Unleashing Myrkdalen, Norway's Powder Weekender
While Scandinavian resorts boast excellent snow conditions throughout a long season, they generally don't receive quite the amount of snow that North American resorts are known for. All except for one...
Tucked away in the famous fjords region of Norway is the resort of Myrkdalen. Just two hours from Bergen Airport, it’s the perfect weekend destination for a range of skiers, with plenty of easy-going terrain as well as a paradise for those after off-piste and touring terrain.
We wanted to see if it was possible to capture the kind of snowfall North America would be proud of, but on the doorstep of the U.K for just a weekend. So Kevin, Tara and I took to the skies and went to find out what Myrkdalen had to offer.
Norway has the world’s eighth longest coastline and the views from the plane on landing were just a hint of the stunning scenery that was to follow. The airport was next to lakes and pine forests and you truly feel as though you are entering one of the most stunning landscapes on the planet.
The transfer route follows that of the Oslo to Bergen Railway through some of the most impressive natural landscapes in the world. The fjords create steep valleys with incredible waterfalls and really give you a sense of amazement.
What makes this transfer unique is how the glaciers have formed valleys and filled with seawater, creating a path that cuts right through the mountains.
Vast and Varied Terrain
The terrain was unexpectedly expansive. It reminded Tara and Kevin very much of Sunshine Village, Banff. Wide, cruising, curving runs surrounded by rolling mountains. The well-groomed runs are sandwiched between deep, light fresh "pudder" (powder).
The groomed pistes are the best we’ve seen for a long time, with perfect snow and not an inch of ice in sight, and are groomed every day whether there are 50 people on the mountain in the week or 5,000 at the weekend.
As a place to learn to ski, it’s top class and the terrain is very geared towards beginners and intermediates but there is plenty for those that want to venture off-piste for something more technical. Myrkdalen has an excellent ski school with many highly trained instructors and is a centre of excellence for training Norwegian Ski Instructors. There’s guiding available and entry-level backcountry and avalanche safety courses too.
There’s so much untouched snow accessible through the lifts without the need to take off your skis or board. The resort even offers overnight backcountry trips late in the season. It really is a great place to go if you want to try something new and gain mountain awareness knowledge.
Myrkdalen also has an excellent terrain park with many jumps, rails and boxes for all levels, although it was under construction when we visited as it was too early in the season. There's not much tree-line skiing, but what there is the locals know well and they tell us they've cleared their own secret paths through the tightly knitted silver birches.
There are currently two six-seater lifts (nine in total including three t-bars and three buttons) but plans are in place to open up a whole new mountain to the west of the hotel with the addition of a new chairlift.
Tara's Scandinavian Food Highlights
Over to Tara to talk about the food we enjoyed in resort:
"With the exception of one Norwegian family trussed up in their ski gear, I was surprised to find I was the only person at 8am on Saturday for breakfast in Restaurant Nuten ("The Peak").
"A ski holiday without a skiers’ breakfast is, let’s face it, a hungry holiday. Fortunately, there's a superb Nordic-inspired continental buffet at the Myrkdalen Hotel, which kept us fuelled well up to lunchtime. I resisted freshly-baked waffles, but the Eggerøre og røkt laks (scrambled eggs and smoked salmon) was a delicious substitute. Look out for the Brunost (brown cheese), typically from the Gudbrandsdalsost ("Gudbrand Valley") region.
"If your departing airport transfer leaves before breakfast (8am until 10:30 pm at weekends), the hotel reception can prepare on request delightful breakfast boxes. Ours included cheese and ham baguettes, yoghurt pots, ginger cake and orange juice.
"If like me, you don't travel without tea bags - embarrassing but true - you may wish to pack a travel kettle as there are no tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms. However, 24-hour tea and coffee is available on the first floor Salto Lobby Bar for 290kr a cup (around £2.90).
"Cheese-lovers will be treated to a mountain of the stuff at Nuten Fondue - included on one night for half-board stays. We dipped the largest grapes we’d ever seen (aspiring plums), pineapple and a never-ending bowl of fresh crusty bread into a bubbling pot of three melted cheeses. We learned it was a creamy blend of cheddar, gruyère and gudbrandsdalsost with a generous dash of cherry liqueur, and paired with a glass of crisp, perfectly-chilled Riesling.
"If you’ve ever been to Scandinavia, you’ll know that afterski (their name for après ski!) can bring a whole new level of raucousness. This may be something to do with the region’s strict alcohol licensing laws - alcohol cannot be purchased in shops or supermarkets. Pudder Afterski is Myrkdalen Hotels’ slopeside bar and café, and by 4:30 pm we'd watched impromtu acrobatics on the dancefloor; we didn't stay to witness how boisterous things got towards closing time (9pm) - but we can imagine!
Snowshoeing is just one of the activities the resort offers (there’s also sledding, sleigh rides and night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays from mid-December to mid-March). On our first evening, Michael Wenseth, the resort’s Event Manager, kitted us up and guided us in the moonlight to a brand new hytte (hut), hidden amongst the trees.
We warmed ourselves around a roaring open-air fire with a piping hot solbærsaft (hot blackcurrant) and shared tales of our favourite backcountry and touring experiences. Michael’s was his impressive climb and descent of Europe’s tallest mountain, Mount Elbrus in Russia!
The Perfect Weekend Destination?
We found that Myrkdalen is a great destination for a ski weekend, with an evening flight out of Bergen to Gatwick as well as floodlit night skiing, there’s a high chance of skiing on every day of the trip. It’s a very short flight and transfer to access North American-style powder. A must visit for anyone looking to expand their skiing career.
Experience it Yourself
For first-hand advice or a tailor-made quote, call myself or any of our Scandinavia sales specialists on 01273 224068 or request a quotation online.