Splitboard Norway The Arctic Isles Sessions

On a Splitboard Norway session, we invite you to explore the northern reaches of the arctic circle with us, on splitboards. We have discovered a tranquil zone of cold fjords populated with small islands situated at a latitude of 70 degrees north. This arctic archipelago, as usual on a Rider Social trip, is a relatively unknown and off-the-radar destination.

In late April and early May these special islands offer up dream touring, the kind of splitboarding you’ll only find in the land of the midnight sun.

Norway is already famous for ski touring, destinations such as the Lyngen Alps and the Lofoten fjords often spring to mind, but they are becoming increasingly busy. We have found a zone that combines the best of all of these places and we’re excited to show it to you.

We spent 18 days there on our successful first sessions’ in 2023 and we’ll be returning there in April & May, 2024. Running back to back, each session is a trip of 9 days and 8 nights, with 6 full days of UIAGM splitboard guiding and 7 nights accommodation included. But, lets take a closer look at what else makes this particular destination so different..

Downtown Tromsø . Day 1. The first stop on this adventure.

Tromsø  is a cool place, literally. Its a 21.5km square city and has been inhabited since the ice age. Remains of buildings of 10,000 years old have been discovered in the area. The compact city centre has the biggest concentration of historic wooden houses north of the city of Trondheim, mingling in with modern architecture. Today the city is a cultural centre for its region, with several festivals taking place in the summer. When we visit in late April / early May, its at the start of the off-season which lets us take it all in at a leisurely pace. There are some incredible outdoor shops here too, offering end of season deals.

It’s where we’ll meet you on your arrival, we do suggest getting here a day before the trip starts in case of flight or baggage delays. That means we can also get together on the evening for a beer and bite to eat at one of the many great bars and restaurants in Tromso.

A Fjord Escort. Day 2. The transfer to Skjervoy

On the Saturday morning we will collect you from your accommodation in Tromso, load the baggage and start the journey to Skjervoy. It takes around 3.5 hours of total travel time.

There are a couple of ways to get there. We can either follow the coastal roads in the cars or we can use the ferry system. Using the ferry service is our favourite way to travel, we can get a break from driving and grab a coffee on the boat. It also gives you a chance to stretch your legs and take in some cold arctic sea air on deck, should you like.

There are 2 ferries that we need to catch, its a great way to break up the journey and leaves us with only an hour and forty minutes in the cars.

From the last ferry its just a 40 minute drive to the accommodation.

The Accommodation.

Our home for the trip is a private lodge, owned by our accommodation partners Ole & Heike. It was where Ole grew up, his family home. After school he became a captain of an oil tanker, literally taking a slow boat to China for 25 years, before returning to the sleepy fishing commune of Skjervoy with his Danish wife, Heike. Here they started up a fishing tourism operation – they have 5 boats all with GPS and sonar – and cater for a worldwide market of fishing enthusiasts who come to catch big fish in the arctic waters between May and September.

They also have a whale watching business – when the vast, vast shoals of herring come through each year they are followed by pods of Orca and humpback whales. On a quiet day you can see dolphins in the bay, right out of the kitchen window.

The lodge itself is a bright and traditional Norwegian house. It is over 3 floors and has 2 double bedrooms downstairs whilst upstairs is more of an open plan design that can sleep another 6 people. There are 2 separate shower bathrooms / toilets, a spacious and comfortable living area, a large modern kitchen and a great terrace for sunnier days. The views are looking out over the bay to Kagen island and across the fjord are nothing short of spectacular.

As ever, we’re staying supremely mobile : )

What makes this lodge so unique though is its perfect positioning for a splitboard trip, exploring this zone. Situated on the mainland, it is equidistant from the 2 small ferry harbours and the undersea tunnel that link our archipelago together. This means we can move quickly to catch a single ferry to the place with the best conditions on that day. If we stayed on one of the islands, that would mean we would need to take several ferries to get to another zone, should the conditions prefer it there.

Where we are based means we can choose whichever island (or even go somewhere further inland) we want to splitboard tour on each morning, usually over breakfast. It’s location ensures we get to choose the right place for you to ride in each day. This is a one of kind accommodation in that respect, there is really nothing else like it in the vicinity.

We provide breakfast on each morning (7 days) a picnic lunch for the mountain on 6 days and a homemade evening meal on 6 nights too. It is fresh, tasty and filling – prepared by your RS crew member – don’t worry, they have LOTS of cooking experience! On the one night off, we will go to a restaurant on the island of Skjervoy so you can try out the local cuisine. This isn’t included in the trip price, we don’t provide alcohol on any part of the trip either.

Dream Splitboard Touring: Days 3-8

Splitboard touring in Norway is different, so different to everywhere else. The views, oh my the views, for a start. Icy mountains rise from cold fjords in arctic blue ocean and the temptation to fill up your devices’ SD cards with images on the walk alone is tempting.

When we set the skin track it will of course be splitboard friendly, but it can still be steep. You may well need to use splitboard crampons and boot crampons multiple times on the same ascent and also understand how to execute a decent kickturn. All the same, we will always be on hand to help, instruct and guide you at all times if required.

On each day expect to walk upwards of 1000 vertical metres, its never usually more than 1300m. However, starting at sea level each day means you have very little acclimatisation to make. This makes for really quite enjoyable walking, even if we look to make past 300m of vert per hour. It is a world away from starting a tour at 2000m and walking up to 3000m +. In fact the only really breath-taking thing about the actual splitting are the views (or a swim at the end of the day!)

Here’s a video of a typical day of daily ferry rides and skinning.

UIAGM splitboard guiding. Day 3 to 8. Your safety is our number one priority.

Your guide for this trip will be Polo Verdier.  Polo graduated from ENSA in Chamonix with distinction in 2013, joining the Compagnie des Guides in Les Contamines.   A UIAGM qualified guides can take you to the top of Everest. What makes Polo so special in this field is that he would be able to take you up it on a splitboard.  There are only a handful of UIAGM qualified splitboard guides in Europe, Polo has led Rider Social trips since 2014 and has been our go to guide for our worldwide trips since 2017.

We also specialise in small group size.  On this trip the guide / client ratio is 1:4.

This means you get to ride in terrain that would be off-limits to larger groups as it can be safely manged.  Another Rider Social crew member will act as a backmarker on your trip.  This added layer of safety allows the lead UIAGM guide to concentrate more on finding you the best lines to ride.

  • A small group = more exciting terrain
  • UIAGM = professional and rare high mountain splitboard guiding
  • An all splitboard group = splitboard specific ascents and descents

We will be required to carry full backcountry access equipment.  This includes snowboard boot crampons, a harness, and an ice-axe.  Avalanche transceivers will be worn, and a shovel and probe will be in your pack, every single time we go into the mountains.  If you don’t already have experience of using this equipment, you’re in the right place to learn about it.  As a part of the trip, we also provide splitboard alpinism technique training – how to efficiently pack the equipment, when to deploy it and most importantly how to use it safely and effectively.  Avalanche search and rescue training sessions will also feature.  It could be that you are learning to search using a transceiver for the first time or, perhaps you’ll use the training as a refresher course if you already know how to use one.

All training and backcountry craft education is led by a Rider Social UIAGM qualified splitboard guide, we can also arrange for rental of any equipment you may need, should you not already own it.

Day 3 to 8. Fitness & ability

This splitboard trip is for people with a good level of snowboarding (minimum 10 weeks), experience of splitboarding and a high level of physical fitness.

There are no lifts here. A typical day will involve making ascents of minimum 1000 vertical metres on a splitboard (some days it will be more but we don’t tend to go over 1300 vertical metres) and there are ascents we’ll make that have sections which will require you to hike wearing snowboard boot crampons and the carrying of your board on your bag. It is hard work on some days but the rewards are incredible.

You should be comfortable making kickturns on steeper gradients of around 30 degrees. Depending on the conditions this could be in an icy skintrack, you should already be familiar with using splitboard crampons (knives / couteaux).

We exist to help people become better splitboarders, and on these trips we will offer as much encouragement and tuition as required. We also expect you to pay full attention to any instructions given by your guide on the mountain at all times.

If you haven’t previously attended a Rider Social trip then we will need to ask you for a few details about your splitboard experience to date. This is necessary not only for your safety but that of the group as a whole.

On all of our splitboard trips we strive to provide the best experience for the group as a whole. Only by putting together crews of similar experience and ability enable us to deliver on this.

Day 3 to 8. The Riding

Lets face it, we’re here to snowboard too and we’re always searching for the coldest snow and best weather windows to ride it in. Lets just say that when it’s good in Norway, it’s the hardest place to beat.

Get in touch for the next session here