Svalbard Ski & Sail
Explore the Fjords off the west coast of Spitzbergen from the s/v Noorderlicht
2022 // May 4-14 (2 spots), May 11-21 (3 spots),
May 19-29 sold out
2023 // April 26-May 6 (8 spots), May 3-13 (17 spots), May 10-20 (17 SPOTS)
Backcountry ski touring and sailing expedition along the west coast of Spitsbergen, 1000 km from Norway and 1200 km from the North Pole. The Svalbard archipelago of over 60 mostly unpopulated islands is a wild and remote place, and at a latitude of greater than 79º it is level with Canada’s Ellesmere Island, or the northernmost end of Greenland. Our Ski and Sail expedition in Svalbard is a journey into one of the most unique and surreal ski touring destinations in the world with its juxtaposition of sea, mountain, and arctic environment. Yet, it is surprisingly easy to access, with three-times daily airline flights into the modern airport at Longyearbyen.
The west coast of Spitsbergen is protected by a long, thin island called Prins Karls Vorland, which protects an inner channel and allows straightforward sea access to dozens of fjords. The fjords harbour countless peaks rising 500 to 1000 m out of the sea, and offer outstanding ski touring opportunities. It is a land perfectly designed for skiing. Gaining access to these beautiful glaciated peaks is only possible by boat, as helicopter skiing is strictly forbidden in Svalbard. And a good thing, too: a sailing yacht is really the best way to visit this country, a tradition that has existed since whaling boats first made use of the area over 200 years ago. The s/v Noorderlicht, which we have chartered again this year, is also the best boat around for the job. At almost 50 m (150 ft) long it’s comfortable and stable and provides exceptional luxury with the classy lines of a gaff-rigged schooner.
Backcountry skiing – from a Sailboat!
Our Ski and Sail trips use a comfortable and spacious double-masted gaff-rigged sailing yacht, the s/v Noorderlicht (Dutch for “Northern Lights”). Our captain is Floris de Waard, who is also the owner and a wonderful and hard working host. Travel by boat enables us to sample the best ski touring and ski mountaineering spots along the west coast of Spitzbergen, Svalbard’s largest island. Given the long days in spring, there will not be any rush: around the clock the midnight sun provides an amazing soft light that is unique to ski touring this far north. Our goal is to ski tour every day after lifting anchors in Longyearbyen. Skiing days last from 5 – 9 hrs. Due to the presence of polar bears, the guides will be carrying bear deterrents and firearms during the ski touring days. All in all an amazing adventure – a trip of a lifetime!
Longyear City – Ski out of your hotel
For our guests who want to spend more time in this amazing area we offer an optional 3-day pre-sail trip extension to do backcountry ski tours and / or a snowmobile tour based in Svalbard’s main town, Longyearbyen.
Longyearbyen, with a population of about 2000, is the northernmost town in the world and is the staging point for our trip with its airport and harbour. Despite its remote location, Longyearbyen offers exceptional amenities. It has a quaint town center with bars, restaurants, shops and two arctic history museums. We will stay at the Basecamp Svalbard hotel – a unique hotel with a remarkable ambience that warrants a visit to Svalbard in its own right. At this latitude, even in May, we can usually count on being able to put our skis on right at the hotel at sea level and tour up into the mountains above town.
Trip reports, Photos and Maps
To get a better idea of what to expect from our Svalbard Ski and Sail ski trip, please check out our Svalbard photo album and Ski Touring in Svalbard blog post about our 2018 Ski & Sail adventure. A great resource is this topo map of Svalbard made available by the Norwegian Polar Institute. Finally, our 360° Virtual Tour is a great way to get a feel for what to expect when you step on board the s/v Noorderlicht.
DATES 2022 // NO22-1: May 4-14, 2022; NO22-2: May 11-21, 2022; NO22-3: May 19-29, 2022
DATES 2023 // NO23-1: April 26-May 6, 2023; NO23-2: May 3-13, 2023; NO23-3: May 10-20, 2023
See Itinerary for details.
2022 PRICE: $7,995 CAD/person (About $6,414 USD / €6,097 / £5,208) + 5% GST).
2023 PRICE: $8295 CAD/person (About $6,571 USD / €6,246 / £5,335) + 5% GST).
Optional pre-sail ski touring included in this price; contact us for details on special pricing for trips without this component.
PAYMENT SCHEDULE: 30% payment secures your booking; 60% due September 1; balance (full payment) due February 1
INCLUDED: Pre-sail – 3 additional days of town based ski touring and excursions, 3 x Hotel B&B in Longyearbyen. Ski & Sail – 7 nights two mast sailboat rental with crew, harbour fees, permit fees, UIAGM / IFMGA mountain guides, multi-course dinners, breakfast on board as well as lunch supplies.
NOT INCLUDED: Air travel, alcoholic beverages, dinners in Longyearbyen.
Tom has been guiding since moving to Canmore in 1995, the place he calls home with wife, son and daughter. He guides year around, with winters being a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations throughout western Canada and the arctic. Tom is the owner of Sawback Alpine Adventures. He speaks English, German, and enough French and Spanish to get by. Svalbard is one of Tom’s favourite places to ski. This spring he will have his hands full operating three back to back Ski & Sail trips. For the first three weeks he’ll stay put in Longyearbyen coordinating the land-based programs, but plans to jump in for the last sailing trip on the Rembrandt, NO22-3.
Residing in Nelson, BC with his wife and two boys, Joel spent more than ten winters as lead guide and operations manager for Baldface Lodge. He stepped down from that position a few years ago and now guides a mix of mechanized and ski touring trips, including operation his business “Big Country Guiding”. With over thirty years of backcountry experience, including two decades of guiding, he never tires of grabbing his skis or splitboard and heading out of a day in the mountains.
In 1979 Roger started working for Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) in the Bugaboos. He developed an interest in the mountains, which later turned into a professional career. In 1986 he became a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, and has since become an Internationally Certified Mountain Guide. After 12 years of managing CMH’s premier lodge “The Monashees” Roger has since retired, and is now operating Battle Abbey, a ski touring hut north of Golden B.C., with his partner Loree. Throughout the rest of the year he can be found working on photography projects and guiding private clients. Roger will join us in Svalbard for NO22-1
“I have always considered the mountains as my real home, as a place without borders, having to be 100% yourself. In fact, I don’t have a precise memory of when I really started going to the mountains, certainly from a very young age thanks to my parents and grandparents: first on foot, then on skis, to then get to rock climbing and finally to the ice of the falls. winter and high mountains. I have been a Mountain Guide since 2014.” Andrea will join us in Svalbard for NO22-1 and NO22-2.
Nino graduated from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA and began working as a commercial photographer while simultaneously pursuing his passion for the mountains. After climbing at an elite level for years, Nino turned his attention towards teaching and sharing his knowledge with others. Nino will challenge his last exam in his journey to becoming a IFMGA Mountain Guide just before joining us in Svalbard for NO22-2.
“I have been going to the mountains since I was a boy and I practiced many sports, until I dedicated myself body and soul to the mountains, my great passion. I have been an Alpine Guide since 2009 and I immediately began to devote myself to this noble profession: the intention of being able to communicate my enthusiasm for mountaineering together with the necessary technical knowledge to others. I am lucky enough to visit so many beautiful places, which every time become a great discovery and adventure.” Gianni will join us in Svalbard for NO22-3
Rob spent his 20s racing bicycles but eventually settled down to become the 98th American mountain guide. Rob speaks English, French and Italian and is also a freelance writer and the author of Holy Spokes: a Biking Bible for Everyone and The Mountain Guide Manual. Rob is the owner of Vetta Mountain Guides and lives in Boulder with his wife and their identical twin boys. Rob will join us in Svalbard for NO22-3
Chris left a comfy university position for the vagaries of guiding a number of years ago. Research expeditions, tour guide engagements or private adventures have lured him to the Arctic and Antarctic at least for some time of each year ever since 1985. His engagements with Oceanwide Expeditions date back to 2003. He holds degrees in Geography, Geology and Cultural Anthropology. Research engagements for a Master’s degree investigated the impacts of industrial development on permafrost dynamics. His Ph.D. and later research emphasis, however, focused on Recreation Ecology of Polar Ecosystems – investigations on the environmental consequences of recreational activities at both ends of our planet. He will join us for NO22-1 and NO22-2
Phil studied biology at Imperial College in London, England. After completing his PhD in plant pathology, he worked for two winters and three summers as a field guide for the British Antarctic Survey, combining his passion for natural science with that of mountain exploration and photography. He has led numerous climbing and skiing expeditions to Antarctica, Tibet, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Peru, East Greenland, the Caucasus and Canada, and was Vice President of the Alpine Club in 2006-7. Phil works as a freelance photographer, polar guide, expedition leader, naturalist and lecturer in expeditions, polar geology and history. When not working or playing in far-flung places he lives in England on the edge of Peak District National Park. Phil will join us for NO22-3
Loup has his roots in France, born and raised in the Pyrenees. Loup completed the Arctic Nature Guide program in Svalbard in 2019, and works today as a guide in Longyearbyen running dog sledding and backcountry ski tours. Loup’s reputation on the arctic archipelago is “The guide with most 5-star ratings.” Loup will help with the land-based ski touring for NO23-3.
We meet in Longyearbyen on the first day. You can arrive as late as the afternoon of Day 4 as the boat departs at around 17:00 PM on that day. We will be done with the trip on the morning of the last day, which is Day 11. Here’s the exact dates for each of our upcoming trips for your reference:
- NO22-1: meet at the hotel on the evening of May 4, 2022 which is the day before our first pre-sail ski touring. You can arrive in Longyearbyen as late as early afternoon on May 7 as the boat departs around 17:00 PM on that day. Day 11 (final day) is on May 14.
- NO22-2 meet at the hotel on the evening of May 11, 2022 which is the day before our first pre-sail ski touring. You can arrive in Longyearbyen as late as early afternoon on May 14 as the boat departs around 17:00 PM on that day. Day 11 (final day) is on May 21.
- NO22-3 meet at the hotel on the evening of May 19, 2022 which is the day before our first pre-sail ski touring. You can arrive in Longyearbyen as late as early afternoon on May 22 as the boat departs around 17:00 PM on that day. Day 11 (final day) is on May 29.
- NO23-1: meet at the hotel on the evening of April 26, 2022 which is the day before our first pre-sail ski touring. You can arrive in Longyearbyen as late as early afternoon on April 29 as the boat departs around 17:00 PM on that day. Day 11 (final day) is on May 6.
- NO23-2 meet at the hotel on the evening of May 3, 2022 which is the day before our first pre-sail ski touring. You can arrive in Longyearbyen as late as early afternoon on May 6 as the boat departs around 17:00 PM on that day. Day 11 (final day) is on May 13.
- NO23-3 meet at the hotel on the evening of May 10, 2022 which is the day before our first pre-sail ski touring. You can arrive in Longyearbyen as late as early afternoon on May 13 as the boat departs around 17:00 PM on that day. Day 11 (final day) is on May 20.
Day 1: Arrival at the airport in Longyearbyen from Oslo (with SAS or Norwegian Airlines) in the early afternoon (usually one overnight required in Oslo). Transfer to our Hotel and time to check out the town including a visit to the “Polarmuseum”.
Day 2: Ski touring day trip close to town and return to our Hotel
Day 3: Ski touring day trip close to town or alternative a snowmobile tour to the town of Barensburg, as small Russian mining town.
Day 4: Potentially another shorter ski touring trip from town or a visit to an ice cave (4 hrs). Arrival day for those participants who chose to participate in the boat trip only. Embarkation around 4 pm at the earliest, safety briefing, departure from pier usually around 6 pm.
Day 5 – 10:
We usually only sail one hour to our first ski tour in the Isfjord; harbours like Ymerbukta or . From there, we continue to sail along the West Coast of Spitzbergen to sample the best ski touring and peak ascent the group of islands has to offer. In May and June the sun will be with us for 24 hours in Svalbard, which leaves a lot of flexibility for our departures. After each day of skiing we return from the shoreline by Zodiak motor boat back to our Yacht, where the smell of dinner will usually welcome us. We usually finish the day on deck with a glass of wine, enjoying the contrast of the sea and the magnificent mountainscape with the everlasting sun above the horizon.
Arrival back in Longyearbyen usually around 4 PM. Farewell dinner on the boat.
Day 11: We bid farewell to our yacht and crew in the morning (after a final breakfast onboard) and head back to the airport. We will fly to Oslo (usually via Tromsø for a brief stopover if you fly with SAS; direct with Norwegian) from where we can catch our international connections, which may require an overnight.
Svalbard Ski and Sail Logistics
This year’s Svalbard Ski and Sail trip starts in Longyearbyen on Svalbard. There are at least 3 flights daily to Longyearbyen from Oslo, Norway.
If you choose to only participate in the boat portion of this trip, you must arrive in Longyearbyen at the latest on Day 4 (see Itinerary tab). We will be boarding the boat at around 4:00 pm.
There is an optional 3 days of ski touring offered (see above Itinerary tab for dates). If you arrive in Longyearbyen on Day 1 then you can participate in all three pre-sail ski tours, but you can also arrive later than that if you like. Please advise us of your intentions so we can make hotel bookings and other arrangements.
When you book your return flight, the best option is to fly with a morning or mid-day flight from Longyearbyen on Day 11 (see Itinerary tab)
Please consult our up-to-date Covid Response Info page for details on travel to Norway and Svalbard during covid. Scroll to near the bottom for specifics.
Booking your flights & Oslo hotel
There’s no fast way to get to Svalbard. That said, I do have some hard won advice.
Finding a good deal on a good flight itinerary to Longyearbyen takes a bit of work. Book well in advance of your trip. Be careful of using the discount sites as additional luggage fees — charged for each leg of your trip potentially — can be pretty hefty. You will need two 20-kg bags so factor that into your planning.
Look for and spend a bit of extra money if necessary to get flights with shorter (<4 hr) stopovers and as few connections as possible.
For your flight to Oslo, look for flights with shorter durations and the fewest connections. Direct flights to Oslo from North America are only available from New York City.
I recommend you use one of the big airlines like KLM, Lufthansa, United or Air Canada all the way to Oslo, aiming to arrive in Oslo in the early afternoon. Remember to account for baggage costs. Iceland Air offers a slightly different schedule and is worth checking out — not to mention they allow a free “stopover” option for those thinking of checking out Iceland as part of this trip!
From Oslo you may need to overnight and catch the next morning’s flight to Longyearbyen (with SAS or Norwegian airlines).
In Oslo, the Radisson Blu Airport Hotel Hotel ($$) is a quick walk from the airport, very comfortable, and my recommendation for efficiency. If you want something a bit cheaper there’s the Scandic Gardermoen ($). But it’s a 7-min cab ride away — which closes the price gap significantly and adds complication.
Oslo is a great world class city to visit. There are also good, interesting hotels in downtown Oslo if you want to spend a night or a few days there before or after the trip. I recommend storing your bulky gear at the Gardermoen airport (See Avinor Baggage Check for details & pricing) and taking the train into town with a light overnight bag. Here are a few to consider:
Hotel Continental Oslo – Owned by the same family for four generations, Continental is the only Norwegian member of “Leading Hotels of the World”. The hotel is home to the renowned restaurants Eik Annen Etage and Theatercafeen, and BAR BOMAN, a lobby bar with Munch’s art on the walls. $$$
Scandic Victoria – Central hotel in Oslo, only a short walk from Karl Johans gate, Stortinget parliament and Spikersuppa ice skating rink. Vibrant Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen are only a 5 minute walk from the hotel, with many trendy bars and restaurants right on the waterfront of Oslo. Akershus Fortress is also within walking distance. $$
Comfort Hotel Grand Central – The Comfort Hotel Grand Central is one of Oslo’s most centrally-located hotels and is found in the main train station, just a 30-minute transfer from Oslo airport. $
Hotel Rosencrantz – Design hotel in the centre of Oslo, just around the corner from Karl Johans gate, public transport and many of the city’s biggest attractions. $$
On the way back, book a flight on the morning of Day 11 (see Itinerary tab for dates) to Oslo. If you are heading to a European city as your final destination you should be able to continue on same day. If you are heading across the Atlantic, plan to stay in Oslo again that night and catch an early flight back home, again with one of the big airlines.
Eating in Oslo and Svalbard
Here are a collection of tips for eating in Norway & Svalbard.
OSL – cheap eats
If you need a fast bite to eat before heading to your hotel, “cheap” pizza is the way to go, located at airport arrivals level. Peppes Pizza, grab it before you leave! Large pizza about 300 NOK ($42 CAD)
LYR – restaurants: best to book ahead with large groups.
Vinterhagen, which adjoins Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg Hotel, is in a greenhouse full of tropical plants — a unique place to experience arctic vistas simultaneously — and serves arctic fare such as seal, char and reindeer $$-$$$.
Longyearbyen Radisson has best pizza and beer pub in town and a nice atmosphere (very crowded on weekends). $-$$
Pub next door to Basecamp across from the parking lot (Svalbar Pub) has good food and prices $-$$
Svalbard Brewery claims to be the world’s northernmost brewery and is down by the ocean, not too long of a walk, worth getting a reservation for a tour and tasting one night. 429 NOK pp for 5 samples, minimum 4 persons, Fridays 16:00, 18:00 and 20:00 only $$$.
Coal Miner’s Bar and Grill is good $-$$
Stationen is a pub-style restaurant with a great menu. Try the beef tagliata for one of the best budget meals in town $$
For a special high end expensive dinner try Polfareren which is close to Basecamp. Expensive and small portions but classy. Eat something before you go, or hit the Svalbar afterwards of pizza if you have a big appetite 🙂 $$$-$$$$
My favourite restaurant of all time is the Gruvelageret which is located about 3 km from town $$$-$$$$
A few web resources
Svalbard Topo Map – Check out the amazing archipelago of Svalbard with this excellent online topo map. See the terrain that makes our Svalbard Ski and Sail so incredible.
Polarmuseum website – Everyone who visits Longyearbyen has to check this place out. The North Pole museum is old and run down and not very good but still probably worth a visit.
Photo album from our May 2018 trip – A collection of my best photos from this year’s trip
Blog post from our 2018 trip – A little blog post I wrote about the trip.
Norwegian Airlines – Norway’s “budget” airline that somehow also manages to offer world class service and free WiFi internet!
SAS Airlines – Scandinavian codeshares with United, Air Canada, Lufthansa, etc. for seamless itineraries.
Iceland Air – offers “free” stopovers in Iceland with flights between North America and Europe, as well as a slightly different time schedule that might work better for you than United / AC / Lufthansa connections.
You need to bring all of the following personal equipment. Please don’t bring extra equipment. If you have any questions at all about gear please do not hesitate to contact us.
Ski crampons are a must for spring ski touring on Svalbard. They are specific to your binding type. Order well in advance as this is something that’s often not available at the last minute. If you can’t find a crampon to fit your binding, G3 crampons have an attachment system that works for many bindings. Again, do this well in advance of the trip.
There are currently no ski rentals on Svalbard for equipment that will meet the requirements for this trip. This could change; contact Sportcenteret to see if they have updated their dilapadated fleet. We do rent ski gear. If you need to rent from us the fee is $550 CAD for this trip, and you must sign a rental waiver. In any event it is highly recommended you bring your own equipment and that you make sure it is in top condition. The Greenland sea is not a great place to go shopping for new gear after breaking your ski in half!
- Wool or synthetic socks and liner socks
- Long underwear top – synthetic or wool
- Light fleece or wool sweater
- Wind shell – nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type jacket
- Waterproof breathable jacket
- Warm insulated jacket – down or synthetic
- Long underwear bottoms – synthetic or wool
- Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants
- Waterproof breathable pants
- Warm hat – wool or synthetic
- Brimmed cap for sun protection
- Face warmer – scarf, neck tube or balaclava (optional)
- Light gloves – wool, synthetic or leather
- Insulated gloves or mitts with waterproof outer shell
- Spare gloves or mitts
- Handkerchief for blocking the sun (optional)
Snow Safety Equipment
- Avalanche beacon with good batteries (and spares)
- Probe (2.4m or longer preferred)
- Skis or split board
- Ski strap
- Ski or snowboard boots
- Climbing skins
- Skin wax (or a candle)
- Ski crampons (mandatory)
- Binding repair kit to fix your personal travel setup
- Ski helmet (optional)
- Pack (30-40 litres)
- Sunglasses (both orange and dark lenses help a lot for travel in all conditions)
- Goggles (orange lenses)
- Sunscreen and lip cream (SPF 30+)
- Head lamp with good batteries
- Insulated water bottle or thermos (1-2 L)
- Lunch bag or container
- Personal blister kit (i.e: Leukotape-P and Compeed/Second Skin blister pads)
- Pocket knife (optional)
- Camera (optional)
- Binoculars (optional)
- Harness – fitted for over your ski clothing
- Locking carabiners (x2)
- Non-locking carabiners (x2)
- Prussik cord – 5m x 6mm (optional)
- Sewn sling – 120cm (optional)
- Lightweight ice axe (optional, don’t bring if you don’t have one or don’t like steep skiing)
On the Sailing Boat & at the Hotel
- Duffle bag to contain your clothes in your berth
- High rubber boots for entering/exiting the dinghy
- Comfortable clothing
- Personal medications and toiletries
- Ear plugs
- Reading material
- Chargers & adapters for electronic devices (normal AC power is available as 220V Euro plug)
- Norwegian cash in NOK or Euros to pay for your beer tab, souvenirs, and tips/gratuities (for both guiding staff and boat crew)
Note the following are provided:
- Beer and wine are available to purchase on the boat at a reasonable price. If you choose to bring your own you must declare it to the crew when you board. A corkage fee will apply (approx. 15 EUR per bottle of wine for reference). Please do not bring any hard alcohol and be modest with quantities — this is an expedition, not a party, with crew who work hard and keep long hours.
- Pillows, duvets, bed linen and towels supplied on the boat (& hotel)
Group Gear (supplied by the guides)
- Map and compass
- Snow study kit
- Snow and/or bush saw
- First aid kit
- Emergency tarp
- Emergency toboggan
- Group repair kit
- Radio & satellite phone
- Ropes for glacier travel
Our Booking Form takes a few seconds to complete. We will then contact you to discuss your trip and answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. To secure your booking you must complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms and pay your deposit.
Final payment is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless otherwise indicated. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments are non-refundable after the final payment date.
All of our trips are priced in Canadian Dollars. The approximate exchange rate is given for your convenience on each trip information page.
You will receive your invoice via Flywire, our online payment and foreign exchange service, after we review your booking application.
Foreign clients: You will have various options of payment by credit card or bank transfer and the exact rates you will be charged in your local currency will be listed. These rates are competitive and offer good value compared with other options like bank transfers. There is no additional fee for credit card payments as this is wrapped into the rate offered (hence the higher cost of credit card payments).
Canadian clients: Flywire provides Canadian clients options to pay via bank transfer or an online banking portal. If your bank is not in the list of options, you can use your bank online banking to send an E-transfer to email@example.com. If you prefer to pay by credit card in CAD indicate this on your Application Form. We charge a 3% processing fee for CAD card payments.
Booking Conditions Fine Print
READ CAREFULLY – BOOKING, RESERVATION, DEPOSIT: A deposit of 50% of the total price or private guiding fee is due with your booking unless otherwise indicated. You are required to complete our waiver and application forms during the booking process. You will be sent an invoice via our invoicing system, Flywire which provides all payment options available except Interac e-transfers. Flywire also provides foreign currency rates for the various payment options so you can pay in your local currency. If you wish to pay in CAD by E-transfer send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of this registration form we confirm your booking and you agree to pay your deposit within 7 days. Each trip we offer has a detailed trip information page (available on our website) with the trip details, equipment list, proposed itinerary and logistics, etc. Read through this carefully before completing your registration. TRIP (CANCELLATION / MEDICAL / EVACUATION / THEFT) INSURANCE: Once you complete your registration, we enter into financial obligations on our side and we cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, we highly recommend buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”. Also, all participants need to have internationally accepted health insurance for all activities pertaining to the trip, including coverage for emergency rescue and evacuation. If you already have insurance, please make sure that you will be covered for “roped travel” booking a technical trip including “Via Ferrata” trips. We will gladly refer you to a travel insurance provider who offers “adventure travel insurance packages” and with whom our clients have had positive claims experiences in the past. Generally, you will receive the best benefits if you buy your insurance within 10 days of our booking confirmation. We strongly urge you to read our Insurance Information page carefully before booking your trip. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). CANCELLED PROGRAMS: Once we confirm your booking, we guarantee your trip departure. However, we do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary or venue should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force us to do so or should the physical condition of the participants (see below), weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. We will not be deemed to be in default for any delay or failure to perform our obligations under this Agreement resulting from acts of God, the elements, war, acts of government, civil or military authorities, natural calamities, catastrophe, fire, flood, accidents, epidemics, shortage of transportation, or any other like events beyond our reasonable control. PERSONAL FITNESS and GROUP TRAVEL: Our programs rely heavily on the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the necessary skill and fitness level for a particular trip. When in doubt, please call and discuss this with us! For the protection of yourself and other group members, we reserve the right to deny participation to any unprepared participant at any time of the trip, in which case we cannot offer a refund! In order to accommodate diverse levels of ability and ambition as well as diverse personalities, the decision making of the guide has to be geared towards safety and finding a consensus within the whole group, which may not please each individual participant at all times.
We have chartered the s/v Noorderlicht through Oceanwide Adventures. The Noorderlicht is the ideal vessel for a ski and sail trip. It is 50 m (150 ft) long and has a capacity for 20 passengers and 5 crew. Not too big but also not too small either. Spending a week on a boat it’s nice to have lots of room to move around and a variety of friends to mingle with throughout the week.
A captain, second mate, third mate, cook and expedition coordinator are Oceanwide’s staff who will ensure a successful and safe voyage.
A very interesting resource is our Virtual Tour of the Noorderlicht. It provides 360-views of the decks, lounge and dining areas, and three of the berths. Definitely check it out — it gives a really good feel for what it’s like on board the yacht.
This is categorized as a Classic Pace trip.
- Day trips boat-based
- Peaks between 700m – 1200m asl
- Up to 1500 m climbs / descents / day
- Glaciated terrain
- Often variable snow conditions
Our Trip Ratings Page outlines more specifically how we rate our trips.
Will covid cause problems with travel?
That’s the trillion dollar question in the tourism industry. It certain has. We have had to postpone our spring Ski & Sail trips twice due to the coronavirus crisis, first in 2020 and again in 2021. We are hanging our hopes with the rest of the world on vaccines as a panacea for the pandemic. So far things are looking quite promising, knock on wood. Norway has recently announced their intention to allow international travel as early as Summer 2021 with the implementation of a vaccine passport. We will operate our spring 2022 Svalbard trips if indeed Norway is allowing travel, in spite of inconveniences like vaccine passports and potential covid testing requirements (e.g. rapid tests at airports) or quarantine measures. If Norway’s borders are still firmly closed, however, we will simply postpone the trip by a year, at no additional cost to our guests, once again.
What is included with the trip fee?
Included: 7 nights yacht rental with crew, harbour fees, permit fees, UIAGM / IFMGA mountain guides, multi-course dinners and breakfast on board.
Pre-trip land-based ski touring: 3 additional days guided ski touring and excursions out of Longyearbyen, 3 x Hotel B&B.
Not included: Air travel, alcoholic beverages, lunches and dinners in Longyearbyen, hotel in Oslo en route
What will the snow and weather be like?
May is the month for Svalbard Ski and Sail trips. The temperatures are mild and stable, with lows typically around -5°C and highs around +2°C. The snowpack is typically stable and skiing of the spring corn variety for the most part, although often Arctic Pow can be found on the steep norths. While there is 24-hour daylight the sun never creep so high above the horizon as to cause the same kind of intense radiation you get elsewhere so the snow stays remarkably preserved.
“Will we get a chance to take photos of Polar Bears?” / or: “Will we be attacked by Polar Bears?”
The short answer to both questions is “No”. While it is possible we will see polar bears on this trip it is highly unlikely. Many tourists travel to Svalbard with the goal of seeing polar bears, and join trips that specifically go into the polar bear’s prime habitat — which is north into the pack ice. The goals of our trip are simple: to get the best possible skiing accessible by sail boat. This means sticking to the ice-free waters further south. As a result, I have to disappoint those of you hoping to see polar bears.
At the same time, polar bear safety is always an important consideration. There will always be at least one person in each group carrying a rifle as well as flare guns (a type of bear deterrent). Since we move from place to place and do not camp on land, there is also no chance of enticing a bear over time into our midst.
The reports we hear every couple of years about encounters with polar bears on Svalbard are either with habituated bears close to the towns or far north with tour groups actually seeking out polar bear encounters. Unfortunately in each case the end result has been the destruction of a bear who is usually emaciated, desperate and close to death already.