Røldal – The deepest snow in Europe, that is what an old folder from the tourist information said, but is it true?
The powder forecast predicted a 50cm of powder, time to pack everything together and Røldal it was going to be.
After waking up from my first night of winter camping, it was time to gear up and ski down to the lifts. At the parking I met Christian and Ole, who were gearing up for ski touring and asked if I could join them and that wasn't a problem. We discussed where we wanted to go and we skinned up. The slopes weren't groomed yet, so we decided to ski between the lifts, since it was a foggy and sometimes snowing, so the lifts would give us some contours. After changing from ascend- to descend modus we started skiing. We skied carefully because of the flat light and the presence of large patches of crust snow. Once we were halfway down the visibility cleared and it was time to throttle up. To end with Christians words: ‘det var konge' which would translate into ´it was awesome´. We decided to meet up at 5pm again because the ski area opened up for night skiing until 8pm.
After 1.5 hour of night skiing, I took a break, because it was the first real skiing day of the year and my first day of ski touring ever, so my legs were too exhausted to keep up with Christian and Ole.
During my break, I met Asgeir and Ragni. They went off again after a couple minutes and asked if I´d join them for the last hour of skiing that evening and I did. We skied until the lifts closed, we discussed our plans for tomorrow and then it was time to go back to the tent for some sleep and to let my legs rest, since they had no strength left.
The next day we met at the parking lot, geared up and did our beacon check. We discussed where we wanted to go and where it would be safe to go. We skinned up and after almost an hour of skinning we came by a big rock where we decided to have lunch, with a view! After lunch Asgeir dug a snowpit and checked the snow conditions, while we talked some more about the conditions, the line we would ski and safespots where we would wait for each other (where they would wait for me…).
After my good experience, and motivating stories, my friends decided to rent a cabin in Røldal for the weekend and asked if I would join. With about 30 cm of snow predicted, it wasn´t a hard question to answer. We left Stavanger on Thursday and planned to go skiing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday we skinned up two times, but the conditions weren´t favourable, 5cm of fresh snow and a lot of wind resulting in crust snow and poor visibility, so we called it a day at 1 o´clock. We chilled a little at the cabin and it was constantly snowing. After discussing, to go either evening skiing on Friday or skiing during the day on Saturday, we decided to do the evening skiing, since it was cheaper per hour and we thought it was going to be less crowded. We skied all the 4 hours with good visibility and somewhat 25 cm of powder and sometimes the icy crust snow and sastrugi´s underneath. We left all the cameras at home, because we had low expectations, so we missed a lot of good footage.
Saturday we did four relatively long ski tours and we saw from one of our tours, that the slope where we left our marks with evening skiing with about 8 people, was now being skied by 30-40 people at the same time. We knew we made the right decision to go skiing on Friday evening and for the Saturday area, since there were only 4 other people on the surrounding slopes. This time we had the camera with us, so here is a small edit from the Saturday.
It hasn't been the deepest snow I've ever skied, but it was almost snowing non-stop both of the times I visited. The type of snow was new to me; it consists of really small and light snowflakes, which create perfect ski conditions, but it also means that it needs to snow a long time before reaching a descent amount of snowfall compared to what I'm used to in the alps.
Their average snowfall is 4,5 till 6 meter a year (a quote from the lift company). The Friday-area (marked with purple) is one that get's tracked immediately during and after the dump, so not your go to slope a few days after the last snowfall. If you go touring the Saturday-area (left from the green arrow (after the big cliff face in real life)) is a good alternative, although some skiers hike from the top of the lift over the ridge to ski the same run. However, there are many variations to be ridden in that area, but be careful, since the forest has some 4-meter drops and frozen streams with some 2/3m high icefalls and ice under the snow.