How to ski Norway’s Lofoten islands like Paddy Graham

Squawk, the latest offering from Legs of Steel, our favourite Euro shred crew, sees British freeskier Paddy Graham taking on the lofty peaks of Lofoten. Here are his tips for getting the most out of them

Hire a plane

The best way to scope out the potential touring in the area is by air, although this isn’t easy… We knew of only one private plane in the surrounding 400km, which was owned by a fisherman! Alternatively, there are some useful guide books about the area, as well as excellent mountain guides, including Northern Alpine Guides. I’d also recommend a trip to Trollfjord by boat – it’s an epic adventure where you start touring almost from the water.

Be fit

Be prepared to put in some effort. In Lofoten, you generally start at sea level and to get the goods you have to go high. I think the longest we skinned was around six hours, taking in a multitude of peaks and making long descents, but the average was probably more like two to three hours. Either way, good fitness is essential. And remember that your group is only as fast as the slowest person, so stick together and have a laugh. Daylight lasts well into the evening during spring in this region, so don’t be surprised if you’re still skiing at 10pm.

Paddy making the most of those long spring evenings… |Photo Pally Learmond

Expect some weather

Since you’re skiing by the ocean, the weather changes from day to day, and from hour to hour. We experienced every weather imaginable, but don’t be put off by this; remember that just around the corner there could be sun. Simply head to the next mountain and hope for the best!

Gear up

We opted for a few overnight tours, which meant we had to be very careful about what to pack. Good sleeping bags and camping mats are essential, but equally you don’t want to carry too much weight. Take a couple of dry food meals in case of an emergency, and spare camping gas too. Keep warm, change your wet clothes and dry them out properly.

Respect the terrain

Lofoten has something for everyone, whether it’s your first touring trip or your hundredth. It was like nowhere I’d skied before: the views were breathtaking and there was always good snow to be found. But remember: Lofoten is very remote! There is no ski patrol, you can go a whole day without seeing another soul, phone reception is intermittent and you are often miles from civilisation. Therefore you have to be cautious with your skiing and your line choices. Experience is key, as is good decision making. Always have a plan and let someone know your expected departure and return times. Take a guide and make sure you have the backcountry equipment and knowledge to handle any situation. Above all, have fun! It was a trip of a lifetime for me, with the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine, great snow, great skiing and a lot of laughs.

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