Hemsedal – or the Nordic Alps as it is also called – is without doubt the best nordic ski destination we have ever tried. If you go all the way to the top, you have long rides all the way to the bottom of the valley, from where you can choose slopes on in all directions.
Hemsedal is about 200 kilometers north of Oslo, which is a good three hours ride because of the speed limits in Norway, but hey – we have no problems in going slow and easy, we even save a lot on gas. When we go on skiing holidays we find it nice to arrive early on our first, otherwise we lose a lot of time on the slopes, and for that we often leave a day ahead, and find a small hotel near the destination. That way we can get an early start almost when the lifts opens.
It was not like we knew Hemsedal and wanted to go there, but we got a great deal on a hotel room on Skogstad Hotel with half board and lift passes for four people in five days, and when it comes to skiing holidays, I am cheap. Being a family of five is extremely expensive as almost all the good travel deals is based on four member families, why we have found ways around that problem. For instance we choose an area we want to go to and then we just wait for a good deal. For skiing holidays we are not that picky – here an area can be Norway, Sweden or even Scandinavia. That way we get to see a lot of places we did not know about.
Hemsedal is not much if you come to have a good time after a long day in the snow. There is a couple of kilometers from the slopes to the “city center,” which is one main road with hotels, shops, gas stations and ski rentals. Nothing much is going on here. I guess that is a reason why we did not see large groups of young loud people.
The boring city live was not a problem for us. When we only have five days we tend to focus on eating breakfast, being out on the slopes all day, go back to the hotel for a snack while we rest, get in the restaurant to get supper and then some more resting before we go to sleep. Going out in Norway would be terrible expensive anyway.
THE SKI AREA
To get to the ski area we drove a few kilometers up the road, that passes through Hemsdal. Here we came to a big parking lot, and even though we came in one of the big school holidays, there were no problem getting a space. We rented our ski equipment near our hotel in the village, they did not have a helmet that fit our youngest boy in size, but that was not a problem as the helmets seemed to belong to everybody, we could just go to the ski rental at the resort and take one in a big box – very smart.
From the Arrival Center as I think it was called where the shops and ski rental was, we took the Holvin Express up in the slopes and man – was that great. Big wide pistes. Long runs from the top. An incredible laid back easy skiing feeling came over us, as the general degree of difficulty was on the light side. A lot of green and blue pistes, many red and a few blacks, one of them with humps, just to shake us a little bit. Here everything was about enjoying the turns and the smooth surface and not hunting the next difficult way down.
It was somehow similar to my experience at the Hintertux glazier in Austria – other wise beyond comparison.
The typical nordic ski destinations is build on one side of a hill- or fell side, making it very long stretched out area where you have a lot of transportation slopes going across the actual pistes to get from one end to the other. Hemsedal was nothing like that. More like they do it in the Alps where the slopes are placed on a number of mountain tops surrounding a valley. That way we always had a total view of the area, making it a lot bigger to the eye.
Other benefits from this type of area was that we did not constantly have skiers crossing the pistes, on their way to next adjacent piste, and we were able to choose a slope with sun or shade after our own wishes.
HEMSEDAL ROUND UP
Hemsedal is very recomendable for family tours. We were here with two older children, and there were challenges for everybody – we do both skies and snowboard. There was a big area for small kids and a snowboard park which we were told is considered one of the most popular in Norway.
We were there for five days, and even though we always hate to go home, it seemed like five days suited the relatively small area fine.
FACTS ON HEMSEDAL
One area the alps style with slopes surrounding a valley – not the normal nordic way.
48 pistes, green 22, blue 11, red 10, black 5
Lifts, drag lifts 14, chair lifts 6, children’s lifts 6
Link to the official site http://www.hemsedal.com/no/Aktiviteter/Vinteraktiviteter/