World-Class Destination for Snowkiting
I have had the chance to go to Norway in 2015, 2016, and 2017. It’s now a tradition. Even if I have only explored the Hardangervidda Mountain plateau, I never get tired of this place. I can always discover new spots, go deeper in the plateau, or hunt for a waffle house.
Hardangervidda is a National Park that has 3,422km2 of rideable terrain (according to Haugastøl). It seems that it is the largest plateau in Europe. From endless flats, deep valleys, small hills to steep mountains, every level of kiter can find something for his style. The advanced riders will enjoy the very steep mountains on low wind days for perfect gliding conditions, while the beginners will find the flat areas perfect for learning new skills.
My daily routine is to have a traditional breakfast around 8 am (usually made with fresh bread, cheese, and meat), and pack a “traditional” sandwich for lunch. I then talk with the locals and discuss the best spot for the day. I get ready and hope to be kiting no later than 10 am (depending on the wind of course). Dinner is usually served around 7 pm, so after kiting, I take the time to dry my kites, text with my Canadian friends, and relax!
Kiting spots on the plateau
There are endless kite spots but usually, most tourists follow the forecast and end up sharing one or two main spots. All spots offer small parking areas and are easy to access (short walk in the snow). Don’t worry, there is space for every kiter! Here are the most common spots, or the ones I have tried so far.
This spot offers a very small area for kiting, and it is surrounded by fences and power lines. You can’t explore there. I tried once, and I gave up. The wind was very gusty, and the area is very small. Note that sometimes, it can be the only windy place on the plateau!
This is an easy and safe spot for beginners, and it’s possible to explore way more than just the set-up area. In 2018, I haven’t been once as the wind wasn’t showing up. This is the closest spot from Haugastøl that has so much to offer.
That was RedBull Ragnarok for the past 3 years. It’s one of my favorite spots as it reminds me of the competition and the thrill of being part of Ragnarok. You find everything there but be aware, there are some windless valleys! Make sure to explore the previous Ragnarok course with other people as you can experience very strong winds or none! Bring skins for your skis and have your GPS ready. If not, there is potential for getting in trouble. It almost happened to me and my friend this year when she ended up way overpowered and I had to tow her behind my harness to go back to the parking lot.
Behind Halne accommodation, you will find a very steep hill that offers very advanced riders a perfect spot for gliding. The opposite side of the road offers a flatter valley with endless kiting possibilities. I haven’t had the chance to ride there but people who stay at Halne can kite in front of their accommodation, which is a plus. This year, we toured up the mountain in search of some wind. We didn’t find any, but we snowboarded back to Halne. The view was spectacular.
This year (2018), the wind conditions were always calling for good kiting at Dyranut. There is so much to explore in the area, on both sides of the road. The only down part of it is the distance from Haugastøl to Dyranut.
- Secret Spot right after Dyranut
If the wind is not strong enough at Dyranut, keep driving for about 5km. There is a very steep hill that is possible to ride there. I have no clue of the name of the spot, but the locals called it their secret spot. I bet it’s not secret anymore!
Combining your snowkite trip in Norway with RedBull Ragnarok is a MUST. This is the biggest snowkite competition worldwide and tons of pro-riders are there just for the event. There is a great vibe and it’s a thrill to be part of this competition. Be aware that the registration is a sprint and it gets full in less than a minute or two, which happens around November. However, there is always some cancellation and if you are on-site, chances are that you might be able to get in. Consult my results here.
Where to stay?
Haugastølis the official venue of Red Bull Ragnarok. It is located just at the entrance of the plateau. The family that manages it is very friendly. Bjorn, the son of the owner, is a three-time winner of RedBull Ragnarok. He is the go-to guy if you have questions about the wind or snowkite tricks. I have always stayed there. Don’t expect to lose weight during your stay…the food there is exceptionally good and generous, and the desserts are to die for! You won’t resist.
- Dyranut& Halne
Those are two cute (smaller) places to stay, located directly on the plateau. The advantage is that you can snowkite right out the door. Super cozy and less crowded than Haugastol.
- Geilo and Ustaoset
Those two towns are closer to all the services; ideal for families or larger groups. More driving to get to kite spots. There are restaurants in Geilo if you want a break from the plateau. You can find a pizza place, bakery, coffee shop, traditional Norwegian food, etc.
I have been told that the best time to go is from February until the end of April; at that point, it is getting dark between 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. However, it’s still possible to snowkite in December and January. The temperature can vary vastly on the plateau. I have had -20 degrees, hard-packed snow, whiteout days, fresh snow, freezing rain. Just be prepared for any situation: bring hand warmers, warm clothes, thermos and make sure to bring extras.
On stormy days, expect poor visibility. You can kite but I personally don’t enjoy when I don’t know where I’m going and it’s a whiteout. On snowy days, the road on the plateau can close due to poor visibility, too much snow or wind. Most of the time you can still go but need to wait for the snow convoy and follow it from the kite spot. The wait can be from 1 min to 30min!
I have been lucky with the wind: 80% windy days. The non-windy days were almost mandatory as I probably needed a rest.
What to do during non-windy days or are there activities for non-kiters? You will be happy to know that there are tons of outdoor activities such as short and multi-day cross-country skiing trips, downhill skiing in Geilo; find Norwegian treasures in the multiple ski boutique in Geilo; explore the Fjord which is about 40-50min from Haugastol; rent some touring skis to climb uphill and ski downhill; borrow a pair of snowshoes and walk around Haugastol, or just relax at Haugastol and enjoy an afternoon coffee with some yummy traditional waffles.
How to get there
Haugastøl and the plateau are located between Oslo and Bergen. It takes 3 hrs from Oslo to get there and around 4hrs from Bergen. I usually rent a car because I have too much gear to carry around, but many kiters opt for the train. From Oslo airport, it’s very easy and convenient if you are staying at Haugostol. However, make sure to check the train schedule and plan if you arrive in the middle of the night with all your gear!
Enjoy Norway and snowkiting!!!!