Adventure photographer's favorite ski areas
When Mattias Fredriksson was 18, he made a decision. He had been skiing all his life but realized he would never become a professional skier. However, he saw an opportunity for a different career, instead.
“I realized pretty quickly that I had an eye for photography and a talent for writing. So, I decided to combine the two. And by being able to work internationally quite early on, I've been able to see the whole world. I’ve never Interrailed round Europe or been backpacking in Asia. I've made my voyages of discovery around the world on a pair of skis and with a camera round my neck,” says Fredriksson, who’s been working as a photographer and journalist for 25 years.
His photographs and reporting are regular sights in most of the world's most prestigious ski magazines and in ad campaigns for the major brands in the ski industry. His profession has taken him to more ski resorts than most people have visited. These days, he's based in a small mountain village in northern British Columbia, Canada.
“At the start of my career, a skier I worked with competed with me on the quiet as to who had visited the most skiing reports. We stopped counting at 200,” he says.
Here are a few of his favorites:
Unique in the north
Narvik is in the far north of Norway. The simplest way to get here is to fly to Evernäs and then rent a car. Narvik is a small town but the skiing is world class. A flavor of it: A 1,000m drop from the top to the fjord and village. The biggest in Europe. The skiing is absolutely fabulous here with a world class off-piste area. You can reach fantastic terrain within a short distance. From the skiing area, you can see all the way to Lofoten and the emerald green waters of the fjord. When the weather's right, it's one of the most beautiful places on earth.When visiting Narvik, it can also be worth going to Riksgränsen, the most northerly ski resort in Sweden. The legendary resort, which is just 45 minutes away, offers playful ski terrain, ski touring and unique heliskiing under the midnight sun.Riksgränsen is also home to one of the world's finest ski lodges, the newly built Niehku Mountain Villa (niehku.com), built on the site of the locomotive roundhouse of the iron ore railway line between Sweden and Norway. Incidentally, Niehku is the Sami word for dream. You will live in luxury and dine splendidly in this architectural masterpiece.
Narvik & Riksgränsen
A delightful foodie pearl
The Mont Blanc tunnel from Chamonix brings you to Courmayeur in Italy. A combination of phenomenal skiing, fantastic beauty and quite incredible food means Courmayeur fully deserves its place on this list. It's simple to get here from Milan or Geneva airport. The local restaurants are really good but the best places to eat are the ones up in the mountain. If the weather's not so good, you can linger over lunch, but my advice is to keep an eye on the time. It's easy to spend a couple of hours over lunch, but this isn’t the best way to get the most out of your ski trip. The skiing is really something special here. I usually try to arrange photo assignments here simply because the skiing is so incredibly good.
The most snow sure in the Alps
I would guess I've been to Engelberg 40–50 times since 1997. This is one of my absolute favorite places and also one of the first ski areas in the Alps I ever visited. It's very popular with Scandinavians and especially the Swedes that live here, which is one of the reasons the village has moved up a gear when it comes to the choice of hotels and restaurants. Engelberg Is one of the most snow sure parts of the Alps and with one of the longest ski seasons, partly thanks to the glacier skiing at Titlis. The Swedish owned Ski Lodge Engelberg is the lifeblood of the village. I can heartily recommend staying there, but if it's fully booked, you should at least drop in for an après ski drink or a good evening meal in Brasserie Konrad, the hotel's excellent restaurant that focuses on fresh, local produce from the valley.
Nice combination of skiing and culture
If you fly to Tokyo, it's a simple train ride to the ski resort of Hakuba, that takes around five hours from Narita Airport. Hakuba consists of seven smaller ski resorts and brilliant for powder skiing, the different culture and fantastic food. When it starts snowing in Japan, it really comes down and snowfall of over one meter is not uncommon. When I was in Japan last winter, we got over 1.5m of new snow over 24 hours which made for some of the deepest and best skiing I've ever done.Don't forget to find the nearest Onsen bathing (natural hot baths you’ll find everywhere) after skiing to ease aching muscles. Your body will really thank you when you wake up the next morning.
Capital of heliskiing
Revelstoke is a mountain town between Vancouver and Calgary in the heart of British Columbia on the west side of Canada. It's an old railway junction and lumberjack town that is beautifully situated on the Columbia River and surrounded by big mountains. About 15 years ago, you could barely dare enter certain bars and restaurants as they were pretty rough and full of truckers. However, the town became a genuine ski resort in 2008 and started to develop into more of a tourist destination. Now there are delightful restaurants, cafés and stores in Revelstoke and the new clientèle have wrought radical changes. One factor remains consistent however, they get more snow here than most other parts of British Columbia (and the rest of the world for that matter) and the ski terrain is fantastic. Revelstoke Mountain Resort has the biggest elevation drop in the whole of North America, 1,700m. Revy is also the heliskiing capital of the world and there are several options if you fancy trying this.Fly to San Francisco and then on to Vancouver, or to Chicago and on to Calgary to get here. Then bus or rental car.
Revelstoke, British Columbia
The capital of the Alps
Innsbruck is the fifth largest city in Austria (population 120,000) and is quite rightly dubbed the capital of the Alps. Innsbruck has a unique location; seven good ski areas close to the town and many of the most famous ski areas in Austria are within a one-hour radius, such as Ischgl, Mayrhofen and St Anton. A rich cultural life, choice of restaurants and nightlife means a city weekend break to Innsbruck can include skiing as one of the activities. Nowhere else in the world offers such a sharp contrast between urban and genuine Alpine environments.Take the Nordkettenbahn, designed by star architect Zaha Hadid, from the old town in Innsbruck. Within 20 minutes, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city and mountains, 2,256m above sea level. From here, there’s high class skiing in Seegrube, including fun forest trails.
Published: November 28, 2018