The Romsdalen Valley, splitboarder’s paradise

Isfjorden lies in the Romsdalen valley, and that’s where I decided to move once I’d taken the decision to leave Oslo, after having lived in the “big city” for too long and having spent to much time on my car to get to the good mountains and the good snow. There’s a great amount of both in Isfjorden, and it’s close by – there’s actually no need of a car to get to many of the well-known peaks. The Romsdalen area is the only touring area in Norway with a proper avalanche forecast, released 2 or 3 times per week. It’s a valuable tool to decide which peak to hit, or when to call it a down day.

View from my parking lot.

Isfjorden

Neighbouring Åndalsnes, a larger town, Isfjorden has a population of 1200 inhabitants and it’s well known for its alpine terrain and vast number of skiable peaks. Some call it Norway’s Chamonix.
Isfjorden lies at the east end of a small fjord with the same name, connected to the larger Romsdalsfjord. Further north lies Molde, one of the main towns in the area and the closest major airport. All in all, the Isfjorden area is a mecca for any mountain addict. What makes it especially interesting for splitboarders is the ease of access to many of the peaks in the area. Most of the mountains are 5-15 minutes by car from “downtown” Isfjorden, and the run pretty much starts and ends at the parking lot. No flat spots!
Most runs start at sea-level or just above, and go up to 1200-1500 metres, which means they vary from steep alpine snowboarding to mellow, wide open bowls and tree runs at the bottom. The mountain also accommodates splitboarders of all levels – 50+degree couloirs are as easily found as mellow 25-degree bowl runs.

Most runs start at sea-level or just above, and go up to 1200-1500 metres.

One of the mountains in the area.

Other mountains in the area

West of Romsdalen lies Sunnmøre, an area of incredible mountains and fjords with endless splitboarding opportunities. South of Isfjorden lies Romsdalen valley, which leads out of the jagged western Norway and up to the flatter terrain in the east. 20 minutes by car from Isfjorden lies the impressive Troll Wall, the tallest vertical rock face in Europe. The Troll Wall is a historic spot for base jumpers, but has been closed for base jumpers since 1986 because of numerous deaths. Kirketaket (The Church Roof) may be the bestknown touring mountain in Norway. Skinning up is quite easy in good conditions, and the mountain’s south face offers an even 30-degree pitch almost from the top to the bottom of the run. Mind you…

Isfjorden is generally colder than other areas closer to the coast out west.

Snortungen, seen from Galtåtind. Also within easy reach from downtown Isfjorden.

Climate

Isfjorden is generally colder than other areas closer to the coast out west. The snowpack is a mix of coastal and alpine snow, which generally makes it less affected by avalanches than areas further inland. Isfjorden gets snow from low pressures coming from the west or northwest. Although other areas in Norway such as Røldal, Voss and Sogndal generally get more snow, there is seldom any reason to complain – more often than not there’s snow coming only a few days away.

Skarven (Skorgedalen), taken from the skin up to Smørbottfjell.

Lodging

Isfjorden and Åndalsnes gets a lot of tourists in summer, which means that there are lots of options for cheap lodging during winter. The newly opened Romsdalen Lodge is a good option to explore the mountains around Isfjorden, located just on the trailhead to the mountains on the north side of town, such as Galtåtind, IsfjordSkarven, Kirketaket and many others.