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Photo: J. Järvenkylä

Backcountry Skiing and Winter Camping in Abisko (Sweden)

An Arctic ski expedition with wild camping in the far north of Swedish Lapland

  • Guided
  • Hard +
  • From £/person
  • Dec-May, 8 days/7 nights
  • Adults, Groups, Solo

Highlights:

  • Arctic backcountry skiing above the treeline
  • Very remote landscape with no trails or habitation
  • Good chances for Northern Lights
  • Four nights' winter camping during the tour
  • Learn wilderness skills from expert guide
  • Ski and camping equipment included

Description »

Into the wild

Are you ready for a real Arctic adventure? If you have a high level of fitness, the heart of an explorer, and are used to and enjoy the outdoor life in wintertime, then the wilderness awaits you for a winter expedition you will never forget!

Backcountry Skiing and Winter Camping in Abisko takes you out into the vast fjäll landscape of Swedish Lapland for 6 days/5 nights, with all nights winter camping. Daily distances will typically be around 15km-25km.

Ski touring with pulk in Abisko, Sweden

Backcountry skiing gives you unique possibilities to access the wilderness. Photo: WH.

The itinerary is not fixed and can be varied depending on weather, snow and temperature conditions as well as the ability of the group. In general, you will aim to do a circular tour, starting directly from Abisko and heading towards Lapporten - a dramatic, shallow U-shaped mountain feature which dominates the landscape from all directions.

From here, you will typically take a clockwise route, predominantly skiing through the valleys, to end in Abisko National Park as you close in towards Abisko Mountain Station once again. There are a number of variations and different valley routes which may be taken to offer the best experience for you.

A taste of civilisation

The tour begins and ends in comfort, with nights at Abisko Turiststation on Day 1 and Day 7. At the station dinner is served in the restaurant and a relaxing sauna awaits you to prepare your muscles before the tour and soothe them at the end on your return.

Once out on the tour, you will be leaving such luxuries far behind, skiing and camping in a very remote area with no permanent human habitation.

Specialist equipment provided

The tour includes full winter equipment, with skis (boots are available to hire as optional extras if you do not have your own), high quality tents, winter sleeping bags, sleeping mats and cooking equipment all provided. Pulks for transportation of the main gear are also included. Each person will ski with their own pulk. You need bring only your personal clothing and a few extra items, some snacks, and of course your thirst for adventure and sense of humour!

If you wish to bring some of your own equipment to test (for example if you are in training for another Arctic ski expedition or other trip), you are welcome to do this by arrangement. Please contact us in advance in this case to ensure that your equipment is suitable for the tour.

From the depths of midwinter to the promise of spring

Scheduled tour dates typically take place between February and April, but Backcountry Skiing and Winter Camping in Abisko can be offered throughout the winter season, from December until mid-May. Additional dates can be added on request from min. 2 persons, and private group tours are also possible with tours of longer or shorter duration if required. If you're planning a tour in December and January, you should be prepared for an even greater challenge!

Winter Camping in Abisko, Sweden

Not a bad view to wake up to from your tent! Photo: WH.

The world to yourself

In general, you are likely to see very few, if any, other persons during your backcountry ski tour, especially for tour dates during the midwinter period between December and February. For tours during the "spring winter" from late February onwards, you may see others in the area, particularly when skiing close to Abisko, but whatever time of the season you choose to travel, this is a very remote area indeed.

The tour takes place above the treeline at all times, and for most of the tour you will be at a height of around 1000m above sea level. There are no prepared ski tracks, so you will be skiing "off the trails". Depending on snow conditions, this can add significantly to the level of physical challenge of the tour.

Winter Camping in Abisko, Sweden

The element of winter camping adds both challenge and adventure to the tour. Photo: WH.

Harness your pulk and get ready for the adventure!

This is backcountry skiing - the winter equivalent of trekking in summertime - and you will be mostly skiing in relatively flat terrain, with some uphill and downhill sections. You will need to carry a lot of gear during the tour, using one pulk per person with your personal items/clothing and a share of communal equipment (tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and provisions). Typical pulk weight around 30-35kg.

You should have some previous ski experience for this tour, but backcountry skiing experience is not required (though will be an advantage). You must, however, have a good level of fitness and stamina and be ready for a physically very challenging trip.

The spectacle of the Aurora

For tours anytime up to around early-mid April (after which the nights become too light for the Aurora to be visible), this tour also gives you excellent chances to see the Northern Lights. The Aurora is an inspiring sight to witness at any time, but when experienced in solitude in the middle of a vast wilderness landscape, is something truly magical. You might even be able to watch through the tent flaps from the comforting cocoon of your sleeping bag!

Northern Lights in Abisko, Sweden

A display of the Northern Lights may bring a magical extra element to your trip. Photo: WH.

The magic of the Arctic wilderness, the excitement of setting off on an expedition, the adventure of winter camping, the satisfaction of challenging yourself and discovering what you can accomplish - all these combine to make Backcountry Skiing and Winter Camping in Abisko a very special way to experience the beauty of Swedish Lapland.

Itinerary »

Day 1: Arrival

If your are arriving by flight to Kiruna or overnighting in Kiruna before your tour, transfer is included from Kiruna airport or accommodation in Kiruna to Abisko Turiststation (transfer time approx. 1.5 hours). Transfer time will be coordinated depending on the travel plans of other guests in the group. If arriving by flight, please arrive to Kiruna no later than mid-afternoon - it is not possible to arrive with the evening flights.

Alternatively, if travelling by night train from the Stockholm, the train brings you right to Abisko Turiststation, where the experience begins.

Check-in at your accommodation at Abisko Turiststation. Possibility for sauna for a relaxing introduction to your adventure! Dinner at the station restaurant and a chance to discuss the tour ahead. If there is time this evening, you may go through some of the equipment.

The area around Abisko has a particular micro-climate which gives a higher than average incidence of clear skies, so this may be an excellent evening to keep watch for Northern Lights!

Day 2 and following: Skiing and winter camping in the wilderness!

The expedition begins! Breakfast at the station before making preparations for your tour and heading into the wilderness.

Due to the nature of the tour, the route taken and distances covered each day can be very flexible, depending on weather and snow conditions and the ability and wishes of the group.

In general, you will normally head from Abisko Turiststation towards Lapporten (the "the Lapp Gate") - a dramatic and very prominent feature in the landscape - with the intention to make a circular tour bringing you to Abisko National Park and back to the station on Day 7.

You will plan to spend all nights during your tour under canvas. There is a wilderness cabin in the area which can be used in an emergency, located at the western end of the National Park.

Daily distances will typically be around 15km/day but may be up to 25km in one day.

A guideline typical itinerary for these days is as follows:

  • Day 2: To Cuonjajärvi, distance 15km, height difference +600m.
  • Day 3: To Rautasjaure, distance 20km, height difference -300m.
  • Day 4: To Bieggaluoppal, distance 21km, height different +450m.
  • Day 5: To Bajip Snarapj&aurml;rvi, distance 21km, height different +500m.
  • Day 6: To Gironsnuohki, distance 23km, height difference -350m descent

Day 7

Typical distance this day (depending on where you have stayed the previous night) is around 12km, descending on a trail towards Abisko.

Your last ski day brings you back to Abisko Turiststation, where once more a well-deserved sauna awaits to soothe your tired muscles!

Dinner in the restaurant at the station and a chance to reflect on your adventure before a night in comfortable bed at last!

Day 8: Departure

Breakfast at the station and departure.

If you are returning to Stockholm by night train, the train leaves right from Abisko Turiststation.

For guests departing by flight from Kiruna or staying in Kiruna after the tour, transfer from Abisko is included. You should plan for flight departure from Kiruna no earlier than midday.

Dates»

Dates 2023

  • February: 18.02-25.02.23, 25.02-04.03.23
  • April: 01.04-08.04.23, 08.04-15.04.23

Additional tour dates between December and mid-May can be added on request (subject to availability) for minimum 2 persons. Note that tours during the midwinter period between December mid-February may have an even higher than normal level of challenge due to limited daylight and possible lower temperatures/more challenging weather conditions.

Private tours for groups of up to 6 persons are also be possible on dates by arrangement. For private tours, tours of shorter or longer duration than the standard itinerary can also be offered.

The Northern Lights can be seen anytime from around September to early/mid April.

Prices»

Prices 2022/23

Standard Prices  
Per personGBP

For private tours, please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Winter boots/person (paid locally, please give sizes in advance)  
Boots EUR
  • Boots: Winter boots for use with the skis provided are available to hire for participants who do not have suitable footwear. NB: Boots must normally be arranged no later than 4 weeks prior to departure if required to ensure suitable sizes are available. Please give sizes on booking.

What's Included »

Included

Accommodation:

Sleeping accommodation is shared on all nights. Everyone assists with tasks around camp such as preparing food, washing up, etc.

  • Days 1 and 7: Accommodation in shared rooms at Abisko Turiststation. Sauna at the station is included for these nights.
  • Days 2-6: Five nights' winter camping in shared 2-person tents. There is one wilderness cabin in the area which may be used in the event of an emergency or visited for a day stop during one of the skiing days.

Meals:

All meals are included from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day.

  • Dinner on Day 1/Day 7 and breakfast on Day 2/Day 8 are in the restaurant at Abisko Turiststation.
  • During the tour, the group will cook and eat together. Lunch is taken outside. As dehydrated camping foods are used during the tour and cooking facilities are very simple/shared, common dietary requirements such as vegetarian, etc, can normally be accommodated, but opportunities to accommodate more restrictive diets (such as gluten-free, vegan, particular allergies) may be limited. Please advise any dietary needs in advance and contact us to discuss your requirements.

Equipment:

  • Skis, bindings and poles: Note that boots are not provided but are available to hire as optional extra. If bringing your own boots, these must be compatible with NNN BC bindings. The ski boots serve as your main boots for the tour - no additional winter boots are required. Guests wishing to bring own boots and/or ski touring equipment are welcome to do so - please provide details of your equipment in advance to ensure it meets the requirements for the tour). Skis used are Fischer easy skin Xtralite skis (models with the widest cut and shorter sizes, e.g. 180-190cm), which are relatively easily manageable for the less experienced skier while providing better control for the descents. These skis use Rottefella NNN BC system bindings.
  • Camping equipment: Winter sleeping bag with liner and closed cell sleeping mat; high quality tents.
  • Pulk: Each person will ski with their own pulk, carrying a mix of communal and personal equipment.
  • Cooking equipment.
  • Camping plate/bowl, mug and cutlery.
  • Toilet paper.

Guide:

Experienced and knowledgeable local guide.

Transfers:

Arrival/departure transfers between Kiruna airport or Kiruna town and Abisko Turiststation at fixed times in connection with start/end of the tour. Transfer times from Kiruna will be coordinated depending on travel plans for the different members of the group.

Not Included

  • Travel: We do not arrange flights or domestic travel, but are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey. See under "Getting There" for general travel information.
  • Alcoholic drinks (available to purchase at Abisko on Day 1 and Day 7).
  • Winter boots (available to hire if you do not have your own, please see Optional Extras).

Good To Know »

Required

Health requirements/experience:

This is a very challenging experience requiring a high level of fitness and stamina. Minimum age 18 years. You must be used to the outdoors and be prepared for travelling in a remote area. Some previous experience of skiing is required, but as the skiing is not technical, previous experience of backcountry skiing/touring is an advantage but is not essential for the tour.

You will be skiing with a pulk carrying all personal and a share of communal equipment. Any items not needed can be left behind at the start point. Pulk weight is typically around 30-35kg.

There will be no prepared tracks (except normally at the start and end of the tour when you are close to Abisko), and especially if the snow is deep and soft, breaking the trails can be very challenging. The addition of winter camping to the tour also significantly increases the level of physical challenge - preparing and breaking camp requires significant time and energy, and of course there is normally no opportunity to make fire for camping nights as there would be when staying in cabins. The intention is to camp on four out of the five nights you are out during the tour.

Tours during the deep midwinter period in December and January may be particularly challenging due to the limited daylight and possibly lower/more challenging weather conditions during this time. For tours throughout the winter season, you should bear in mind that this is a mountain region and weather and temperature conditions can change quickly at any time.

Tours from late March to mid-May, during the "spring winter", will have much longer hours of daylight and typically milder temperatures.

The daily itinerary and distance covered each day is variable, but you should be comfortable skiing daily distances of up to 25km (typically distance covered is more usually around 15km/day) in challenging terrain with no trails. Daily skiing time typically around 6-8 hours per day including lunch break and shorter stops.

What makes this "Hard +"?

These tours take place in very remote wilderness areas with most nights winter camping. There is likely to be no mobile phone coverage for the majority of the tour (your guide will carry a satellite communicator in case of emergency).

You will be skiing with a pack and/or pulling a pulk (shared with other participants) and there are no prepared ski tracks - in general, you will be skiing "off the trails" throughout the tour. Skiing on unprepared terrain is much more physically demanding than skiing on tracks.

When trail breaking is required, participants will take it in turns to go at the front.

The tour takes place at all times above the treeline in very exposed terrain, where weather conditions encountered can make the tour very challenging.

NB: Perception of difficulty is very subjective. What is hard to one person may be easy for another and vice versa, depending on factors including level of fitness, age and previous experience. Weather conditions/temperatures can also dramatically affect the actual level of challenge encountered.

Equipment/clothes needed:

For information on any equipment and/or clothing included as standard for this experience, please see under "What's Included".

A detailed recommended packing list for personal items to bring will be sent with your booking documentation.

NB: We advise you not to buy equipment or clothes for your trip or to incur other non-refundable expenses such as flights until you have received confirmation of your booking from us in writing. Note of course that the most appropriate clothing to use as well as the level of challenge experienced during any outdoor activity may vary significantly depending on factors such as the time of year and the particular weather/temperature conditions during your trip.

Preparing for your trip:

For further reading, we also have a number of general information articles to get you ready for your trip, covering a wide variety of topics from what to do on a city break before/after your tour, advice on packing, eyewear for winter and considerations for female travellers.

Minimum number:

Scheduled tour dates require total minimum 2 persons to be guaranteed to run (you are of course welcome to book as a solo traveller). Additional tour dates can be added on dates by request for minimum 2 persons, subject to availability.

Groups

Max. group size 6 participants for scheduled tours. For private tours, it may be possible to accommodate groups of more than 6 persons - please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Eco Info

This provider has a written environmental policy.

Getting There »

Getting There

See below for a summary of travel options. To learn more about how to travel to this experience, please get in touch!

Detailed information on travel will be provided in response to your enquiry. We are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey.

NB: Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.

Travel Summary:

By Air:

Fly to Stockholm then onward to Abisko Turistation by night train or to Kiruna by night train or domestic flight connection. Transfer from Kiruna airport or town is included in connection with arrival/departure for the tour.

Without Flying:

Ferry Dover-Dunkirk or Newcastle-Amsterdam for onward train connections to Abisko Turiststation.

Gallery & Reviews »

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