Norway can boast two haute routes

Long-distance ski trekking

haute route

Photo: Randolf Valle / Aftenposten A-Magasinet
Skiing downhill towards Langfjordhamn along Finnmark’s haute route.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

The Haute Route (literally “High Route”) is the classic of mountaineering traverses through the Alps. It was first hiked and climbed by English mountaineers in the mid-18th century and first skied in 1911 by French ski mountaineers. Today it normally takes 12 days on foot or seven days on skis, from Chamonix at the foot of the Mont Blanc massif in France to Zermatt in Switzerland, with its iconic view of the Matterhorn on the Italian border, said to be Europe’s most photographed mountain.

Around the world, there now are many haute route namesakes, some shorter and some at lower elevation, but each through scenery as spectacular as that of the original. In Norway there are now two. The first, Høgruta Jotunheimen (Haute Route Jotunheimen) from Gjendesheim via four other mountain lodges to Krossbu through the Jotunheimen range of south central Norway, was first skied in 2012 by Norwegians who had been inspired by extreme skiing on Toubkal, the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.

The second, Haute Route Finnmark, is shorter than the trans-Jotunheimen Haute Route. But, to date, it has the distinction of being the only Haute Route in the Arctic, at the northern tip of Norway, between four fishing villages on the Barents Sea, Bergsfjord, Nuvsvåg, Langfjordhamn, and Sør Tverrfjord. This is a rugged, sparsely populated coast. Bergsfjord, the starting point of the three-day trip, has a population of 120. Nuvsvåg, a center for extreme skiing, has a population of 70. Here skiing, uphill and down, is through untracked snow.

M. Michael Brady was educated as a scientist and, with time, turned to writing and translating.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 9, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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