A koselig ski weekend in Oppdal

What happens when two Norwegians, a Mexican, a Brit, a German, and an American spend a weekend in a ski cabin?


Photo: David Nikel
The view across Oppdal from the cabin—a winter wonderland.

David Nikel
Trondheim, Norway

A few months ago, I published an article about Norway’s best ski resorts. Despite it being the closest major resort to me here in Trondheim, Oppdal didn’t make the cut. So when my regular board gaming group decided to plan a ski weekend there, I jumped at the chance to join them. After all, seeing Norwegians on the slopes is a rare opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat!

Introducing Oppdal
Oppdal is one of Norway’s biggest alpine resorts and within surprisingly easy reach of Trondheim. Less than two hours by car or train and you’re away from the bustle of the city and enjoying friluftsliv, the outdoor lifestyle valued so much in this country.

The town itself is ordinary and wouldn’t be worth a second look were it not for the slopes. Indeed, many people only know Opp­dal for its position on the main E6 highway between Oslo and Trondheim. Even the town center seems to serve passing motorists and skiers more than its residents. The coffee machines at the gas station were the busiest part of town, while the ratio of sports stores to other shops must be the highest in Norway.

Having said that, there’s a smart new culture house, library, and swimming pool complex that I would’ve loved to have tried out. Next time!

While the town center itself is nothing to write home about, the small estates of mountain cabins a five- to 10-minute drive towards the mountains are like something from a fairytale. This is the true Oppdal! While many are holiday rentals, some people live here all year-round, and it’s not hard to understand why.

On the slopes
It’s fair to say that Oppdal doesn’t have the best of reputations in skiing circles, which is why it didn’t make the cut in my original article. I asked around in Trondheim, and most locals view the facilities as outdated, preferring to take their skiing trips across the Swedish border in Åre.

Nevertheless, I was impressed. The ski rental shack was well-stocked and efficient. Most of the slopes were open and well prepared, and lines were minimal. It was still early in the season, but all signs were good.

With one non-skier and one novice in the group, having a cabin immediately next to the ski lift proved a wise move. Late in the first day, we non-Norwegians gathered in the cabin to play a game and make some food, while the two Norwegians took the last lift to the very top of the mountain for one last tour. “If we’re not back by five, send a search party,” they quipped.

Oppdal Church

Photo: David Nikel
Oppdal Church.

Lost in the woods
It was only when one of our group suddenly realized it was five past five with no sign of the Norwegians that we became concerned. One phone call later, and we discovered they were lost in the woods, off-piste and almost up to their waists in snow.

It was completely dark, so we were unable to assist, but the location trackers on their phones helped reassure us that they were heading in the right direction. It reminded me of the fear I felt when I found myself in the middle of a near-whiteout in only my second time cross-country skiing in the mountains of Grong, several hours north of Trondheim.

Thanks to the maps app on their phones, they made their way across a frozen river back to the slopes and could ski down to the cabin door. Panic over. We then very quickly ran out of cocoa!

Many people like the idea of an off-grid skiing trip, and there is a lot to be said for leaving gadgets and gizmos at home for the weekend. But in this instance, having a smartphone saved them from what might have genuinely become a life-threatening situation.

The Norwegian cabin experience
The most memorable part of the weekend was the excellent cabin. A wood-burning stove provided all the warmth we needed. The modern kitchen had everything necessary to prepare our own delicious meals, and there was plenty of room for six adults.

While the “after-ski” party concept is popular in continental Europe, Norwegians take a more relaxed approach. There was a small party in the bar next to the slopes, but it had finished by 6 p.m. Yes, really!

Instead, we rediscovered the lost art of conversation, prepared and ate meals together, played some excellent board games, and simply enjoyed one another’s company. There’s a lot to be said for koselig, and we found it in abundance in that Oppdal cabin.

Oppdal cabin

Photo: David Nikel
Renting a cabin was a good choice for a group of six.

Tips for a Norway ski break
My top tip for a Norwegian ski break is to ignore the hotels, especially somewhere like Oppdal where the hotels are quite some distance from the slopes. Cabin rentals are competitively priced and offer more comfort, more flexibility, and the opportunity to make your own meals, something that saves significant money for a group of six. Book directly with the ski resorts, or do as we did and find your perfect accommodation through AirBnB.

David Nikel is a freelance writer based in Norway. He runs the popular www.lifeinnorway.net website and podcast and is the author of the Moon Norway guidebook, available now in all good bookstores.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 23, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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David Nikel

David Nikel is a freelance writer based in Norway. He runs the popular www.lifeinnorway.net website and podcast and is the author of the Moon Norway guidebook, available now in all good bookstores.