What is ski & sail? My first epic Arctic adventure
We are often asked, “what the hell is a Ski & Sail trip?!”. Well, we asked one of our recent first-timers to give us a low down of what this unique adventure entails. Enjoy!
The alarm clock buzzes. I open my eyes to a cabin in complete darkness and an eerie silence has descended over the yacht. Snow now covers the hatch that I’d previously stared up through mesmerised by the dancing Northern Lights and ice has frozen that one loose halyard against the mast. Stone cold silence.
A kettle gently whistles, awakening the rest of the crew and we ready ourselves for the day ahead. After a round of hot drinks and a hearty breakfast, we grab our ski kit, load into the tender and motor ashore for what our local guides described as an “average” day ski & sail touring in Lofoten – but for me, it was the most epic day of adventure.
Once ashore, our skipper takes the tender back and prepares the yacht for sailing, and our ski guides go back over the plan for the day, pointing at the stunning mountain we’re at the foot of. With not a lift or a helicopter in sight, we attach the skins to our skis and start the 4hr assent through pure wilderness.
As we trek up through lines of young silver birches, the sun shines through the branches only to be backdropped by a bright blue sky. Turning through the woods, our summit comes into view. Trekking above the tree line, I focus on a little hut just shy of the summit. Step by step, as the hut inches closer the vista widens. Our reward for this trek is threefold: One – the views up here are mind-blowing, two – the 1,200m skiing decent back to the yacht looks beyond epic, and three – the “hut” turns out to be a sauna. Only a Nord would build a sauna right in the middle of nowhere!
The heat of the sauna loosens our tight calves and relaxes the mind. And then. What we’d all sailed and trekked all this way for. One epic ski back to the yacht. It is like no off-piste I’d ever experienced before – not that I’m particularly an experienced skier. I’m comfortable with the occasional black run, and when guided the odd resort bound off-piste, but here, in all this wilderness, I felt safe in the experienced hands of our ski guides. Back to what lay ahead; fresh lines, knee-deep powder and only my six other crewmates, and two ski guides in sight. Words do fail me at this point, so maybe my photo below will help.
Back on the yacht, it’s off with the ski gear and on with the sailing gear. We hoist the main, lift the anchor and unfurl the genoa to sail onto our next anchorage. Picking our way through rocky outcrops, the steep sides of the fjord towers above us, dwarfing our 50ft yacht. Gybing around a headland, we’re greeted by the sun shining down on the inlet that’s our destination for the night.
With the day’s light diminishing, we drop anchor, bundle back into the tender with a couple of fish we caught en route and set up a bonfire on the beach. Fuelled by a couple of beers, our fresh fish and an obligatory Akvavit, we reminisce today’s adventure. It’s certainly one to remember. After another Northern Light show, it’s back to my bunk to ready myself to create new Ski & Sail adventures tomorrow, and the day after that. In fact, for the next six days!