Hafjell lower slopes (click to enlarge)With a base height of only 200m and a top lift at about 1000m Hafjell did not sound too promising but I was pleasantly surprised. The latitude, two hours drive north from Oslo's Gardermoen airport, means that there is normally plenty of snow despite the low altitude. A recent snowfall and persistent cold temperatures meant that conditions were very good last weekend when I was there.

Norway is expensive. Everything: accommodation, travel, lift passes and, especially, beer is pricey but I was adding a couple of days on to the end of a business trip so it seemed like a good opportunity and at least the travel was taken care of.

The resort is a 15 minute (read 25) taxi ride from Lillehammer which is well served by train directly from Oslo airport. The town is very proud of its Olympic heritage having hosted the Winter Games in 1994. Hafjell itself was the site of the Slalom events (snowboarding, you will recall, did not make the schedule until the 1998 games in Nagano). It was also due to host the womens' downhill event but the competitors complained that the slope was not steep enough and the event was moved to nearby Kvitfjell and run on the same course as the mens' downhill.

The ski area does not look that promising when you arrive with only the lower half of a couple of runs visible but higher up there is a decent amount of terrain served by three quad chair lifts and four main T-bars. The runs coming off the chairs get quite busy at the weekends but by enduring the drag lifts you can access some lovely tree lined runs with virtually no one else to get in your way.

Few of the runs could be described as challenging and there appeared to be limited off piste opportunities (plenty of cross country trails of course). Most of the terrain comprises well groomed wide gentle slopes which are perfect for high speed carving.

The "resort" has very few restaurants, bars or shops but it does have scope for lots of other winter activities, the main one being cross country skiing (we also took in a bob sleigh ride at the Olympic track on the other side of the valley).

Its not a place you would go for a ski holiday although it certainly is worthwhile for a weekend if you are in Oslo or nearby.

16 February 2005 Permalink
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