Svalbard - Backcountry Skiing and Sailing Adventure

Skiing at the
Edge of the World

Experience ski touring like never before. Skiing on pristine arctic peaks and voyaging on an expedition boat are just the beginning of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Ski at the edge of the world, far away from the crowded routes, about midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole. As you embark on this journey along remote, untouched, snowy paths under the midnight sun, your understanding of vastness will change with each passing day.

Svalbard, the edge of the world

Svalbard is a Norweigian archipelago 6 degrees south from the North Pole, 1,050 km (650 mi) away. Almost 60 percent of the archipelago is covered with glaciers, and the islands feature many mountains and fjords.

This chunk of land in the middle of the Arctic Ocean is where you’ll be skiing & sailing for 8 to 10 days. When you’re that north, we’re no longer talking about a ski & sail trip, we’re talking about a ski & sail expedition. It is one of those places where your imagination wanders to when you’re looking at the world map.

  • 78° TO 80° NORTH
The ski ascent on the Svalbard peaks is challenging yet extra rewarding at the same time.
The location of Svalbard on the full map of Europe.
The zoomed map of Svalbard.

Unlimited terrain under
the Midnight Sun


Be the first — or one of the first— to ascend and descend epic peaks jutting into the cobalt sky. The endless terrain is remarkably accessible.

Most of the skiing is consistent with low 30-degree angles, but steeper skiing can be found for anyone looking to challenge themselves.

A majestic snow field is just one of the environments you will encounter in Svalbard. Ski touring on the snowy coast of Svalbard.


During the week, snow covering the untracked lines can vary from dry Arctic powder to perfect spring corn. Committed ski-tourers will find beautiful runs within sight of the town, under 24 hours of daylight.

Ski slopes vary from low-angle open bowls to technical chutes — unique terrain offers something for every ski level.

Skiers boarding the boat after having a blast skiing Svalbard’s snow slopes.
The snow slopes on Svalbard can be rough sometimes.

A surreal experience awaits

A modern expedition on a traditional ship


While ski touring out of Longyearbyen is easy, getting deeper into the Svalbard wilderness takes some planning. Boats — sail or otherwise — are key for an adventure like this, providing flexibility and safety.

The boat accommodates 12 guests, but there’s also a four-member crew, a chef, and a couple of guides. The maximum number of guests being limited to 12 means that there will be smaller group sizes and an overall more comfortable experience on the boat!

Scenic climbs give way to long, beautiful runs back to the water, where a comfortable boat and a warm meal await you at the end of each day.

The boat taking you on this adventure around Svalbard has a four-member crew, a chef, a couple of guides, and you - the guests!
A sailor looking at the adventure coming ahead in Svalbard.


You will stay on a 150-foot, three-masted schooner called The Noorderlicht. This magnificent boat boasts over 100 years of history – originally built in 1910, she served in WW2 and is now an expedition boat. With her, you’ll sail countless coves and experience the archipelago the way it’s meant to be experienced!

The top view of the boat taking you on this backcountry skiing and sailing adventure in Svalbard.
The Noorderlicht is the name of the sailboat taking you on a lovely journey around Svalbard.

Your guides

Rob Coppolillo is an AMGA and IFMGA Mountain Guide. In fact, Rob’s one of the first 100 Americans to have earned international certification through the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA).

Tom Wolfe is an ACMG and IFMGA Mountain Guide. He guides year-round, with winters being a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations.

Your expert guiding team (up to 4 guides) is experienced in avalanche terrain and trained to handle any medical emergencies. Let your hospitable hosts ensure you have the best experience possible on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Rob Coppolillo is one of the guides for this Svalbard adventure, who is one of the first 100 Americans to have the IFMGA mountain guide certification. Tom Wolfe is an AMGA and IFMGA mountain guide who guides this adventure on Svalbard.
Betsy E.

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.

King Grant

Rob organized and led a great trip. Skiing, sailing on a tall ship, polar bears, 24hrs of daylight and great people–doesn’t get any better.

Alan J.

When Tom asked me 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. We always enjoy skiing with Tom, classic Canadian mountain guide, and Phil Wickens ,who was the expedition leader, was also fantastic and a wealth of knowledge! Save your pennies and sign up for 2020 – you won’t regret it…..

Margaret H.

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.

Dean P.

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.

Amy Godfrey

Rob was awesome. He did a great job making the most of our trip despite challenging wheather and a diverse group. The trip was great. The crew made an unforgettable trip even more unforgettable. Great food and amazing crew.

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