer of them on the mountain than I was used to. You better have one in your pocket, otherwise you may not see one posted as often as you might hope.
A negative side-effect of fewer employees is more misbehaving people. There was lots of cutting in lift lines, and I rode up lifts with several teenagers who would spit and knock snow onto those skiing below us. I’m sure that happens in North America, but it was happening much more than I was used to in Norway. I wish I spoke Norwegian as I would have chewed them a new one, but as it was I could just give them evil stares.
There is also an increased reliance on t-bars to get you up the mountains over the resorts I frequent. Again, these are used in North America, but they are used much more extensively on major runs at this resort. I don’t particularly like t-bars so this was an adjustment for me.
The lift lines were also longer here than they often are in North America. My guess is this is due to having fewer things like high speed large lifts or gondolas. The lines weren’t terrible, but they were longer than we were used to (and the line cutting didn’t help to speed things up for those trying to follow the rules).
The signs on the runs are also smaller than we were used to, so we missed a turn off once or twice. The runs are marked, but you need to be paying attention as sometimes the signs are quite short and/or covered in snow. They also utilize numbers instead of naming the runs, which was probably to our advantage since I’m betting the names of the runs would have been tough for us to pronounce or remember in Norwegian.
We found that the runs in general were more intermediate than advanced or true beginner. There seemed to be very few super easy runs and very few super hard runs, but most were in between. Many of the runs also seemed to be smaller and more narrow trails as opposed to wide open runs. There were tons and tons of alpine trails through the trees, so if that is your thing, this will be your paradise.
Instead of having just green, blue, and black runs, they also have red runs. Red runs are between green and blue in difficult level, at least in theory. I found that green, red, and blue runs were all pretty similar here. It really is very good terrain for a beginner/intermediate skier. The black runs here were certainly no harder than a blue run at Whistler, and likely a bit easier in some cases. They did have a terrain park for those that are more advanced.
Another big difference from the resorts I am used to in North America was the shortage of on-mountain food options. There is food on the mountain, but you have to eat on picnic benches (which would be miserable on cold days), and the food is often limited to things like hot dogs, candy bars, and hamburgers. There are warming huts you can stand in, but again that didn’t look very fun. This set-up worked fine for us as it wasn’t that cold when we skied, but it was an interesting difference. It does mean you aren’t spending a ton on food since the options are pretty spartan!
If that doesn’t look like a fun lunch option, I did eat at a pretty decent sushi bar called “Happy Faces” at the base of the mountain one day. The menu was quite limited (lots of salmon options), but it wasn’t too expensive and it tasted pretty good.
If you would rather just throw some granola bars in your pocket, there is a grocery store that was located between the Radisson Blu Trysil and the mountain (2 minute walk from the hotel).
Overall it seemed that skiing in Norway requires you to be a bit tougher and more self-reliant than in places like Colorado as there aren’t as many people to assist, or handy conveniences like on-mountain restaurants and high speed lifts. I also didn’t notice near as many children in ski school, as most were simply skiing with their families. There were far more skiers than snowboarders, and far fewer truly beginner skiers. The terrain was pretty easy for the most part, but as I mentioned it is likely best suited for those who are in the beginner to intermediate stages (though not those on their very first trip). Those brand new or pretty advanced may not have their desires met quite as well as those with skills somewhere in between.
It did seem to be a very family friendly resort, but just go into it with different expectations than the big resorts in North America. It was a truly gorgeous winter wonderland that I am so glad we visited and skied. The prices for lift tickets were quite reasonable, and I would go back in the future with my family. That said, it did make me appreciate many of the things the big North American resorts have done to make skiing not only fun, but easy and convenient.
Have you skied at Trysil or other resorts in Norway? What was your experience?