Backcountry skiing off the beaten track in Europe.
This is a short guide to amazing, but underrated destinations for freeride backcountry skiing in Europe. Our hope is that it might be an inspiration for your next travel. If you like putting on skins and walking up, this is for you.
This guide is not complete, but the places mentioned are highly recommended.
The easiest way to Bormio, is to drive 3 hours along Lake Como towards the Italian alps and the Stelvio pass, just south of the Swiss border.
The area is in the middle of high peak mountains and if you go from late February you´ll probably get loads of snow. With a base in Bormio you can easily go to Santa Caterina Valfurva, Arnoga and Livigno. Hire a local guide and get blown away. A tip is to go to the SkiTrab factory to upgrade your equipment with world class light weight skis made with italian passion and love. I have been there several times, and the area never seizes to impress me. The variety of high alpine summits up to 3500 meters, long scenic valleys and forest rides are just perfect. Great local food and wine makes it even better.
Tatry Mountains, Slovakia
For some reason Slovakia has gone under the radar for skiers. The Tatry mountains is part of the Carpathian Mountain range, and are forming a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. On the Polish side you find destinations like Zakopane, which you absolutely should check out.
Anyway, the advanced freeriders should really have an experience of the wild alpine peaks and steep couloirs of this area. If you love ploughing powder down wooded hills, you are in heaven right here. Summits are typically 2-2500 meters above sea level.
Svaneti region, Georgia
For centuries the Svaneti region in Georgia has been one of the most remote and isolated destinations in Europe. The areas unpeaceful history of kingdoms and war, has placed villages strategically on the foot of 3-5000 meter summits. Beautiful medieval architecture gives you the perfect mood for entering the amazing mountains with skins and skis. You will never regret a trip to this area, it might become the place you always return to.
The Russian Caucasus, skiing Mt Elbrus and surrounding area
Mt Elbrus is the roof of Europe. It is a popular hike, but not many people go there to ski. It is hard. You will need a week on acclimatization and loads of planning before go up. We suggest going skitouring on the nearby peaks. Your typical base is Prielbrusie, a region in the Central Caucasus, the location of Mount Elbrus. Great snow, great mountains.
The Kola peninsula, Russia.
Mount Kukisvumchorr is about 5 kilometres away from Kirovsk (Murmansk Oblast). Close to the Norway border and the Barents Sea. This is the northernmost area of Europe. Mount Aikuaivenchorr should be on your list. You will find enough of routes and mountains filled with POW for a weekend, a week or a whole season.
Sunndal Mountains via Romsdal to Sunnmøre alps in Norway.
This area contains one of the most scenic fjord landscapes in Norway. Steep mountains straight up from the ocean makes the area perfect for ski touring. Another big advantage is that the distances in this area are short, so you will almost always find good snow somewhere. The peaks are impressive and will give you that alpine feeling.
Lofoten and Vesterålen archipelagos, Norway.
Imagine putting on your skis and starting your ski climb right by the beach. This is the place for that. The peaks in the area are not high, but perfect for day trips, and you get the alpine feeling at once. The whole destination is North of the polar circle. The best time to travel here is from March to May, because the days are longer.
Svalbard is wild and arctic with untouched nature and polar bears. Enjoy reaching your starting point by boat or snowmobile. You also need a guide with weapon. That is what you´ll get in Svalbard. A totally unique adventure. Go there in May-June and have a midnight sun backcountry skiing experience. A good idea is to join the local ski touring festival.