Ski touring means working to get results. There are neither lifts, snowmobiles, or a helicopter to take you to the top, only your own legs and a good guide. But the reward easily compensates for the hardships endured along the way, and as an added bonus you have the entire climb from peak to beach to familiarize yourself intimately with the landscape and the view.
The best and most accessible ski touring locations in Greenland are in Maniitsoq - especially around the Eternity Fjord and the Apussuit Glacier - closely followed by backcountry areas in Sisimiut, Nuuk, and Tasiilaq
On the west coast you usually climb up to about 1200-1600 meters, and descents often go all the way to the water’s edge
- On the east coast you can climb as high as 2000 meters above sea level and some runs go all the way to sea level
THE FLOATING HOTEL IN THE ETERNITY FJORD
The Eternity Fjord. The name casts a spell on most of those who hear it, and it is not only the name which hints at hidden magic. In the alpine mountains around this fjord north of Maniitsoq on the west coast of Greenland some of the biggest backcountry skiing adventures in the country lie hidden among jagged peaks and azure glaciers.
You don’t check into a sports hotel in the Eternity Fjord. Instead, you bring your own accommodation in the shape of a local tour boat. From a ship based platform the backcountry world opens up for trips into the unknown and up, up, up past rough, rocky cliffs, softly curving snow fields, and spellbinding glaciers where crevasses expose all kinds of blue tones in the ice. And looking back you will see how the distance covered has already turned your basecamp into a tiny colored dot on the fjord surface.
Ship based ski touring is a luxury that feels like home and where just about any kind of skiing interest in your group can be met. The captain and the mountain guide simply move the hotel to an area with the type of runs you and your group are looking for. And don’t worry, first runs are everywhere.
SKI TOURING IN EAST GREENLAND
Ski touring in East Greenland’s Ammassalik District is operated right from the doorstep of one of the world’s smallest international airports on the island of Kulusuk, just two hours by plane from Iceland’s capital Reykjavik.
Remoteness, alpine peaks, and local culture are the keywords here, where the adventure begins by taking a boat from the ice edge in Kulusuk just a short distance from the airport runway.
That’s right, you basically walk and drive your gear straight out onto the thick sea ice, where the boat awaits, and from there you go to Kuummiut, a couple of hours up the Ammassalik Fjord, where you make landfall in a village with roughly 300 inhabitants.
Kulusuk is a typical Greenlandic fishing and hunting community, and out here you will live in a guest house converted from a private home, and be treated to one of the best combinations of hospitality and sublime skiing terrain anywhere.
Kuummiut is known for its combination of deep snow, immense nature, curious kids with a keen skiing interest, and remote snowmobile-supported alpine experiences around the high altitude Tasiilaq Mountain Hut near the famous jagged Triplets peaks. This is what makes ski touring in Greenland truly unique.
You need to bring all your own equipment to Greenland - but food and clothing is available in Greenland
The season runs from February till May and the peak season is mid-March till mid-May
- There is no considerable avalanche hazard but never forget that you’re in a very remote location and help is usually far away
Remember sun screen. On a sunny day in April you can ascend in shorts and a t-shirt
Ski touring is also called alpine touring or randonnée and the names cover a type of skiing where ascents are made in bindings allowing free heels and ascents with heels locked in a binding. Modern telemark skis fall into this category
- Nuuk, Sisimiut, and Tasiilaq have the only functional ski lifts in Greenland.
SKI TOURING IN NUUK
Greenland’s capital Nuuk is located right at the doorstep of the backcountry and with boat support the winter world opens up a number of day climbs to peaks among which is the all-time favorite north side of Sermitsiaq, the signature mountain of Nuuk.
In Nuuk you even have the opportunity to hop on a bus downtown and ride it right to the edge of the city and the trails at the end of Line 1 in Qinngorput from where a short climb to the Circus Lake opens up ski touring routes for skiers of all levels. In the ski season the city bus also runs all the way to the ski lift from where you only have about 20 minutes to the top of Quassussuaq / Lille Malene.
Just 20 minutes by boat from Nuuk you have access to Kangerlusarsunnguaq Ski Center which has hut based accommodation at the foot of the Teqqiinngallip glacier. Out here a large mountain area well suited for Nordic touring offers plenty of good routes for weekend getaways and even summer skiing on the glacier itself.
SERMITSIAQ AND QINGAQ
If you strive to see the world a bit more from above the alpine peaks Sermitsiaq and Qingaq in the Nuuk fjord are obvious picks for peak bagging close to Greenland’s capital.
A short boat ride from downtown Nuuk takes you to Sermitsiaq, and the city landmark culminates at nearly a kilometer above sea level with gorgeous views of both the capital and the Sermitsiaq glacier - the old icy giant dwelling on the mountain side and slowly winding its way to the fjord waters.
From up here you have several routes to the fjord, and usually the snow conditions will dictate your choice of descent. But regardless of your choice the ride down delivers plenty of great views to Bear Island and behind that the characteristic Qingaq peak.
Qingaq is the second highest mountain in the Nuuk fjord complex, and while it takes true alpine climbing equipment to reach the 1630 meter peak the ascent is moderate until about 1400 meters, and from up here you have views of both the ice cap, the fjord, Nuuk, and the sea on a clear day.
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