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The little town of Loen innermost in Nordfjord has become the epicentre of the contrasts of fjord life. A favourite destination among both cruise ship tourists and air sports enthusiasts, Loen Skylift provides a speedy transition between the two aspects of life here; the sea and the mountains.

The cable car operates like a pendulum whereby one car goes up while the other comes down. The cable cars have been named after the Norse God Odin’s ravens, Hugin and Munin. You enter the cable car not far from the water’s edge, and, in five minutes, climb to an elevation that would have taken you hours to get to under your own steam.

Loen Skylift has a gradient of 53%, straight up to Mount Hoven, 1,011 metres above sea level.|© Bård Basberg

Our very own Vallée Blanche

One thousand metres straight up. You get a sense of being in the Alps, as if you were in Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix. At the top station, you will find the beautiful Hoven restaurant and plenty of space to enjoy! You can put on your climbing skins and fasten your bindings and choose between a number of skiing trips at different levels.

The summit closest to Mount Hoven is called Skredfjellet and can be climbed easily in just over half an hour. From Skredfjellet, you can ski down a lovely long run to the valley on the other side, north towards Staurisætra and Stryn. The terrain is ideal for cruising down small valleys and having fun skiing through woodland when you get below the treeline.

If you fancy a slightly longer trip, head east up Staurinibba, 1,379 metres above sea level, a pleasant climb from Mount Hoven, which will definitely get your heart rate going. Instead of skiing down to Stryn, you can ski east from Staurinibba down Grimedalen valley, and enjoy skiing a 600-metre descent on untouched snow in fantastic terrain to Lohøgesætra – the only problem is getting back up!

There’s always sunshine above the clouds – from the trip up Staurinibba.|© Bård Basberg

Those who start their ski tour by taking the Skylift may well want to make Lohøgesætra the first leg of a longer trip. Its altitude means you have a good chance of finding quality snow there even in May and June. On days when you can’t ski all the way down to the fjord, you can ski back to the cable car across Staurinibba.

If you want to do a proper day trip from the Skylift, continue upwards from there. From Lohøgesætra, you can climb Dispahyrna, 1,481 metres, or Geitafjellhyrna, 1,628 metres above sea level. Your efforts will really be rewarded on a trip like this, when you can ski down the whole mountain to Oppstrynsvatnet lake below.

All levels of mountain experiences

It’s no wonder local powder enthusiasts have bought season tickets to Loen Skylift. The skiing community has really begun to appreciate all the opportunities the cable car presents since it opened in 2017, and the downhill runs are quickly becoming classics. People who are not familiar with the area can bring a guide to assure them of the snow conditions and the routes, or to make the ski tour an even better experience.

A mountain guide from Breogfjell can help you to choose your route. |© Bård Basberg

The local mountain guides from Breogfjell know all the mountainsides, traverses and tricks in the area. The experience is also part of a package deal that includes accommodation and dinner at Hotel Alexandra. Set aside a weekend to enjoy the mountains above Nordfjord, and to improve your skiing. Mountain guides who know what they’re doing will show you the way, whether it’s getting to know the area, or climbing the king of the mountains, Storskredfjellet at 1,815 metres above sea level.

However, the cable car was not only built for adrenaline junkies. The mountain plateau at the summit has been designed to ensure experiences for everyone, including those who are not in the habit of skiing or those who simply want to go sledging. The snow on the plateau on the top is flattened so that you can walk around, and there is a sledging slope for children, with sledge hire for children (of all ages) who want to play in the snow on the top of Mount Hoven.

If you would like to venture off the established trail, you can hire snow shoes and set off on a snowshoe tour – accompanied by a guide if you wish! When the weather and conditions permit, the guide can accompany you on a longer trip to the top of Staurinibba. When you return to the cable car you can enjoy a mug of cocoa, or how about a delicious dinner?

Some people head up here just to visit the restaurant, and it’s a popular spot for dates and Christmas parties among the locals. You might find a pair of sweethearts sitting at one table and a gang of snow-covered ski bums at another. In beautiful scenery on the edge of the precipice, Hoven restaurant offers culinary experiences to match the view, and serves food made from local ingredients from the fjord below.

A snow-assured sledging slope on Mount Hoven ensures the summit is fun for all!|© Bård Basberg
The elegant Hotel Alexandra has a modern spa section, several restaurants and an indoor and outdoor pool.|© Janne Alsaker

Loen’s most stylish venue

There are great downhill runs on the other side of the valley, but you’re maybe wondering how you’re going to get back? Well, you can be picked up by Hotel Alexandra’s very own powder taxi of course! You can’t talk about Loen without mentioning Alexandra, which has been an independent family-run hotel since 1890, now run by the fifth generation of owners.

The hotel is an institution that really looks after its guests, and it has always particularly favoured walkers and skiers. The hotel gives you a sense of being a modern-day Slingsby (a mountaineering pioneer). If you prefer swimming, running on a treadmill and visiting the spa, or playing snooker and drinking a glass of something delicious from the hotel’s ‘cellar’, you’ll find it all at Alexandra. Overall, Loen can offer you the mountain experience to suit your taste.