Loipers plans for 2021 – ski touring at Mosstrond, Norway

Hello Loipers and other Nordic skiing enthusiasts. This is my attempt to bring together the Zoom talk and some of the photos of Mosstrond that I showed on 21st May (Alan Mitcham). This is our planned venue for next year’s Norway trip, flights and travel restrictions permitting.

Mosstrond is an old schoolhouse on an island in Mossvatn to the west of Rjukan in southern Norway. It is currently run as an outdoor centre and used as a base for Nordic ski touring over the winter season. It is a favourite venue for Exodus who have groups at Mosstrond on typically 3 or 4 weeks of every winter. It is also much favoured by several Loipers including Martin Read who is one of the shareholders who bought the schoolhouse from the Norwegian authorities after it closed in 2002. More about the area and its history will be found on the website http://www.mosstrondturisthytte.com/

Neil Waters and I first stayed at Mosstrond in 2017. We took 3 days to ski from Rjukan (a story in itself) having been on the Loipers holiday at Kvitavatn. Skiing from Skinabu on our third day we had our first view of the island from a hilltop promontory jutting into the lake.

The island of Hovden with the southern part of Hardangervidda plateau in the background

The island rises from the lakeshore at an altitude of 900m up to its summit at about 1000m. It is about 2km long and a bit more than 1km at its widest. There is plenty of scope for day touring on relatively gentle ski terrain, and plenty of scope for skiing more challenging summits. For an easy day tour, you can ski across and over the smaller islands to the south and onto the main shoreline, where you can explore the wooded hillsides or climb to the top of Falkenuten at 1100m. More to the south-west, there are more wooded hillsides and a hanging valley leading to a dramatic col at about 1150m with wonderful scenery and great skiing.

Skiing across to the next island
Wooded slopes below Falkenuten
Looking back from Falkenuten summit – the south arm of Mossvatn and the three islands
Plenty of snow!
Heading back to Mosstrond and the island of Hovden

Apart from the schoolhouse, the island has a farm and its own church. Until a few decades ago, Mosstrond was the centre for the community that lived and farmed all around the lake.

The main school building (centre) and the ski store and workshop on the left
Headmasters house and balcony overlooking the lake

Mosstrond is perfectly comfortable and has a lovely friendly atmosphere. The food is excellent. Typically there will be 2 or 3 people to a room. There are communal showers and toilets. It is not en-suite! If all goes well, we expect to be there next year in the second half of March.

Some of us were there also in 2018 and we did some more challenging routes including skiing to the summit of Kvamsfjellet (nearly 1500m) which was an excellent day (albeit a long one) with about 5km of skiing to the northeast shoreline before starting the ascent. Also we explored some of the vast area of skiable hills to the west of the island.

As well as the daily ski touring, we are hoping to organise some winter skills training, which will take place over 2 or 3 days (probably) as part of the Mosstrond week, for anyone who wishes to participate. Winter navigation, snow-holing, avalanche awareness, safety skills and decision making… discussions are currently under way with a UK provider, Dan Morgan, who is well qualified to lead a course covering all of these aspects.

And, as a follow-on from the Mosstrond week, some of us will be doing a hut touring trip (probably about 9 days) heading north across the Hardangervidda to finish at the railway line at Finse.

If you would like to sign up for the Mosstrond week (and perhaps for the hut touring or the winter skills course) please get in touch with Alan Mitcham or Neil Waters.