Cross country skiing

April 24th, 2022

The Art of Skiing

April 24th, 2022

Written by

Man on UpNorway journey to Losæter

Sondre Sommerfelt in collaboration with Up Norway

A cosmopolitan travel writer

Tailor your own skiing adventure. Come on Up!

Cross-country skiing in Norway

Tailor your own skiing adventure. Come on Up!

As local experts and travel curators, we'd love to tailor your perfect ski holiday. Just answer five simple questions so we'll know where to start.

This Up Guide is written by insider Sondre Sommerfelt; A cosmopolitan anthropologist, travel writer and cultural entrepreneur, for Up Norway.

Sondre is an Oslo-based travel writer, sailor, skier and cultural critic. He loves the outdoors and city life (who doesn’t) and knows everything that moves on Norway’s cultural and music scene. Enjoy his humorous - yet useful - guides to Norway.

'Norwegians; born with skis on their feet'

Skiing for beginners:

  1. Put a soft drink and a chocolate bar in your rucksack, preferably the Fanta-like Solo and the Kit-Kat rip-off, Kvikk Lunsj. Norwegians just love milk chocolate!
  2. Do not worry, everybody falls. Even the pros.
  3. Remember, a Norwegian will always lie about the distance you will be travelling. When out skiing they will tell you the distance is shorter than it really is. Once safely back home in front of the fireplace, they will exaggerate about the same distance.
  4. The most important advice is from Frank Zappa himself: ‘Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t eat that yellow snow.’
Kids with slalom skis

The way to really get a Norwegian is to try to understand their obsession with cross-country skiing (langrenn)

For the unenlightened, this is the skiing technique in which the sportswoman (or man) propels themselves across snow-covered terrain using skis and poles. This is not the same as alpine skiing (slalom), where the skier takes a chair lift up a hill and then skis down again, repeatedly. Purists think that is cheating. You need to struggle hard to ascend the mountains – on slippery, properly waxed skis of course – then walk straight on into the woods for hours, before, finally, whizzing down again.

Cross-country skiing is what a Norwegian would argue is the fixie bike on snow, the Sūtra of frost – Asthanga, Norse style. A Norwegian will tell you that cross-country skiing involves the highest endurance levels of all sports, as its motions make use of every major muscle group, and that it burns the most calories.


An accepted alpine discipline for purists is the off-piste randonnée skiing, that is, in simple terms, climbing up a mountain before skiing the hillside down again. People doing this are stoic Transcendentalists. They immerse themselves in nature to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Simple living and self-sufficiency are the idea, though simple living and luxurious Carbon ski wear are the reality.

The best places to ski down are the ‘gaddis’, vertical cracks for climbing up and then skiing down again - unless you want to bike down with spikes on your wheels or, even better, fly down in a wing suit. The Lyngen Alps in Troms - North of Norway - and the Sunmørs Alp and Romsdals Alps in the west are some of the best Randonnée spots in the world. These places you can start your adventure by the fjord, climb up steep hillsides before you do some delicate skiing or snowboarding on down again to the fjords - “Vive la pudre!” as they say in Chamonix.

Randonne skiing in the Sunnmøre Alps

Buns & chocolate

If you get the hang of it, and find a rhythm to slide on the skis smoothly, conquering the mountains, you might understand what all the fuss is about. The best thing about the whole experience is the cabins (hytter) spread evenly throughout the mountains and in close proximity to the cities, where you will be served boller (sweet buns) and kakao (hot chocolate). Also handy is the floodlighting of many tracks after dark (which is not very late in the wintertime), making skiing possible straight after working hours.

Waxing slightly philosophical, as many Norwegians do when it comes to skiing – some great skiers have indeed become philosophers – what makes it so intriguing has to do with escapism, the notion that you can just put on your skis and leave the strains of daily life. From the last metro stop in outskirts of the capital, Oslo, you can in theory follow the woodland all the way north to Lillehammer, or if you are very frisky, walk further north all the way to the North Cape Plateau above the Arctic Circle and on to the border with Russia. The mountains of the west of Norway is the starting point of the massive Taiga, the world’s largest terrestrial biome, a subarctic forest that stretches all the way through Siberia to Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast. Just the idea of this is enormous, and not only for Sir David Attenborough and his BBC crew, but also for a simple Norseman.

You might have questions about our journeys? Here are some of the most common ones.

Danny Dodd working at Up Norway

Danny Dodd

Travel Curator
Hi! I'm Danny, and I'm a Travel Curator here at Up. Get in touch, and I'll do my best to answer any questions you might have.