Geilo ski resort
Once known as, ‘The St Moritz of the North’, Norway’s Geilo ski resort, has been a popular tourist destination since the late 19th century.
Geilo’s skiing really took off in the early 1950s when the first ski lifts were installed. This was the resort’s heyday, when international tourists were drawn by cheap prices and quality powder. Although in recent decades other resorts have surpassed it in terms of the extent of its slopes, there are, none-the-less, a great selection of descents here for all ability levels, from young children to top-level alpinists.
The resort’s well-prepared terrain parks also provide excellent opportunities for snowboarding. In addition, there are 550km (137 miles) of trails for those who prefer cross-country skiing; while the kite-skiing conditions are among the best in the world.
Aesthetically, Geilo is a very pleasant resort, emphasised by its title as a ‘National Park Village’, due to its close proximity to the large national parks of Hardangervidda and Hallingskarvet. It is also easily accessible, located halfway along the main route between Norway’s two largest cities, Oslo and Bergen.
The ‘St Moritz of the North’ it may not be, but quality skiing can still be found at Geilo.
Geilo is situated in the mountain region of Hallingdal, in south-central Norway’s Buskerud County. It is overlooked by the Hallingskarvet mountain range (the highest peak is the 1,933m/6,342ft Folarskardnuten) and bordered by Hardangervidda, the largest mountain plateau in Northern Europe.
On the slopes
Geilo’s slopes cover the mountains on both sides of the town, which sits in the bottom of the Hallingdal valley. The two sides of the valley are not ski- or lift-linked, so skiers must use the shuttle bus to travel between them, but all the slopes on each side are handily interlinked by lifts and runs criss-crossing the hillsides.
The region can be broken down into roughly 10 different ski areas.
Geiloheisen is one of the largest of these sub-regions, and is linked to the town centre, with a mix of terrain as well as a childrens’ area and snowpark. Havsdalen, situated a little further up the slopes on the same side, boasts one of the longest toboggan slopes in Norway, as well as a terrain park with jumps and rails.
The Vestlia sector across the valley has four lifts, runs for all standards and another snowpark with blue, green, red and black lines.
Most of the slopes in the resort are wide and comfortable even for inexperienced skiers, and all the runs are extremely well-prepared and maintained. The lifts here are new, modern and comfortable.
Geilo is also one of Scandinavia’s leading destinations for snowboarders and freestyle skiers: there are four excellent terrain parks and a halfpipe. Additionally, night skiing is available on six floodlit runs.
There is usually plenty of snow throughout the season, although snow cannons are used to build up the base early in the season in case snowfall is insufficient. The ski season in Geilo runs from November until April.
Several ski schools offer instruction in alpine skiing, telemarking and cross-country skiing, and a number of outlets provide ski hire.