Our Senja Island ski touring holiday explores this amazing Arctic Island in northern Norway. Senja lies 100 kilometers west of the well known Lyngen Peninsula. It’s a very remote spot and therefore much quieter, with amazing fjord scenery. Needless to say, the ski touring is excellent – summit to sea descents and plenty of variety are on offer, ranging from classic peaks, to ski mountaineering and steeper couloirs.
Skiing on Senja
Senja Island lies at 69 degrees north, ie some 300km north of the arctic circle, on the north west coast of Norway. It is the second largest island in Norway and variously known as ‘the magic island’ or ‘Norway in miniature’, due to the wide variety of scenery present on the island. Here you’ll find deep fjords, alpine peaks and rolling upland terrain dotted with lakes and summits.
The highest peaks reach 1000m, so make good day touring objectives and many drop straight into the sea, giving excellent summit to sea descents amidst breath taking scenery. For fitter and stronger skiers, there are numerous options for link ups, traverses and steep descents to make bigger days. The island has a good road network too, allowing access to even the most remote spots in about an hour from where we stay.
March is an ideal time to visit, offering plenty of daylight at this time of year, low enough temperatures for powder and a chance of seeing the northern lights.
This trip travels on friday out/friday return, to make use of cheaper flight prices.
Recent Trip Reports:
- Senja Trip 2018 – Report/Photos
- Senja Ski Touring – VIDEO
- Senja delivers again – VIDEO
- Exploring Senja on Skis – REPORT/PHOTOS
- Senja 2015 – VIDEO
Need further information? enquire about this trip.
This is an intermediate level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 2-3 and Tech Level 3 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines). You need previous ski touring experience to join this tour – if you are a strong/fit skier, just a few previous days will be enough. The week includes 5-6 hour days with generally steady climbs, but also some steeper terrain involving kick turns and the odd short boot track to reach summits. Typically we’ll be doing 800-1000m of ascent a day (but this is at at sea level, with day packs on) – so you can expect to be skinning for 3-4 hours a day. Type of ascent: we use 100% skinning on this tour – approx 5000m of skinning up, 5000m of skiing down, all at sea level.
One UIAGM guide skiing with 6 clients.
This trip is protected against financial failure through our membership of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT) – Alpine Guides Ltd, Membership Number 5394. For further information, please visit our Financial Protection page.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 2 nights accommodation in Tromso, including breakfast.
- 5 nights accommodation at Senja Lodge (self catering, food included)
- Travel during the trip in shared hire vehicle
Excluded from price (see factsheet for cost estimates)
- Evening meals in Tromso
- Drinks and hill snacks
- Equipment hire
Our hotel in Tromso is the excellent 3 star Scandic Grand Hotel situated in the centre of town, and just 10 mins from the airport. The Scandic is an excellent stop-over providing a legendary breakfast, and is is close to restaurants in the bustling centre of Tromso.
Our accommodation on Senja is the Senja Lodge located in a tiny fishing village on the far north side of the island, surrounded by stunning mountains and just a stones throw from the Arctic ocean. It is owned and run by local mountain guide Bent Vidar Eilertsen as a self catering skiers and climbers lodge – formerly a fishermans cottage, it now makes a stunning base from which to explore the island and is a very comfortable place to hang out.
At the Lodge you will find shared bedrooms (2-4 bunks in each room), a toilet and bathroom with shower, drying room, equipment and work room for servicing gear, a fully equipped kitchen and two living rooms – one with a wide screen TV and a large collection of ski/climb/expedition films, and one with a huge library of mountaineering books. The bunks have duvets and pillows, but not linen/covers so you need to take your own linen/covers or a light sleeping bag or liner. We will self cater and buy food supplies locally. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements. Lodge details can be found on our Accommodation page.
Fly from UK to Tromso in Northern Norway, overnight at Hotel in Tromso. Evening Briefing – your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, before going on to discuss the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our plans. We’ll have maps and information on the area to show you, so if you’ve any further questions or last minute requests, then this is the ideal time to bring them up.
AM Drive to Senja Island, taking in a day tour on the island en route.
Skiing from the Door
You don’t have to go far to find good touring on Senja, as there is great skiing all over the Island.
A good option on the first day, is to go for a tour right behind the Lodge – where there are a number of possible cols and summits to explore in the cirque behind the village.
Non of these are overly long, so there’s time to do a transceiver training session en route and sort any kit issues – but the descents are all north facing and quite sheltered, so often hold good snow.
Sunday to Thursday
Ski touring on Senja – a wide variety of day tours are on offer from summit to sea descents, scenic classics, longer link ups and steeper lines as appropriate. Outings are selected to cater for group interest, ski ability and the current snow and weather conditions. Some summits involve boot tracking to reach the highest point. The scenery on the island is outstanding.
Summit to Sea Descents
One of the unique things about skiing on coastal islands in the Arctic, is the ability to ski right down to the sea.
The summit to sea descents on Senja Island are some of the best in Northern Norway – with a number of excellent tours that finish right at the beach.
The first time you ski down to the sea on one of these arctic islands, it just does not compute – being able to smell seaweed whilst standing on a pair of skis feels very odd at first, but you soon get used to it!
At the end of a long day, standing on a beach with skis shouldered whilst watching the sun set over the arctic ocean, is one of those sublime moments in life that you never forget.
Perfect Powder Slopes
One of our favourite tours lies at the far end of the island, where a 900m north facing slope rises at a perfect ski angle straight from the sea.
It’s a great drive down across the island to get there, passing through numerous fjords and tunnels down the west coast, before heading inland and eventually back out to the sea again on the south side of Senja.
The tour starts right at the sea – naturally – with a bit of route finding up through the woods to reach open ground. Above, the climb is long, but never extreme and we usually break it at a good, half way lunch spot. Above, the slope continues to an excellent summit ridge with superb views in all directions.
Then finally comes the descent, which is a series of long open pitches leading down the entire mountain right to the beach. In good conditions, it really doesn’t get much better…
Senja is often called ‘Norway in Miniature’ due to the wide variety of scenery on the Island – so it comes as no surprise that there are steeper, more technical peaks that require climbing on foot to reach the summit.
These vary in difficulty and commitment, but there are several tours with sections of climbing on foot on the way up and top notch skiing on the way down – ie a winning combination!
Some of these require short boot tracks to overcome tricky sections that can be descended via a different route on skis, whereas others require a ski depot and ice axe and crampons to reach the summit.
We choose tours of this style to fit the current snow conditions and ability level of the group.
Arctic Tree Skiing
Birch trees grow on the island to an altitude of about 400m and sometimes a little higher in sheltered locations.
Near the sea, these are often very dense and you need to know which areas are ok visit, but higher up they are generally more open and well spread apart.
The forests often hold great snow and are an excellent place to ski – on Senja in particular, it’s possible to access good tree skiing in almost all weather conditions, which isn’t the case on many islands in Northern Norway.
Many of the best locations are either inland at slightly higher altitudes, or tucked away in deep fjords or cwms which offer shelter from the wind, so that the snow stays in better condition.
The north end of the Island is home to 3 long peninsulas, sticking out into the sea like a giant hand.
These are all covered in jagged peaks and separated by deep fjords – making the scenery very dramatic.
As a result, the summit views in this area are some of the best in Norway and the opportunities for photography are brilliant.
Many of our guests are keen photographers as well as skiers, so we often visit great locations for both ski and landscape shots – you only have to look at the photos taken around the island on our various trip reports to see how good the scenery is!
The Aurora Borealis – or Northern Lights – are one of the elusive, magical sights of the Arctic.
There are plenty of good, dark locations to view and photograph the Northern Lights just a couple of hundred yards from our accommodation. Don’t forget to bring a warm down jacket, as it gets very chilly on a clear, cold night!
Caused by high energy particles from the Sun interacting with Earth’s magnetic field, they are most likely to occur in the first part of the night in the northern half of the sky.
Nowadays there are Aurora forecasts available on the internet, in order to increase your chances of witnessing this unearthly natural phenomenon.
Thursday PM – Drive back to mainland, overnight at Hotel in Tromso.
Short taxi ride to Tromso airport, flights home.
Your meeting point for this trip is Tromso (TOS), the ‘Paris of the North’ situated on the NW coast of Arctic Norway in the Troms region. Tromso is a lively city and forms for gateway to many superb ski regions including Senja, Arnoya and the Lyngen Alps.
The most convenient way to reach Senja is fly to Oslo, with connecting flights on to Tromso airport (same airline). For transfer to Senja and travel during the trip, your guide will transport the team in a 9 seater minibus.
Senja Week 1
Your guide will collect you from Tromso airport at 19.30 on Friday 1st March 2019, return to airport by taxi the following Friday morning 8th March 2019.
Senja Week 2
Your guide will collect you from Tromso airport at 19.30 on Friday 8th March 2019, return to airport by taxi the following Friday morning 15th March 2019.
Norwegian offer various flights from the UK, including London Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh, all via Oslo and arriving in Tromso at 19.05 (and one direct Gatwick flight arriving at 18.50). SAS fly from Aberdeen, arriving in Tromso at 15.40. Check Sky Scanner for your best option.
Further information and travel links can be found on our Travel Planning page.
If you need to top up your fitness for this trip, please see our training guidelines.
NB All of our trips are 100% off piste/backcountry skiing, so the following descriptions refer to your off piste ski ability, not your piste skiing ability (on a typical 1-10 piste skiing scale, level 7-10 = level 1-2 on our off piste scale – ie it’s a different ball game!)
Please make a self assessment against these levels, and refer to the trip requirements. These are based on what types of snow and conditions you can confidently do regular linked turns in – and just as importantly, what conditions you begin to struggle in. (By ‘linked turns’ we mean skiing confidently and in control, moving from one turn into the next without traversing in between – just ‘getting down it’ or survival skiing doesn’t count here!)
Tech Level 1
Intro Off Piste Skier (Advanced Piste Skier). You cruise reds, black runs are challenging but fun and have ventured off piste with varying degrees of success (ie deep snow is still something of a mystery…) *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Red – Aspirer*
Likely to say: ‘I’d love to learn how to ski well off piste and/or try ski touring’
Our Advice: Definitely go on an Off Piste Skiing Course to improve your ski technique first, before trying ski touring – you’ll get a lot more out of it that way around!
Tech Level 2
Improving Off Piste Skier. You enjoy black runs and the kind of tracked out off piste terrain found around many big resorts, but you haven’t skied too much in properly deep snow without a base to it yet. *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Silver – Intermediate*
Likely to say: ‘I’d like to ski well in powder/link lots of short radius turns/go ski touring’
Our Advice: An Off Piste Skiing Course is highly recommended. If you’d like to try ski touring, then do either an intro ski touring course or an intro level ski tour.
Tech Level 3
Confirmed Off Piste Skier. You can put down a reasonable set of tracks in powder, but difficult snow types – eg heavy wet snow, crusts, poor visibility or 40dg slopes – can all cause problems (though you can cope with them safely, if not elegantly!) *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Purple – Advanced*
Likely to say: ‘I’d like to handle difficult snow/steep slopes more confidently in better style’
Our Advice: Off piste coaching still useful. Intermediate off piste weeks are at your level too. If you want to get into ski touring, try a touring course or intro level ski tour. If you’re an established ski mountaineer, then intermediate level tours are generally suitable.
Tech Level 4
Advanced Off Piste Skier. You can put turns in through heavier snow and on icy 40dg slopes, but difficult breakable crusts and skiing a fresh track off piste in zero visibility are still somewhat challenging! *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Gold – Expert*
Likely to say: I’ve been skiing ten/twenty years – I’d like to do your ‘……’ tour.
Our Advice: You will enjoy our advanced level trips. If you are new to touring – then you could do a Haute Route with two or three days of skills training beforehand (but don’t overlook the physical fitness needed as well). Mileage is the best way to improve your ability level.
Tech Level 5
Expert Off Piste Skier. You can ski all snow types including crusts in control and are happy on slopes of 45dg or when putting in a fresh track in zero vis. *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Gold – Expert*
Likely to say: ‘Bring it on…’
Our Advice: Stay strong – and may the force be with you… Advanced level trips and ski expeditions are the way forward.
Please make a self assessment against these levels, and refer to the trip requirements. These are cardiovascular (CV) fitness and activity levels eg. running, cycling, hillwalking or competitive sports that get your heart and lungs working for extended periods of time (not strength training in the gym!). They include mountaineering fitness and ski fitness benchmarks for context.
Fitness Level 1
You do 1-2 hours of cardiovascular training/sport per week. On foot: you should be able to climb Snowdon from Pen y Pas in around 2 hrs carrying a day sack, or Bow Fell starting from Langdale in the Lake District in about 2 1/2 hrs. On skis: you are happy piste skiing all day with just the odd break for food and drink, but would struggle to ski off piste all day without finishing up very tired for the following day.
Fitness Level 2
You do 2-3 hours cv training/sport per week. At this level you should be happy doing either a 3-4 hr hillwalk, cycling 30 miles or mountain biking 2-3 hours without being exhausted. On foot: you should be able to walk from Ogwen Cottage in North Wales up Glyder Fach – Glyder Fawr – Y Garn – Ogwen in ~5hrs. Or in the Lake District Langdale – Bowfell – Esk Pike – Angle Tarn – Langdale in ~ 6hrs. On skis: you are capable of off piste skiing all day or doing a couple of hours skinning with out finishing up exhausted – ie you can do this for a number of days without taking a rest day.
Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours cv training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hr hillwalk, 50ml cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. On foot: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted. On skis: you can skin uphill at 300m/hr for 3-4 hrs a day (ie 8-1200m of ascent each day).
Fitness Level 4
You do 4+ hours CV training/sport per week. A 70+ mile cycle ride, or 20+ mile hillwalk on a weekend would hold no fears. If so inclined, you might be the kind of person who has done longer road sportives/challenge rides, a ~3.30hr marathon or other similar endurance events. Keen hillwalkers who happily knock off 3-4+ munros in a day also have this kind of fitness and endurance. On skis: you can skin at 400m/hr or could handle 4-6hrs skinning a day. (ie 1000-1400m+ of ascent each day).
Fitness Level 5
You do 5-6+ hours training for competitive sport per week, have a background in the same, or you are annoyingly talented! Either way, doing a 100 ml bike ride or about a 3hr marathon wouldn’t be unreasonable. On skis: you are happy skinning at over 400m/hr or could skin all day if neccesary (ie 1400m+ days).
Please be realistic in your assessment, and remember you need both the required fitness level and ski ability level in order to enjoy any given trip – it doesn’t matter how fit you are, if you can’t ski well enough you won’t keep up on the descents – and vica versa on the ascents! If your fitness or skills are in doubt there is a risk you could be excluded from an activity or required to leave the tour, if your participation could risk the safety, success or enjoyment of the rest of the party.
Day Touring/BC Ski Course Equipment List
Just remember, every extra kilo on your back knocks 10% off your enjoyment on the descents – so try and keep the weight down!
- Waterproof Jacket – preferably lightweight and breathable
- Overtrousers/ski pants – preferably with side zips
- Fleece mid layer or equivalent
- Spare fleece or lightweight insulated duvet jacket
- Socks – specialist ski socks or a warm loop lined pair of mountain socks
- Wicking thermal top – not cotton please…
- Thermal leggings or ski pants
- Thin inner gloves
- Warm ski gloves or mittens, if you suffer from cold hands
- Warm hat
- Water container – at least 1 litre
- Personal medications and blister kit – regular meds, zinc oxide tape, compeed and painkillers etc
- Ski goggles
- Sun glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Wallet, passport and insurance docs
- Rucsac 25/35l – try and avoid ones covered in too many features, just ski and ice axe attachments required
- Freeride boots or ski mountaineering boots – check detailed factsheet kit list for preferred boots
- Skis with touring bindings – check detailed factsheet kit list for preferred skis and bindings
- Velcro ski strap – to keep skis together on your rucksack if we need to carry them
- Ski poles – with good size 5cm+ baskets (telescopic poles are not needed)
- Climbing skins – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Harscheisen (ski crampons) – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Metal snow shovel – must be a full metal shovel (plastic blades don’t work in real avalanche debris!)
- Avalanche probe
- Avalanche transceiver – must be a modern digital model (older analogue models are now obsolete)
- Harness, with 120cm sling and locking karabiner
- Crampons – bring them if you have them
- Ice Axe – bring if you have one
Your guide will have all other safety kit, first aid and survival equipment.
Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website, where we publish an annual review of the years best new skis, boots and touring equipment, plus a range of other interesting tips and recommendations. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!
Backcountry UK in Ilkley offer an excellent ski boot fitting service, one of the best ranges of ski mountaineering equipment in the UK and top notch advice.
Please visit our Equipment Hire page for recommended hire shops in your resort, and Alpine Guides hire equipment price list.
For this trip you must have specialist travel insurance providing medical, emergency search/rescue and repatriation cover for the following activities: off piste skiing and ski touring in glaciated areas requiring the use of ropes, up to 5000m altitude. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury.
Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.
Insurance for UK residents
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This gives you reciprocal health care in European countries. You can apply for an EHIC card online here or from most Post Offices. You need an EHIC in addition to your travel insurance.
European residents (non-UK)
Austrian Alpine Club. Available to all European residents. AAC insurance is cheap and works ok for minor accidents and rescues, but is not as comprehensive as many other insurance providers. The medical cover included would not be enough for complex treatment or a prolonged stay in hospital. It also doesn’t include cancellation cover. If you choose to use AAC we recommend you take out extra medical cover with another provider, to ‘top up’ the AAC medical limit, as well as a separate cancellation policy.
Travelex. For US citizens – a range of policies with comprehensive cover.
For any nationality
Global Rescue. Cover offered to all nationalities via a combination of GR membership and their separate insurance policy.
If you choose an alternative provider, or if there is any doubt about the scope of your chosen policy we recommend that you send your insurer the link to the relevant Alpine Guides trip webpage, and ask them if cover extends to those activities and has the required components (search/rescue, medical, repatriation and cancellation). It’s worth mentioning that rescue and medical expenses in Switzerland can be significantly more expensive than in other countries, so a decent level of cover is required for Swiss tours.
We recommend that you send us your insurance details before the trip commences, and they must be brought to the course briefing at the start of your trip. However, we cannot check the detail of every individual policy, and it is your own responsibility to ensure you are adequately insured.
What happens to my deposit if I book a trip, but it isn’t confirmed to run due to insufficient bookings?
You may transfer your booking to different dates, a different course, or choose a full refund.
What happens if the weather or snow conditions are poor, or the avalanche risk is high?
We will make every effort to stick to the itinerary, but sometimes its necessary to change plans and ski in a neighbouring area or even further afield. Many of our itineraries are designed with flexibility in mind, and it’s usually possible to ski in most conditions with some careful alternative planning.
Does Alpine Guides ski with customers from overseas, including the USA and Canada?
Who goes on our trips?
We climb and ski with a broad range of ages and experience levels, and a large number of our customers come back year after year. We’ve guided 10 year old Ollie up the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland – now the youngest person to climb it. And 70 year old David has climbed the Matterhorn with us, as well as out-skiing people half his age!
How do I book a ski trip?
For scheduled ski trips it’s easy to book online, directly from your course page. For hire a guide/bespoke courses please get in touch for a quote.
Is there an age limit on any of our ski trips?
Under 18’s must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. There is no upper age limit, but please get in touch to discuss suitability if you are concerned about your age, with regard to fitness and pace.
How do I rent ski equipment?
You can rent certain items of specialist equipment from us, and the rest can usually be hired in resort.
What happens if I need to cancel my course?
If you wish to cancel you must notify us in writing, where upon the following charges will be applied from the date we receive your notice of cancellation:
- More than 8 weeks (56 days) before start date – loss of deposit.
- Between 4 and 8 weeks (28-56 days) before start date – 50% of course fee or loss of deposit, whichever amount is greater.
- Less than 4 weeks (28 days) before start date – full course fee.
Can I book a single room on my ski trip?
Yes – this can be done during the online booking process. Please add the single room option to your order, and we will confirm availability asap.