Couple summit skiing

Alpine ski touring

Swedish mountains offer excellent conditions for alpine ski touring. Combine the challenge of climbing a mountain with the rush of skiing downhill in untouched, off-piste terrain and choose your own path, both up and down. STFs mountain stations, such as Abisko, Sylarna, Helags, Storulvån, and Kebnekaise, are located close to some of Sweden's most breathtaking alpine ski touring areas.

What does an alpine ski tour involve?

A alpine ski tour, or “radonnée,” involves ascending a mountain with the help of skis or a splitboard. Using climbing skins attached to the skis, you can walk uphill without the risk of sliding backwards. When you finally reach the summit of the mountain, you remove the climbing skins, leaving you with only a fantastic descent in (hopefully) untouched powder snow. If you haven’t done alpine ski touring before, we recommend starting with a course or guided ski tour, as there can be a risk of avalanches in some cases. You need to be confident navigating the mountain and have a good understanding of avalanches, including avalanche equipment. STF’s mountain stations offer courses for both beginners and experienced ski mountaineers.

The right of public access

Swedish mountains are open to all. If you want to reach the summit, the only obstacles are your energy and motivation. However, there are some things worth keeping in mind.

often requires slightly more consideration. In areas with reindeer husbandry, for example, you should keep dogs on a leash at all times of the year. At higher elevations with deep snow, it is possible to ski everywhere without any risk of damaging sensitive land. The only thing to remember is that you must not break off any branches or damage snow-free rock slabs.

The mountains are home to many national parks and nature reserves, where the right of public access is sometimes extended and sometimes restricted. This may mean, for example, that it is forbidden to light fires or take a dog with you. In some places, camping is forbidden, while in others, the allowed duration of a camping stay is longer than what is permitted outside of the national parks. STF hosts at our mountain stations will be happy to help you with information about the regulations that apply.

If you stop for a break, have a good look around before continuing to make sure that you haven’t left any rubbish.

Tips for alpine ski touring

  • Choose the right skis for your tour. Ski equipment comes in various brands, features, and designs. Consider renting so that you know it’s tailored for the activity. Most mountain stations offer equipment rentals, and as an STF member, you can often get a discount on rentals.  It is important to wear a helmet when alpine ski touring as it is for all types of skiing. Make sure that all members of the group have a set of safety equipment.
  • You’ll need a backpack with a capacity of 35-45 liters. In it, pack a map, compass, a first aid kit, sunscreen as well as safety equipment like a transceiver, shovel, avalanche probe, helmet, and windproof sack.
  • Dress in layers and avoid overdressing when you set out because you’ll quickly warm up going uphill. Choose base layers and socks made of wool or synthetic materials to stay warm even when sweating. Over the base layer (and possibly a sweater), wear your transceiver. Shell garments protect against the sun and wind while allowing mobility, but pack warmer insulation clothing in down or fleece to put on when taking breaks on the mountain. A neck gaiter (buff) is handy to have around your neck or head. Protect your eyes with sunglasses or ski goggles.
  • Bring a bigger supply of food and drinks than you might use, just in case of an emergency.
  • It’s crucial to plan your trip well before setting off. Really consider your and your group’s abilities and experience. Avoid going on tours alone and leave a travel itinerary so someone knows your destination, departure time, and estimated return time.
  • Stay updated on reindeer herding activities in the area you’re in. In late winter, reindeer migrate to their summer grazing areas, so be careful not to disturb the reindeer herds. Also, ensure there’s a sufficient snow cover to prevent damaging sensitive ground when skiing.
  • Mountain weather can change rapidly. Always check the weather forecast one more time before heading out. It’s essential to be aware of avalanche forecasts, navigation, and to have a good understanding of avalanche safety equipment.
  • For those who typically snowboard, consider using a splitboard as an alternative. Instead of regular ski touring skis, you can choose this board, which can be split in the middle. This way, you have touring skis for the ascent and can assemble them into a single board for the descent.

More information

The Mountain Safety Council of Sweden has a website with useful practical advice about keeping safe in the mountains.

If you want to know more about alpine ski touring, or want to find new exciting summits, consider taking one of the many guided summit tours offered by STF.

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