The wise man finds pleasure in the sea,
the virtuous in the mountains
Skisailing means sailing through the mountains, possibly under sail, taking the pleasure of looking around to choose the perfect peak for our tastes, our technical possibilities and our personal predisposition for adrenaline. Once the mountain has been chosen, we go ashore, usually using some jetty of which the Norwegian coast is full, put on our skis and skins, and off we go. Every day a different port, a different channel, a different mountain. Where cars can’t go.
Our ski sailing expeditions in Norway try to avoid the popular areas of the Lyngen Alps and concentrate on smaller, isolated islands. We sail between the Lyngen and Vannoya, Kagen, Arnoya and the spectacular Senja. All of these islands offer small harbours as well as useful local transport to organise ascents and innovative crossings.
It should be noted that the guide is written by a true ski mountaineering neophyte, and its aim is to bring ski mountaineers closer to the sea.
Enjoy the movie mostly filmed at Nordlight, from minute 8: FILM ON OUR WAY on Vimeo
Information and prices
When: cruises and basic land and sea combinations of 7 days and 8 nights. The 2024 season starts on 11 March with departures every 8 days, then 19 and 27 March, 4, 12 and 19 and 26 April.
Where: North Troms islands between Senja and Loppa, hundreds of kilometres of unique coastline, islands and mountain ranges.
Weather: Classic North Atlantic weather with strong variability, with short and frequent disturbances. Temperatures at sea level range from -8 to 5 degrees in winter .
Aurora Borealis: the Nordlight area, open to the north and far from any light source, offers optimal conditions for admiring the Aurora Borealis. The period of visibility begins in September and ends in April.
Boat: Swan 44, design Sparkman & Stephens,
Self catering: 900 euros plus MVA 12% per person 7 days/8 nights.
All inclusive with galley service: 1500 euros
The northwest corner of Norway is crowned by dozens of islands, some large, such as Senja, others smaller but no less spectacular. Gigantic sentinels with extreme walls, so dear to Kilian Jornet, who here amuses himself by running along the ridges as if floating in infinity, the mountains are disguised as peninsulas and promontories with a verticality of mythological Nordic assonances, floating on a dark ocean, now black, now white, now deep blue. To those elsewhere with similar contrasts between ocean and mountain, such as Patagonia and Alaska, this corner of Norway offers the cancellation of distance. While the passage from boat to summit is hampered in Patagonia by atrocious weather and in Alaska by inhuman distances, here the mountains plummet into the sea so that every harbour becomes an alpine refuge.
After four years of discovering the mountains and navigating the waters of this spectacular corner of the world, we decided to create a real base for travellers and skiers. After much research, the choice fell on the island of Vannoya, in itself a splendid destination for ski mountaineering, but also located close to Arnoya and Kagen, two islands that combine breathtaking peaks, various traverse possibilities and priceless views. Our skisailing weeks will therefore be organised between the Vannoya base and one- or multi-day boat expeditions to optimise the time spent up here, favouring the boat on milder days and our island retreat on more difficult days.
In April 2021, thanks to a truly fortunate set of unforeseen events, I discovered the peninsula and the houses that would become Nordlight. It takes less than 10 minutes by car on dirt roads to reach the foot of Vannkysta (938m), which seems to emerge directly from Vannvag harbour. It is a favourite peak for Norwegian sailors and skiers who do not like crowds. It is an easy and scenic hike up to the ridge, which you follow to avoid an unstable area below the summit, which is flat and surrounded by vertical gorges on three sides and a series of ridges that push off to the southeast. The view of the ocean and islands is probably the best in Norway with the exception of Senja, a 360 sweeping from the Atlantic to the Lyngen alps, from the wilder islands in the north to the softer ones in the south. The bravest skier will have several daring couloirs at his disposal, while the poet can get lost in the valleys between Vannkysta and Vanntinden and the Peppartinden. A true paradise for snowshoers, dreamers and loners.
Even closer to home and right above our harbour is the mountain range of Pepperdinden and Vanntindan, at around 900 metres, which offer a spectacular series of channels, hills, walls, gullies and hollows that have the particularity of always being deserted and offer an unparalleled view of Fugloya and the last islands before the Arctic Ocean
In the 2022 season Nordlight hosted skiers from all over and together we began to explore some of the possible routes and descents that the island offers, some of which are now plotted on Fatmap. The traverse of Vanntindan, the couloirs above the frozen lake of Svartvann and the views from the big ridge of Saudalsfjellet proved particularly spectacular. As a whole, the island alone offers plenty to enjoy for days on end because Nordlight is the only base on site.
The three peaks of Kagen, Østre Kågtinden 1165m, Store Kågtinden 1190 and Storstandestinden 1097m are among the most desirable peaks in northern Norway. Difficult, with a breathtaking and definitive panorama, and with plenty of downhill and traverse possibilities on the island, with a convenient and easy harbour, this is a sure bet. The island alone is worth a stop for at least a couple of trips, but you can also get lost in it for a week. For all three peaks, the ascent begins gently and continues to the highest part of the island’s three valleys. Then culoirs of varying difficulty lead to the island’s ridges. What people love about Kagen is that incredible ability to take you out of the world in just a few skins, winding you with daring peaks and vertical walls, around amphitheatres of a lost world, and giving you thrilling ridges with breathtaking views. And there are very few skiers around these mountains.
Arnøyhøgda (1170) is the highest peak in Arnøya, a fantastic scenic peak. Arnøyhøgda has a very long ski season and by taking your skis to Tjuvdalen for two kilometres, you can ski until July. It is the northernmost mountain in the area and the icy north winds often sweep over the summit and it is said that ice of sidereal hardness and treachery forms on the final ridge from 1100 metres, so crampons are highly recommended to reach the summit.
To the north, only the ocean. To the south, an endless collection of white crystal Toblerone bars.
But there are numerous other peaks on the island, some less challenging like the Trolltinden in the south and others, more difficult, still virtually unexplored.