Thursday, March 29, 2007

Heliski and giggling in Swedish Kittelfjäll

Last weekend I went to Kittelfjäll in northern Sweden with my three crazy and highly entertaining friends Eva, Henrik and Thomas. We had a blast!

We arrived by coach from Stockholm with a travel guide company called Active Ski after a long ride over night, with some interesting sleeping arrangements. During a stop to eat supper, all the seats in the bus were rearranged to form two long rows of bunk beds along the long sides of the bus. It was very intimate and cozy, as can be seen from the picture below…

Kittelfjäll is located in southern Lappland, about 130 km from Vilhelmina. It is generally perceived as one of the best offpist ski resorts in Sweden with its varying terrain with a mix of ravines, forest as well as clear-cut forest areas, corridors and drops, and of course the helicopter rides to surrounding mountain tops.

When we arrived to Kittelfjäll we had breakfast at the Kittel Hotel and then went heliskiing with the Kittel Guides. I heliskied twice last year and at the time had the good fortune of skiing after a whole day and night’s snowfall – which kept me smiling happily for days afterwards – but this time around there was rather little snow since it hadn’t snowed for weeks (too warm winter here just as in the Alps and Sierra Nevada, if you remember). We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather, though. The sun was shining, we had clear-blue skies and 6-8°C on the ground in Kittelfjäll and around freezing point up on Risfjäll and Marsfjäll where we were dropped down on three different spots and skied all the way down to the pick-up points. Our guide Magnus Nordström was the same as we skied with last year, a very nice and friendly guy who describes the ‘best runs’ down the mountain to the group of people he brings down and asks people to spread out so they don’t spoil each other’s snow. There is usually a mix of alpine skiers and snowboarders on these heliski trips. A number of photos below showcase the experience of the day (click on them to see the hi-res versions).

Hitting the slopes and making excuses for coffee breaks and a beer in the sun

Kittelfjäll only has four different lifts but none of them are very long, nor are the slopes very challenging. If you’re in decent shape you generally don’t have any problem skiing down in one go without stopping to catch your breath or rest your muscles. You definitely spend 4-5 times longer time in the lift than actually skiing. Given that there was so little snow this year, it didn’t make much sense to go offpist in one of the ravines to vary the skiing either. If you did you ran over rocks or twigs that the thin snow layer didn’t manage to cover. After every ten or less rides on the same slope(s), we therefore found it a legitimate excuse to visit the ‘Summit Cottage’ (Toppstugan) for a coffee, hot chocolate, waffles, chocolate cake or whatever presented, or having a beer on the hotel balcony terrace in the sun. We just enjoyed sitting talking and laughing hysterically at just about anything.

I don’t know if it was the general atmosphere in Kittelfjäll of all down-to-earth people who work and visit there, memories of fun episodes from last year’s trip, the general relaxation and fresh air, or the company that made us all so giggly, but we basically laughed constantly for 3.5 days.

Hilde and Rut, two cool chicks (not mine, I might add) coming along for the ride…

HiQ invasion and Pink Hink after ski band
In the late afternoons and later at night, a very popular and entertaining after-ski cover band with the creative name Pink Hink (“Pink Bucket”) was playing in the bar at the Kittel Hotel. This particular weekend, there were probably a hundred HiQ consultants from Stockholm in Kittelfjäll for conference and teambuilding activities. They actually brought their own band, The HiQ Experience, who altered on stage with Pink Hink. The HiQ Experience was what Swedes would call “hellre än bra”, which basically means that their willingness to play wildly exceeded their skills… The HiQ consultants nonetheless partied and danced like crazy, regardless of who played, so there was nothing wrong with the party mood of the pack and we all had great fun.

“My skis are stolen!” Eva exclaimed when she came out of our ski lodge on day two, and she went to call the rental shop in Stockholm and file a police report. A couple of stressful hours later she suddenly ‘discovered’ the supposedly stolen skis on the same spot she had left them the day before, i.e. before she entered the after ski party… She had not undertaken the same adventurous way of transporting our heavy luggage downhill to the ski lodge as Thomas and I did after the after-ski – see photo below…

Eva and I also ran into an old friend, Peter, from a ski trip to St. Anton six years ago, which of course brought up more skiing memories and topics for conversation and laughs. My friends Anneli & Bosse, who own the apartment in Engelberg where I skied in February (see blog posts 1 and 2), are now married as a result of meeting each other during that trip.

All in all, this was a great and fun ski trip to the north of Sweden. I am looking forward to the planned photo and video viewing evening with Eva, Henrik and Thomas, when the giggling will continue… :-)


Henrik Bornäs said...

Tjenare Mimmis,
Kittel har jag aldrig varit i. Det ser riktigt bra ut (snygga bilder från helikoptern)och ni verkade ha kul. Nu drar vi till fjällen och kör lite turåkning blandat med bräda och snowracer..laddar väl upp lite bilder om det blir tid. Hur hade du det i Orlando då? Det var "big and beautiful" antar jag? Ha det gott...kramar -Henrik-

Mimmis said...

Ligger lite efter i publiceringarna efter mina resor men har nu äntligen fått ut Orlando-trippen. Orlando var väldigt trevligt, kolla blogposten på

Henrik Hallin said...

Hejsan Mimmis!
Vad fina vi är! :)
Det var en sanlöst rolig helg även om det inte blev ngn smörgåstårta. ;)
Kramar Henke