Narvik Backcity Riding

Choose the city, choose the mountain, choose April. Choose Narvik, Norway.

1888. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson was one of the "big four" in Norwegian literature, and among the all-time greats in the category "most impressive sideburns grown at any time prior to 1972."
He wrote a little poem. It is so short that you could write it on the back of your hand. It goes like this : "I choose April!"

Norrona and Even Sigstad jibbing in Narvik

He was ahead of his time, that Bjørnson fellow. Had "Mr. Sideburns" been given some big mountain skis, the whole annual photo edition of Powder Magazine might be turned into a pure Bjørnson special report.

1902. Narvik, until then a small cluster of farms, held its first municipal elections. The same year, the Ofotbanen railroad opened to carry iron ore from the mines in Kiruna, Sweden to Narvik harbor. The observant reader will note the following : Narvik was founded to carry the mountains to the people.

Backcountry freeriding in Narvik, Norway with Even Sigstad

1903. Bjørnson won the Nobel Prize in Literature. In his acceptance speech he said, "What is necessary is that our courage to live is strengthened, not weakened."


1957. Narvik gets a gondola. Let's repeat that : Gondola. A lot of bad things happened in Narvik during World War II, so we needed to, as Bjørnson said, "to strengthen our courage". So we'll jump right into the story.


The name alone is enough to get a Scandinavian to think of schnitzel, good espresso, French men in tight pants with roll-your-own cigarettes, and loud Americans with monosyllable names, I'm thinking of you Nate. In short, all the things that are found
at ski areas in other parts of the world, Abroad. Just not here in Norway. They have one in Narvik : A Gondola, that is. So Narvik has carried the mountains to the people since 1902, but in 1957 Narvik's gondola started carrying people to the mountain as well. That was the year of a real turn around in Narvik's appeal.

Andreas Wiig in Narvik, Norway with Norrona

1996. The gondola was upgraded. Since you will feel an irresistible urge to head to Narvik after seeing its pictures in this magazine, please note that the gondola has enjoyed its fair share of grease, paint and Botox since 1957. The Gondola takes you 700 meters over the waters of Ofotfjorden, over the railway, the harbor and ships loading iron ore. That's pretty good by itself. But in the happy 1980s, when hardly anyone had whiskers, Narvik concluded that this was not enough and decided, "We have to go higher up the mountains."

The result? A chairlift to Linken (The Link). It reaches 1 003 meters above sea level, so that ships down there on the bay, shrink two more notches, becoming toy-like in appearance and The Bowl (Yes, even Bjørnson would have accepted that foreign word) named Mørkholla opens, making it a short cut to the third peak, Tredjetoppen, at 1 272 meters. And now that the chairlift is running, everything falls into place, it all opens up.

x-games winner Andreas Wiig showing off in Narvik

2013. I choose April. Because, as Mr. Sideburns wrote, “It storms and scourges. Because it smiles and blesses. Because its power purges. Because it strength possesses.”
Weather shifts quickly in Narvik. That’s why you go there in April. When the days are long. Storm in the morning? The chairlift not running?

Wait until evening.
Or for another day.
The snow is here.
The daylight is here.

Be here, too. April 2014.

Where Narvik, Northern Norway
Travel Flights with SAS ( or Norwegian ( to Harstad-Narvik Airport at Evenes. From there, its an hour by car or bus to Narvik. You can also fly with ( from Bodø and land more or less in the center of Narvik, a short taxi ride from the ski area.
Accomodation We recommend the newly-opened Rica Hotel Narvik ( There are also other hotels in town and a campground with cabins just outside.
Skiing and other activities

Narvikfjellet has six lifts and 900 vertical meters. There are plenty of groomed slopes, which host events such as
the Norwegian National Alpine Skiing Championships. But it is first and foremost off piste skiing that Narvik is known for. Ally yourself with local enthusiasts who can show you some of the goodies Narvik Mountain has to offer, such as some of the fantastic descents in Mørkholla.

Visit the war museum to gain better insight into Narvik's dramatic history. Travel to Riksgränsen in Sweden to try heli-skiing or their ski area. During the summer Narvikfjellet has fantastic downhill biking.

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