Ski & Sail expedition next to the North Pole!

Ski & Sail Svalbard, 7 days
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When we wrap up the ski season on the mainland, it continues in Svalbard. Where the snow is cold, the sun is back in full force, and the desolate landscape lies before us. With the midnight sun all night long and bustling wildlife. We will experience and explore raw nature, ski and use our bodies, and eat and drink well – that’s all. We take the dinghy ashore, put on our skis at the beach, climb up, ski down mountain sides almost no one has been before us. May is a fantastic month in Svalbard, and Ski & Sail is the best way to experience the archipelago!

The expedition feeling 

Just below the North Pole, we are sailing in the wilderness, endless areas without roads, buildings or civilization. We are far from people on a real expedition. Sailing day and night, in midnight sun, fog and snow, to find the most spectacular peaks along the west coast of Spitsbergen. Svalbard consists of a vast landscape, and long distances, both at sea and on land. And the reward is looking out over a wilderness of mountains, snow and ice from the top of some of the most beautiful and desolate mountains you will ever visit.

It is the feeling of being in unexplored areas we are hunting together. With poor maps, without phone coverage, and at the very edge of our modern civilization. We rarely find meters of powder snow in Svalbard, but if we are lucky we have good spring slush down to the fjord, and dry snow on the glaciers. What we can also experience is a rich wildlife, eternal views of untouched mountains and, not least, ice. In all formations: sea ice on which we can start the ski trip straight from the boat, to glacier fronts 100 meters, straight up from the fjord. 

Life on board a Ski & Sail expedition

On board we provide a skipper, crew and up to two ski guides; a team with good knowledge and experience from Svalbard. We plan the ski tours and sailing routes together according to weather and conditions. On this trip, we usually use a full day for sailing, to get to/from the good mountain areas. While the rest of the days are skiing days. We look at the weather and conditions, and if it’s windy and snowing one day, so the mountains don’t tempt us, we use that day for sailing. If anyone wants a resting day, that is also fine. After skiing during the full day, we sail on to the next anchorage and prepare for a new peak for the day after.

With varied groups on board

In Svalbard we mostly sail one boat at a time, but preferably with two ski groups onboard. We use one ski guide per 6 participants, and if there are several ski groups, we divide according to skill level, wishes and experience. We also often set up two different trips of different lengths per ski day. So you can choose whether you want to go on the long or short ski tour that day. With open groups, there will of course be a difference in experience level in the group, but we quickly become a good team on board and are all flexible!

 

A little less ambitious?

This trip is one of our more advanced Ski & Sail trips. If you are less experienced with ski touring, we recommend that you check out our trips in Lyngen or Lofoten:

  1. Ski & Sail Lyngen, 5 days
  2. Ski & Sail Lyngen, 7 days
  3. Ski & Sail Lofoten, 5 days

 

Blog articles

Check our blog articles from Ski & Sail trips.

 

Video clip from Svalbard

Here is a small video clip from one of our sailing trips in Svalbard.

An awesome experience. Stunning scenery. Knowledgeable and safety conscious guides. Fun skipper & crew combo with excellent route planning and great food. Great camaraderie on board with everyone mucking in and such a lovely bunch of people to meet. Loved it!

Andrew Bell (Ski & Sail Svalbard, 2022)

Itinerary

Day 1: Ship o'hoi - we meet and cast off

Welcome on board! We meet at the dock in Longyearbyen at 14:00, settle into the boat and get to know each other. Before we hoist sails, we get to know the boat and equipment, and we go through safety routines on board. We eat food on the way out from the harbor. On the very first evening, we sail a few miles to get ready for the next day’s ski trip.

Day 2: Ski touring in the outer Isfjorden

The most famous and visited fjord in Svalbard is Isfjorden. In each fjord arm of this fjord system are Longyearbyen, Barentsburg, Pyramiden and other smaller uninhabited places. The fjord is large and surrounded by many great ski mountains, and we spend today skiing in the mountains here before we sail further north.

Day 3: St. Jonsfjorden and Forlandsundet

Just north of Isfjorden, we enter Forlandsundet. Here there are mountains on both sides of the strait and we have a lot to choose from. If there is more weather and wind, we can hide in St. Jonsfjorden and find some big, nice mounitan sides to ski here. If the weather is calm and the sea is flat, we may even be able to get ashore at Prins Karls Forland, a special place in itself.

Day 4-5: Kongsfjorden and Ny-Ålesund

Further north on the northwest coast we reach Ny-Ålesund, this small research town at 79 degrees north. Kongsfjorden is the fjord system around this small settlement with very good skiing terrain and large glaciers that calve into the fjord. For us to be able to reach all the way north to Kongsfjorden, we will have to do some longer evening sails, but that may be our most ambitious goal.

Day 6: Sailing day south

After a few hopefully great skiing days up the north-west coast, we hoist sail and set our course south again. If the weather is better, we will take this sailing day further north at the start of the week. And rather work our way south more slowly. The best thing about being on an expedition is that the weather decides and we can adapt to make the most out of it!

Day 7: Last day of skiing and bye for now!

We wake up at anchor somewhere in Isfjorden again on the last morning. Here we do some hours skiing in the morning before we cover the last sea miles to Longyearbyen. On the way to the dock, we pack, clean and wash ourselves off the boat, so we are ready for the end of the trip no later than 16:00. Thank you for a fantastic Ski & Sail expedition!

Changes to the program

The program is an indication of what the days will look like. Though it might change according to weather and snow conditions. We start each day with a good breakfast and pack lunch before we go out ski touring. Some days we eat dinner straight after skiing. Other days we just eat a little when we get down to the boat again, and sail further before we cook a later dinner. Some days we put in time to fish, or time to look around. Especially on this trip, we have light around the clock and can use weather windows both early morning and late evening to do nice skiing trips in the mountains!

In Longyearbyen

If you have the opportunity, we recommend spending an extra evening in Longyearbyen to familiarize yourself with this small hub of a city with people from all over the world. And if we manage to do so, we will try to arrange a joint meal on land on the last day.

What is included?

  • A trip experience with sailboat – experienced skipper and guide with local knowledge on board
  • Guided backcountry skiing trips every day
  • Small groups – 6 participants per ski guide
  • All food you eat on board during the trip
  • Our Comfort Package which consists of accommodation onboard in a shared double cabin (bunk or double bed) with a ready-made bed (warm and nice duvets and pillows!)
  • An environmentally friendly, local, sustainable, unique, exotic and exclusive Norwegian adventure holiday
  • A shared experience and friendship with like-minded adventurers from around the world
  • A lot of time outdoors – raw and honest nature experiences
  • Use of our shared equipment: dinghies, kayaks, fishing equipment, etc. when possible
  • All boat-related costs such as diesel, propane and harbor fees
  • Personal safety equipment; Helly Hansen inflatable lifejacket
  • Instruction, advice, guidance and practical training in boating and sailing
  • Overlevelsesdrakt og Søk- og Redningsforsikring (SAR) for alle om bord

What is not included?

  • Travel to and from the start/end location
  • Ski and avalanche equipment (beacon, shovel, probe)
  • Personal goodies for the evening and hiking snacks for excursions on land
  • Optional meals at a cafes/restaurants during the trip
  • Entrance to galleries, museums, or other alternative activities that you/we may come up with
  • Rental of equipment, transport or activities from external operators if you want to do things outside the program
  • Drinks such as wine, beer or exclusive apple juice and other luxuries (yes, we drink beer and wine on board, bring your own)
  • Travel insurance and/or cancellation insurance – (up to you, but recommended!)

Important info

Travel

This trip start and ends in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

You find more information on travel, equipment and other tips under Practical info.

Deposit and payment

You only pay a deposit (NOK 6000) upon registration, the remainder of the payment is due 60 days prior to departure.

Safety and risk onboard

We are all about people, and so we also take safety very seriously. On our trips we practice sail- and boat handling also for safety, and we spend time going through various situations that can arise at sea, how to handle them and how to avoid them.

Onboard a boat everyone must know what to do in critical situations and in the event of an emergency. Our philosophy is that partaking and participation builds safety. It is important for the safety of the whole boat that you are a participant onboard, not just a passenger.

Therefore all our trips are to be considered sailing courses in addition to being great  holidays and adventures: You are trained to make up the crew onboard and so we build a capable team onboard.

Feel free to contact us for a chat about safety and risk on our adventures.

Level of the trip

No sailing experience? No problem! Our sailing adventures welcome both novices and seasoned sailors for an inclusive and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re new to sailing or a salty sea dog, our trips cater to all levels.

We aim to transform beginners into sailors quickly while offering experienced participants greater responsibilities and challenges. Our mainland sailing journeys involve 44-50 feet boats navigating coastal and protected waters, occasionally crossing open stretches for excitement. Route adjustments based on weather and conditions ensure a safe and adaptable voyage.

Trips are not overly strenuous; with rotating positions, participants can balance sailing and relaxation. Active engagement minimizes seasickness, and if it occurs, it passes swiftly. Weather, however, is unpredictable, with the potential for stronger winds and various conditions in northern Norway and the Arctic, making each trip a true sailing adventure. Be prepared for calm winds and rough weather—embracing the elements for an unforgettable experience.

What we expect from you

Our trips require a little effort from you who are joining – everyone on board must be ready to contribute and to give of themselves also socially; the more you open up, share and interest yourself in the others onboard, the more enjoyable it gets. 

When you’re sailing with us you are invited to take part in the running of the ship and all that comes with it. You will be sailing, docking, navigating, looking out for whales and icebergs, but also making food, serving others, doing dishes and helping clean the boat during the trip, and contributing in other ways when needed. Onboard we are all in the same boat and when all help out, the ship is most happy. 

Our experience is that doing things together with others out in nature, and not least cooperating and doing activities with new people and different personalities than you might have around you normally, is what creates the best, most interesting and memorable moments and stories:)

Equipment and packing

As with all activities, there is plenty of special equipment and clothing for sailing. If you don’t have any of this, you will get very far with normal hiking/outdoor equipment. You do not need to buy a lot of new equipment to join our trips. Use what you have, borrow what you need from a friend, purchase used equipment, and if you have to invest in new equipment – buy quality items that will last! What you need is something waterproof and windproof on the outside, and layered warm clothing underneath.

Some jackets may not be waterproof “enough”, or might not perform too well in salt water, so you can consider a set of oilskin for the wettest days (available for rent or purchase onboard). A pair of higher rubber boots for disembarking from the dinghy is very good to have, as well as indoor shoes below deck. Out at sea and in the Arctic it can be cold even in summer, so bring both swimwear and plenty of warm clothes. Well before departure, we will send you a detailed recommended packing list.

Read more and see our packing tips here:

PS: In a sailboat, you pack in a bag or sack, not in a rigid suitcase. 🙂

Food & cooking onboard

On our trips, you will be part of the crew onboard and get the chance to participate in all tasks for the operation of the boat. This includes cooking and preparing food – everyone take turns in the galley! Skippers and crew assist as much as they can along the way.

We have great menus with tasty, healthy and “boat-friendly” food, and for each trip we order provisions for all meals onboard. If you have allergies or preferences, let us know in the registration form and we will take that into account as best as we can. You are also most welcome to bring any special food or drink with you. Why not bring some specialities from your country or region for the boat to enjoy? 

During a weeklong trip we often sail by a good restaurant or two where we can have dinner on land. Some places we need to pre-book and we will then need to choose a menu before we arrive. More about all of this when you come onboard!

Life onboard & accommodation

Life on a sailboat is super social and fun, but it might feel a bit intimate at first. No worries though, that vibe usually fades after the first hour. Everyone chips in to run the boat, and we’re all part of the crew, which means quick bonding.

We’re keen to get to know you and hope you’ll connect with the rest of the crew. It takes some patience, generosity, and an open mind to thrive, but soon you’ll be focused on making new friends and enjoying raw nature experiences once sea life feels like home.

Sleeping arrangements in shared cabins with double or bunk beds can be a bit of a puzzle, but we’re pretty good at figuring it out. Let us know if you have preferences. You’re on your own for land accommodations before or after the trip.

The boat provides heating and good food, but fresh water isn’t always abundant. Water conservation means not showering every day, but when near freshwater sources, we make the most of it. But nothing beats a morning sea swim for that fresh feeling.

Safety and risk on Ski & Sail trips

For ski touring on land, we keep the same high focus on safety. On the first skiing day, we go through avalanche awareness, use of our avalanche equipment and the necessary search and rescue techniques. Many factors determine the safety of a ski touring trip, where us, the human factor, is the triggering factor in most accidents in the mountains. Good planning, awareness of the weather and avalanche risk, and a coherent group are important. In addition, it is crucial that you listen to the guide and follow his instructions in the mountains.

Backcountry skiing in the mountains involves a certain amount of risk, as does sailing. However, as an operator, with our highly skilled and trained skippers and ski guides, we do everything we can to minimize the risk in a professional manner. We all benefit from that, as we have nobody to lose.

Level of our Ski & Sail trips

On all of our Ski & Sail trips you must have some previous experience with ski touring and skiing in general. You must have done some ski touring before and you need to bring your own touring equipment. Having said that, we mostly have open groups on our Ski & Sail trips, with participants at different levels. We usually sail several boats together and divide into boat teams and ski groups based on previous experience, skill level and individual expectation, as best we can.

Our various Ski & Sail concepts are on a slightly different level. The shorter trips in Lofoten and Lyngen are less advanced, while the longer departures as in Lyngen and Finnmark and the Ski & Sail expeditions on Svalbard, are more advanced.
Read more about our various Ski & Sail concepts here.

On some selected departures, we set up a specific beginner’s boat. Feel free to ask us about availability for this and which tour might suit you!

Snow conditions

We have locally known guides onboard, that is experts in finding the best snow for us to ski at any condition throughout the season. What is certain about the snow conditions here in northern Norway, is that it’s usually very varied. Often with several types of snow on each single mountain, from fluffy powder or hard packed slabs to spring crust or slush. Depending on the season, how far into the fjords we sail, and of course exposition and height above sea level. We plan the skiing trips along the way based on the latest updated knowledge of the snow conditions and local forecasts.

If we are somewhere without less good snow, we sail to where the better snow is! With the sailboat, we are flexible in finding the best snow, and this can mean that we can go to places that are not on the program or that we ourselves may not have tested beforehand. Then it’s extra exciting and a true adventure for all of us!

Equipment and packing - Ski & Sail

Normal ski touring equipment is required for this trip: Skis with touring bindings and skins (alternatively split board), touring boots and poles. Ski crampons are highly recommended, and mandatory for split board, as this is always needed at some point during a week in our coastal Norwegian mountains. Furthermore standard avalanche equipment is mandatory for everyone to bring: beacon, shovel and probe (this can be rented from us if needed).

On our open Ski & Sail trips, boot crampons and ice axe (or further mountaineering equipment) is usually not needed, except on our Ski & Sail expeditions in Svalbard. More about this in the info-letters you receive after booking.

Avalanche equipment can be rented through us and ski equipment can be rented through our partners, but our best experience is that you bring your own equipment from home. Without too short transfers, flying with a ski bag these days is often as easy as with any other checked in luggage with most airlines.

Read more and see our packing tips here:

Noen svært få ror til Svalbard, noen flere seiler, men de fleste flyr. Norwegian og SAS flyr til Longyearbyen.

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