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Photo: Felix Oppenheim

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Off piste in Riksgränsen leaves you wanting more

Riksgränsen offers the best off piste skiing in Sweden. At the border with Norway and with Abisko National Park and Kebnekaise as distant neighbors, you will find long powder runs.

It’s an early May morning in Riksgränsen. Winter seems reluctant to release its grip this spring, with over six meters of snow on the mountains, most of it still there.

Photo: Felix Oppenheimer

The mighty Abisko Alps beckon, with heli-skiing on a handful of imposing mountain peaks all over 1,500m above sea level, in one of the most untouched mountain areas of Sweden. The mightiest mountain here is Tjåmuhas, with its special heart-shaped bowl.

“We fly all the way down to Kebnekaise, in an area of 5,000sq km with hundreds of mountain peaks. So, you’ve got a big choice,” says mountain guide Tovo Spiral of Mountain Guide Travel, that is based at Hotell Riksgränsen.

“It is easy to find a long run here, with drops of up to 800m,” he says enthusiastically showing us on the map.

It only takes a few minutes from the helicopter pad to reach the Abisko Alps to our first lift up the 1,600m Ballinbogičohkka. It is a spectacularly beautiful day, and we take a few moments to admire the silence, after the helicopter has left us. The mountain panorama is hugely impressive under a clear blue sky and brilliant sunshine.

Off piste through powder snow

We dance our way down through the cold snow, with plenty of fluffy powder patches, creating harmonious tracks on the steep mountainside. Back down in the valley we take some deep breaths.  But we don’t have long to wait for our next lift, this time to ski down the same mountain from the southwest side. Even more joyful skiing, as the snow cover is much deeper.

Photo: Felix Oppenheimer

Two lifts later, it’s time for lunch in one of the valleys, cozily stretched out on reindeer skins. Coffee and substantial reindeer steak and elk sausage sandwiches give us renewed energy.

After a few more lifts, including up the 1,700m Adnjetjårro, it’s time to return to Riksgränsen.

Après ski on the sunny hotel veranda awaits, with views over both mountains and pistes. If we still have enough energy after dinner, we may take an excursion to Nordalsfjäll, with views of the magical landscape, as the sun is still high in the sky.

Historic ski resort Riksgränsen

Riksgränsen has been attracting ski tourists since the 1930s. Lapplandia Tourist Station was founded in 1928, thanks to the iron ore line from Kiruna to Narvik. In 1934, slalom pioneers Olle Rimfors and Sigge Bergman opened Sweden’s first ski school in modern Alpine skiing, and in 1962, the first lift was officially opened. This far off the beaten track ski resort, around 200km above the Arctic Circle, has grown significantly over the years, with Hotell Riksgränsen as a clear focal point. The ski system now has 17 pistes and six lifts, very close to the hotel. What’s more, there is also readily accessible off piste opportunities. The best of which is from Nordalsfjäll, where the Nordic Extreme Skiing Championships are held each May.

Riksgränsen

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