Peak season is in May
Intermediate to advanced
1 – 14 people
Backcountry skiing at the edge of the Arctic Circle!
Get ready for wandering polar bears, untracked summits jutting into the cobalt sky, and 1000m corn runs that end in the deep-blue sea — Svalbard rewards the adventure skier with a surprise every day. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime destination, especially on a ski & sail expedition.
Guests will arrive in the village of Longyearbyen via a short flight from Oslo. Even sitting at 79 degrees north at the edge of the Arctic Circle, Longyearbyen offers excellent restaurants, beautiful shops, and hidden nightlife. Just outside of town, dog teams take intrepid tourists onto the ice, where Arctic fox hunt mice and polar bears try to surprise the sleeping seals. Committed ski-tourers will find beautiful runs within sight of town, under 24 hours of daylight. Ski and ride in confidence with fully certified IFMGA mountain guides Tom Wolfe and Rob Coppolillo.
Book This Adventure
Week of Sailing and Skiing in Svalbard
After some touring and rest in Longyearbyen, Rob and Tom, their guests, the boat crew, and chef will board the 150-foot Noorderlicht, a two-masted gaff-rigged sailing yacht. Captain Floriss and his crew know which fjords offer sensational skiing, how to get there, where to anchor, and how to show the gang a good time. You’ll be in good hands!
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. You will be ski touring every day after lifting anchors in Longyearbyen. Skiing days last from 5 – 9 hours. 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!
Svalbard is largely glaciated, so guides carry a crevasse-rescue kit and guests must be experienced skiers. The terrain, though, is remarkably accessible. Gradual, scenic climbs give way to long, beautiful runs back to the water. And best of all, the warm, comfortable boat awaits tired skiers at the end of the day.
Things you need to know
Why should I book with 57hours?
With us, it’s all play and no work for you! 57hours is an open platform that connects you with trained and certified outdoor adventure professionals all over the world. Using our tech-savvy, we make it super easy to find and book adventures worth tackling, with guides worth booking, all gathered from the first-hand experiences of the locals who adventure in these amazing locations.
What you get in this adventure:
- 7 night yacht rental with crew, harbour fees, and permit fees
- Breakfast and multi-course dinners on board
- An experienced UIAGM / IFMGA mountain guides with extensive backcountry skiing knowledge
Pre-trip extension includes:
- 3 additional days of town based ski touring and excursions
- 2x hotel B&B in Longyearbyen.
Note: there is no cost for the extension – complete the booking before September 1 and just come ski with us!
What’s not included:
- Air travel
- Alcoholic beverages
- Lunches and dinners in Longyearbyen
- Hotel in Oslo en route
What's the itinerary?
Pre-trip three-day extension:
- Arrival at the airport in Longyearbyen from Oslo
- Transfer to the Hotel
- Visiting town and Polarmuseum
- Ski touring day trip close to town and return to the Hotel
- Ski touring day trip close to town or alternative a snowmobile tour to the town of Barensburg, as small Russian mining town
Svalbard Ski and Sail
- Potentially another shorter ski touring trip from town or a visit to an ice cave
- Arrival day for those participants who chose to participate in the boat trip only
- Boarding around 4 pm at the earliest
- Safety briefing
- Departure from pier usually around 6 pm
Day Two – Day Seven
- First ski tour is only one hour of sail in the Isfjord; harbours like Ymerbukta
- From there, you will be sailing 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 is for 24 hours in Svalbard, which leaves a lot of flexibility for departures.
- After each day of skiing, return from the shoreline is by Zodiak motor boat back to the Yacht, with the smell of dinner to welcome you.
- Day will be finished 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 is usually around 4 PM. There will be farewell dinner on the boat.
- Bidding farewell to the Yacht and crew in the morning after breakfast and heading back to the airport.
- 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)
Glacier Gear list
- 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)
If you have any question regarding the equipment list, feel free to contact us prior to booking.
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.
Will we get a chance to see the polar bears?
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 the Svalbard Ski and Sail trip is to get the best possible skiing accessible by sail boat. This means sticking to the ice-free waters further south. As a result, we have to disappoint those who are 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 you will be moving from place to place and will not camp on land, there will also be no chance of attracting a bear.
Do I need an insurance?
The best way to tell if you want an insurance policy against individual financial risk is asking yourself ‘If unforseen circumstances prevent me from coming on my trip, am I fine with giving up the full cost of the trip?’. Unfortuntately, life’s unpredictability is its flaw as much as it’s a blessing. It’s better to play it safe, as you never know with goverment issued travel advisories or even simple injuries which can result in a week long hospital trips.
We strongly urge you to protect yourself with a suitable insurance policy that covers you adequately for your needs and individual financial risk tolerance. Global Rescue offers deals that cover everything from costly medical expenses, abruptly halted travel plans and even lost baggage. It’s tried and tested and it works.
All policies regarding cancellation, rescheduling and trip insurance you can find on this link.
Getting there and meeting location
The trip starts in Longyearbyen on Svalbard, which is the largest city on the Norwegian archipelago. There are daily flights to Longyearbyen from Oslo, Norway, but we encourage you to book early. Norwegian Air flies from Oslo, while SAS arrives from Stockholm.
Once you arrive to Longyearbyen on Svalbard, transportation from the airport will be provided.
Guides we recommend
IFMGA/AMGA Certified Guide
IFMGA/AMGA Certified Guide
Rob is a AMGA/IFMGA guide who is runs ski and climbing trips all over the world — from the Rockies to the Dolomites. We tour at least once a year with him because he always brings out the best in us wherever we go and whatever the objective. Rob is the owner of Vetta Mountain Guides, based out of Boulder, Colorado.
IFMGA/ACMG Certified Guide
IFMGA/ACMG Certified Guide · 26 years of experience
Tom Wolfe coordinated a fabulous ski and sail trip to Svalbard. It was an amazing trip that took into consideration the goals and capabilities of each of the guests, while keeping safety top of mind. Tom is not only a professional guide, he’s a really nice guy too. I look forward to skiing with him (and the other guides) again in the future.
Tom Wolfe and Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic on the Noorderlicht. I’ve done a few great trips with Tom over the years so when he emailed a year ago and asked if I wanted to go to the Arctic and ski from a steel hulled yacht I said yes without thinking… Good call. Svalbard was mind-boggling. I had expectations but it beat them. Getting into the zodiac everyday and skiing was amazing. Sea ice, glaciers, seals, walruses, beluga whales and polar bears. Huge huge glaciers, peaks as far as the eye can see. Just amazing scenery. We always enjoy skiing with Tom, classic Canadian mountain guide, mellow but fully on top of snow safety and daily plans for good skiing and tours. One of the best….. As an aside Phil Wickens who was the expedition leader from the boat was also fantastic and a wealth of knowledge – Arctic history, geology, flora and fauna and a very humble but extremely capable mountaineer and skier. Save your pennies and sign up for 2020 – you won’t regret it…..
I went on two trips with Tom last winter: to Carlyle Lodge in the interior of BC and to Svalbard. The skiing and snow conditions at Carlyle were great and Svalbard was definitely the experience of a lifetime in terms of the terrain, scenery and wildlife. It totally exceeded my expectations. Tom has a knack for picking great destinations and putting together fun, well organized trips.
My family and I had the adventure of a lifetime. It was an incredible experience and Sawback did an excellent job. We would highly recommend the trip and Tom to everyone.