Mountain enthusiasts in Sunnfjord have created a ski tour culture in this beautiful terrain. The ski tour guide book for Sunnfjord contains contributions from ten authors who were keen to share their mountain experiences! Magnificent mountain terrain unfolds when you turn your gaze inland from Førde and follow the E39 road towards Jølstravatnet lake and the valleys around the Jostedalsbreen glacier.
Cold and abundant snow
This is one of the areas in Norway that gets the most precipitation, and the glacial landscape ensures that the precipitation falls as lovely, cold snow. Many people have now become aware of the fantastic randonnée and ski touring opportunities in Sunnfjord, and local skiers and powder enthusiasts have helped to create a culture in which they wish like-minded people a warm welcome.
This culture is apparent at the charming Jølster ski resort, enjoyed by free-riders and racers. The ski centre is run on a voluntary basis by the locals and offers excellent freeriding terrain. Two T-bar lifts efficiently transport skiers up a distance of 500 metres in altitude. You can put on your climbing skins at the top of the Kvamsheisen lift, and climb another 300-metre ascent in alpine terrain up towards Kvamsfjellet, and enjoy the abundant fresh snow on the way down!
There are many randonnée mountains around Jølstravatnet lake, and the municipality has worked on developing car parks at many of the starting points for these new classic routes so that people don’t have to worry about being in other vehicles’ way while they’re off skiing.
One such car park can be found innermost in the Ålhusdalen valley, just past the village Ålhus beside Jølstravatnet lake. You can start the ascent to Gotdalsnipa, 1,249 metres, from Fjellstøylen. You start at an elevation of around 250 metres above sea level, and climb an almost 1,000-metre ascent in excellent ski touring terrain.
The best way down from the top is the north-facing run looking up to Grønlifjellet, which is also incidentally an excellent ski touring mountain, a great destination for those looking for a longer and tougher tour.
The queens of Sunnfjord
Another nearby Jølster classic is the well-known motif used by the artist Nikolai Astrup, who has immortalised ‘the Ice Queen’ peaks of Blåfjellet, Egga and Nipa. Park at Helgheim church and ski almost from the very edge of Jølstravatnet lake up the hillside and look forward to cruising your way back down. You can do several summits on a day trip.
If you would like to spend time collecting the summits here, you can stay at Jølsterlia hyttetun, a pleasant basecamp for exploring this part of the valley.
While we’re talking about royalty, we should mention ‘the Queen of Sunnfjord’, Snønipa. It is the highest mountain in the area, and, at 1,826 metres, towers over Stardalen valley, glacier-clad, cold and expectant. The summit is a nunatak above Myklebustbreen glacier, with views across the fjord landscape all the way to Jotunheimen when the visibility is good. This is a long and exciting ski tour, which many of the locals do at Easter!
Sunnfjord’s own Haute route
Snøpipa makes for a lovely trip both on mountain skis and touring skis, but also because it is literally the highlight of the Sunnfjord route, a three-day tour that has become Sunnfjord’s very own Haute route. The route offers more than 4,000 altitude metres in the very heart of these mountains.
The Sunnfjord route has become quite the phenomenon, and you can do it with the help of the locals, by booking a package that includes a guide, accommodation and food en route. Day 1 starts at Jølstraholmen camping, which offers great all-year accommodation and is the preferred host of skiers doing the Sunnfjord route. They know how to give you the best start by giving you locally baked products and they help you to transport your luggage to the nest leg, where you spend the night at Kjøsnes feriehytter.
There you stay in spacious, modern holiday cabins with beautiful views of Jølstravatnet lake and the surrounding mountains. It’s not far from here to a number of great ski tours. It’s only a few minutes, for example, to the starting point for fantastic ski tours, to e.g. Olahansfjellet in the Dvergsdalsdalen valley, which you will have admired on Day 1 of the Sunnfjord route.
On Day 1, you climb Salsegga on the southern side of Jølstravatnet lake and enjoy great snow on the way down towards Kjøsnes. Day 2 takes you across Storaksla to the local giant Bjørga, before you ski down to Stardalen hyttegrend. You will be ready to attack Snønipa on Day 2, having enjoyed excellent hosts, skiing on fresh snow and having taken great photos.
On a guided tour in Sunnfjord
Given the number of options available in Sunnfjord, a skilled guide from the guiding company Breogfjell can help you to establish an overview of the area. They will give you tips about where you can find the best snow and safe routes down the mountains, and organise a rope team when you cross the glacier.
Breogfjell help you to customise your experience, and with so much unspoiled terrain around, you’re bound to find untouched snow!
Gaularfjellet; the main artery
Just south of the landscape around Jølstravatnet lake, you will come across brown signs that tell you that you are driving Norwegian Scenic Route Gaularfjellet. The Scenic Route features a number of waterfalls, bridges and hairpin bends. It’s also a great starting point for many trips in the mountains.
During the winter months, you have access to Rørvikfjellet and Haukedalen valley and, through it, to the lovely Viksdalen valley, if you’re coming from Førde. From Rørvikfjellet fjellstove, you can climb to the highest point of the Rimmane mountain formation, Ørnefjellet, in the north. There is an easier trip to the south to Venevassegga. You are assured a lot of snow on both trips, which the locals do as early as in November and December.
You will also come to the idyllic small farm Flatheim, with its charming animals and hosts, as you drive through Viksdalen valley. They have welcomed visitors for generations and take particularly good care of ski tourists. Norwegian Scenic Route Gaularfjellet normally opens at the end of April/early May every year, which will give you access to even more great mountains to ski.
Hosts with style
Whatever kind of accommodation you want, you will find a comfortable bed and, not least, great food in Sunnfjord. The breakfast at Scandic Sunnfjord hotel & spa in Førde has been voted Fjord Norway’s best breakfast many years in a row, an impressive achievement given the competition. You can enjoy an excellent dinner at the restaurant Ete Fysst, where they serve a modern take on traditional fare. If you want to be able to share your culinary experience of Western Norway, we recommend a visit to Fjordamattunet, where you can do a course on traditional food and different baking methods, from cakes to traditional pancakes and flatbread!