Seiser Alm & Livigno training camp

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Me and Barbro climbing Stelvio.

Seiser Alm and Livigno are both beloved destinations for cross country skiing athletes of all levels. These two Italian alp villages complement each other in terms of character and facilities and make a great combination for a training vacation/camp. While Seiser Alm is quiet (and out of this world beautiful) and has amazing trails and scenery for running, Livigno is more of a happening place with (tax free) shops, cafés/restaurants and the best roller ski and biking opportunities.

Here you will get the details of the training we did during a 9-day September training camp as well as some alternatives tried out over the years. The purpose is to guide you to the best locations for performing various sessions, such as interval training and long low intensity sessions. Non of us being top level athletes, our choice of activities has been guided by a desire to explore the beautiful surroundings as well as obtaining great workouts. You may (and should) of course use the information provided to tailor your activities to your own level of fitness and purpose of the trip.

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Seiser Alm meadow.

Please note that both Seiser Alm and Livigno are high altitude destinations and your performance will be affected. In short this means you should go slower than you normally do on low-intensity activities and avoid doing much high intensity training, especially the first 3-4 days, and when introduced, preferably low threshold. More on high altitude training here (Norwegian). It is not uncommon to feel dizziness after a high altitude workout if you go too hard and you may not get full benefit of the rest of your training camp. 

Day 1 – Seiser Alm (arrival day)

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We started our camp in Seiser Alm. You can read more about Seiser Alm, including accommodation recommendations, here. Traveling to Seiser Alm from Norway (or any other place requiring you to fly) usually takes almost a day and you are lucky if you arrive by sunset. We arrived just in time to stretch our legs by doing a short and easy jog on the meadow which was covered with a thin layer of wet snow. That’s the thing about Seiser Alm. Its location more than 1800 meters above sea level means weather and temperatures change quickly and you can experience snow even during summer months.

Strava for details: Snowjogging on Seiser Alm

Day 2 – Seiser Alm

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Waking up on our first full day in Seiser Alm, the meadow was still covered in snow, but the sun was shining and we chose to go for the planned long run taking us over the Denti Rossi to Rifugio Alpe di Tires and the Schiliar/Schlern plateau. This is a beautiful long run which is always on my itinerary when in Seiser Alm. We started out running in snow, but by the time we were back on the meadow a few hours later summer temperatures had arrived. Take time for an espresso at Rifugio Alpe di Tires and lunch at Rifugio Bolzano

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Strava for details: Seiser Alm classic long run

In the afternoon we took the bus down to Kastelruth and did an easy uphill roller ski session. You can also do the same hill workout by taking the cable car from Seiser Alm to Seis, which adds about 140 meters of ascent. The climb has been used for tempo stages during Giro d’Italia and has a profile great for interval training on roller skis and beautiful views. 

Strava for details: Uphill roller ski session

Day 3 – Seiser Alm

 

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Roller skiing with a view.

On our third day we put on the roller skis again and took the cable car to Seis for an interval session. After warming up from Seis to Hotel Valentinerhof we did 7×6 minutes low threshold classic technique.

Strava for details: Rollerski interval: 7×6 min

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Bulaccia with a view of Sasso Lungo and Sasso Piatto

Our second session of the day we explored Bulaccia, the northern meadow of Seiser Alm, running with poles in the soft afternoon light. Some of us took the cable car going down to save the legs.

 

Strava for details: Bulaccia run

Day 4 – Seiser Alm

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Girls’ trip

The highlight of our stay in Seiser Alm was the long run around Sasso Piatto and Sasso Lungo. I would say this is the running equivalent to Sella Ronda on bike, providing you with amazing views of the Dolomites from so many angles. We took the bus to Saltria (about 5-10 minutes from Compatsch) and the Florian chair lift to Williams Hütte, from where we started our run 2100 m.a.s.l. and clockwise around Sasso Piatto/Sasso Lungo. We stopped for lunch at Rifugio Sasso Piatto and continued to Rifugio Alpe di Tires and returned to Compatsch through the Denti Rossi pass. This is truly an amazing run, which of course may be divided in several parts if you are not up for the full length of it. You can also extend the run by either adding the climb to the peak of Sasso Piatto or/and continue over the Schiliar plateau after Rifugio Alpe di Tires.IMG_0373

 

 

Strava for details: Sasso Piatto/Lungo and Denti Rossi

Day 5 – Transport via Stelvio to Livigno

The obligatory part of the transfer from Seiser Alm to Livigno is the mother of all roller ski workouts, the Stelvio climb. If you don’t have a support car, the practical way to do this session is to drive to the top of the Stelvio pass and take a bus down to your preferred side of the pass, either the Prato side or the Bormio side, leaving the car with warm clothes etc at the top. Each climb is great, with spectacular views and, if you can’t go easy on it, exhaustion guarantee. During this camp we did the Prato side, starting from Gomagoi at 1280 m.a.s.l., providing about 1500 meters of ascent and 18.5 km to the top of the Stelvio pass as 2575 m.a.s.l. We chose to tackle the climb by doing an interval session of 5×20 + 10 minutes below lactate threshold. 

Strava for details: Stelvio climb, Prato side

 

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Melina climbing Stelvio from the Prato side.

Strava for details: Stelvio climb from Bormio

 

Please note that the bus service on the Bormio side is only available in July and August. You may contact the bus service Perego for information. For bus down from Stelvio on the Prato side, go here.

If you prefer to conquer Stelvio on bike, you can rent a bike at Mapo Bike in Valdidentro (a few kilometers from Bormio). If you want to stay a few days to explore the area and perhaps tackle Stelvio running, skiing and biking, one of my favorite hotels in the Alps is just next to Mapo Bike, Alpen Hotel. Personally I had my best session in Stelvio running up from Bormio.

Strava for details: Stelvio run  

Day 6 – Livigno

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Livigno roller ski paths.

Livigno is roller ski mecca with an extensive network of cycle paths protected from the traffic as well as mountain passes where you can work on your O2 levels and return safely by bus if you don’t want to ski down or have a support car. On our first day in Livigno we chose to do an easy flat roller ski session to recover from the Stelvio challenge.

 

Strava for details: Livigno roller ski

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Favorite Livigno trails.

Livigno also has a tremendous network of trails for running as well as mountain biking. There is no limit other than your fitness level as to where you can go, and even if I have visited 5-6 times there are new trails to explore. Our favorite trail for short recovery runs is the trail just above the centre providing you with great views of Livigno. You can enter the trail directly from several places in the village or my preferred entry at the south end of the village, where you can also find parking. 

Strava for details: Livigno trail 

Day 7 – Livigno

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On our way to Corna di Capra.

After a “rest” day it was time to do a longer session again and we decided on a run that would take us to a +3000 meter peak, Corna di Capra. We chose to drive to the trailhead just south of the village (you can also run directly from the village). Although containing a lot of ascent this run also has long runable sections and truly beautiful surroundings as well as the added satisfaction of reaching the peak at 3016 m.a.s.l.

 

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Strava for details: Corna di Capra skyrun

 

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Marthe at the top of Corna di Capra.

For an alternative long run you can take the cable car to Costaccia from the city centre and run south along the ridge following trail 162 and then 157 passing Causello 3000 and Involt dali Resa before descending back to the city centre.

Strava for details: Livigno skyrun

Our second workout of the day was a double poling session, which included the climb up to Passo Eira. From Passo Eira you can take a free bus down to Livigno (check the schedule in advance). As an alternative to the Eira ascent you can also roll up to the Forcola pass.

Strava for details: Livigno & Passo Eira roller ski + Livigno – Forcola

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Afternoon roller ski session to Passo Eira.

Day 8 – Livigno

Towards the end of a training camp like this adjustments to the training plan may be adequate due to energy levels, strain on legs or other reasons. For some, including me, that meant replacing a running session with yet another roll to Passo Eira, this time using kicks and not just double poling. In the afternoon we did a strength session.

Strava for details: Passo Eira roller skiing

Day 9 – Livigno

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Val Federia.

Last full day in Livigno and the training plan said low threshold running in Val Federia. Low on energy and with the rain pouring down, I chose to go easy on the trails instead. However, Val Federia is great for this kind of effort and having done a similar workout in 2016, I still have the appropriate Strava details to guide you. To reach Val Federia you can either drive to the parking provided at the trailhead, or run from the hotel as warm-up. Remember the altitude and go easy!

 

Strava for details: 5x(5x1min/15sec) running with poles

Livigno Accommodation & Restaurants

When in Livigno my choice of hotel is Hotel Larice, which is one of several hotels forming the Bivio Life Livigno group, where you can find Hotel Bivio (often used by the Norwegian national team) and Alpen Village Hotel, which specifically caters towards training groups of all sports. Larice is a small eco boutique hotel with amazing atmosphere, great rooms, personal service, superb breakfast and the best location. I love to hang out in the coffee bar out front in between training sessions.

My three favorite restaurants are all in or close to Hotel Larice: The burger restaurant Why Not, in via Botarel (across the street from Larice), Focolare, the pizzeria next door, and the restaurant at Larice, which serves sushi as well as Italian dishes.

Cycling in Livigno

Livigno has an amazing downhill bike park (never tried) and is often used for training camps by top level athletes of both road cycling and mtb. Bikes can be rented from several bike shops in Livigno. If you are into climbs and mountain passes see the strava link below for a beautiful ride my friend Maren did, going from Livigno over Passo Eira to Bormio and up to Passo Stelvio and via Passo Fuorn back to Livigno. Another alternative is the course of the ICON ironman triathlon taking place in Livigno in August, which takes you up to the Forcola pass, into Switzerland to climb the Bernina Pass before going down to St. Moritz and Zernez and via the Fuorn, Stelvio and Foscagno passes back to Livigno.

Strava for details: Long ride – Foscagno, Stelvio, Fuorn

For a beginners mtb trail, try the circuit we did with Fabrizio at MTB Livigno a few years back.

Strava for details: MTB flow

Getting There

Munich, Zürich and Innsbruck are convenient airports to fly into if you would like to combine Seiser Alm and Livigno. Innsbruck makes for a shorter drive, but often you have to accept transfer flights to get there. You will need to rent a car.

Munich Airport – Seiser Alm: 3:30, Zürich Airport – Seiser Alm: 4:30 and Innsbruck – Seiser Alm 1:45. Munich Airport – Livigno: 4:30, Zürich Airport – Livigno: 3:15, Innsbruck – Livigno: 2:45. The drive from Seiser Alm to Livigno is about 3 hours. 

My Favorite Hikes – Tysfjord

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I have been looking so much forward to sharing these two “secret” hikes with you. Well, the first one, Kjerna, may not be so secret to the locals, but for sure many of you have already passed by without knowing that you just missed the northern equivalent to the insta-famous Prekestolen and Trolltunga.

Kjerna

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Kjerna seen from west.

When I was a child I used to go fishing with my grandfather in the fjord under Kjerna. The tale goes that one day it would fall down, so I was always a little bit scared it would happen as we passed by. Recently I learned that this was not something my grandfather came up with. Movements around Kjerna have been monitored during the years, however without raising any red flags yet.

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Kjerna from east watching the sun go down. This was at about 10pm mid-July.

Kjerna is in Tysfjord, the municipality of the national mountain, Stetinden, accessible  directly from E6. The trailhead can be found on the west side, about 9.5 km north of Skarberget, where the ferry arrives if you are arriving from the south. There is a parking space on the east side of the road (see map below and link to Strava).

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Stetinden to your left.

The main reason for adding Kjerna to your bucket list is obviously the view. And it comes surprisingly cheap. The hike is less than two kilometers (each way) on relatively easy trails and with about 400 meters of elevation gain. Once at the top you have amazing views and can easily spot Stetinden looking east. If you have the chance, I would recommend to do the hike in the late evening. There is nothing like watching the sunset from the peak.

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Viewpoint on the east side of Kjerna, looking south with a view of Skrovkjosen.

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From Kjerna you can continue towards Stortinden or drop down to about 500 m.a.s. to take the marked trail from the pond. For more on the Stortinden hike, go here.

Stortinden

Strava for details: Family hike to Kjerna

Eide Ridge Line Running

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Running the ridge with Eidtinden and Stortinden as backdrop.

So, to something even more special to me, and maybe the most beautiful place I ever run. From the age of six, I spent the whole summer with my grandparents in Eide, a tiny place just beneath Kjerna and Stortinden, about 3.5 km drive from E6, turning left about 6 km north of Skarberget. There is a small parking about 100 meters before you reach Eide. Leave your car here and walk to the second house on your right hand. From here, walk straight up the lawn between the houses and look for the trail, which is slightly to your right when leaving the lawn walking uphill, and to the left of the cabin in the right corner where the forrest starts.

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This is how you know you are on the right track. If you turn around just before you find the trailhead, this is what you see. You will leave the road between the two houses to the left in this picture.

After about another 100 meters you reach the climb which is marked with red dots. You reach the ridge (Eidskaret) after about 600 meters steep climb with 200 meters elevation gain (the last part on rocks) and get a spectacular view of Eidtinden right in front of you. Already at this point you have marvelous views towards Ofoten (south) and Efjorden (north). From here, but after having made a loop around the pond, with your back to where you came from, you go left (west). It is not easy to find the trail, but if you seek the highest point on the ridge line you will find it eventually. If not, don’t worry, the terrain is easy to run off-track as you continue as far as you please towards the end of the ridge.

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The pond with Eidtinden as backdrop.

If you are as lucky as me, you may meet dozens of reindeers.

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View of the ridge facing Eidtinden, Stortinden and Kjerna, with your starting point down to your right and Stetinden in the upper right corner.

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View of Efjorden

Please note that this hike should not be done when it is wet as the rocks can be very slippery. Also, take note of the spot where you are leaving the marked trail (below the pond) to ensure you find the right way back down (you should not leave the path in the steep sections).

Strava for details: Very special skyrun

Oh, if my aunt is at home in the white house you pass on your left when starting the hike, say hi!

Andøya – Arctic Road Trip Day 8 and 9

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Høyvika, Andøya

Andøya is one of the islands forming the Vesterålen archipelago. In the summer you can take advantage of the ferry connecting Andøya and Senja, which makes for a scenic road trip along the coast as opposed to the main inland route, E6. 

Andøya has amazing beaches and is a great playground for road cycling, roller skiing, trailrunning and kayaking. It also offers tourist attractions such as whale safari, bird safari and the Aurora Space Ship, which unfortunately is closed down in 2019. 

I was there for the amazing trails around Måtind, a much photographed peak just south of the fishing village, Bleik, and to go roller skiing along the national scenic route on the west coast of Andøya. 

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Måtinden, with the view of the bird island, Bleiksøya.

The Trails

The coastal trail from Bleik to Stave, which passes Måtinden at 408 meters above sea level, is about 9 km. You can also reach Måtinden from Baugtua, a trailhead starting from a parking about midway on FV976 between Stave and Bleik.

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I did a return run to Måtinden from Stave beach and added a loop on the plateau behind Måtinden. From Stave most of the climb is at the beginning of the run, providing you with magnificent views of the Stave beach and village from the start and, after the first steep climb, you are rewarded with a great view of the beach Høyvika. To reach Måtinden you continue north. It is not always obvious where the path goes, but unless you are caught by the fog (as I was at the end of the run) it is easy to see where you are going and the terrain is easy and fun to overcome off-track. Once at the peak of Måtinden you have great views of Bleiksøya, a small characteristic bird island housing thousands of puffins as well as eagles. 

Strava for details: Måtinden trail runIMG_0470

 

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Rollerskiing and cycling

The national scenic route   along the west coast is almost flat and excellent for rollerskiing as well as cycling. I jumped out of the car at the west junction of FV974 and FV973 and roller skied the 30 kilometers to Stave beach, where we had rented an apartment (see below). After about 12 kilometer you reach the view point Bukkekjerka, and after another 10 kilometer you ski on a breakwater with the ocean on your left and the Skogvoll lake on your right. Another 7 kilometer and you reach the village of Stave while the road continues for additional 20 kilometers all the way up to Andenes, if you would like to go further.

Strava for details: Andøya rollerskiingProcessed with VSCO with l5 preset

 

Where to Stay

We stayed at Stave Camping in a one-bedroom fully-equipped apartment (sleeps 6) called the Shipwreck. The location was absolutely great and if you have the weather on your side, this is the place to be for sunset/midnight sun.

The Drive

The drive from Nyksund to Stave is about 2.5 hours and 140 kilometers. You will pass by Sortland again. Please see previous post on information about Sortland. Make sure you take time to stop at the view points provided, such as Bukkekjerka (mentioned above) and, when driving to Andenes for the ferry to Senja, Kleivodden.

The ferry between Andenes in Andøya and Gryllefjord in Senja takes about two hours and runs only in the summer. You can check the schedule here.

Nyksund in Vesterålen – Arctic Road Trip Day 7

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Queen’s Trail, Nyksund

Continuing north on our arctic road trip, our next destination is Nyksund, a small fisherman’s village in the Vesterålen archipelago, north of the more famous Lofoten archipelago. The traditional fisherman’s village slowly fell into disuse, but is now an active and creative place with artists and tourism businesses. My reason for going there was to run the Queen’s trail between Nyksund and Stø.

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Happy trailrunner!

The Queen’s Trail

The Queen’s trail between the two fiserman’s villages of Nyksund and Stø is a round trip of about 17 kilometers. Due to steep parts it is recommended to run the mountain part of the trail from Nyksund to Stø and the coast part coming back to Nyksund (anti-clockwise). I did the opposite direction, which also worked out fine, but would do the “correct” direction if I got the chance again. With small kids I recommend to take the coastal trail only. The highest point on the round trip is Finngamheia 448 m.a.s.l.

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Skipssanden

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View of Skipssanden

The trail takes you to the beautiful beach Skipssanden, the view of which you can also enjoy from the mountain part of the trail. The beach is a short hike from Stø in case you don’t have the time to do the full hike.

The Queen’s route was broadcasted as part of NRK’s summer program “minute by minute” with the outdoor celebrity Lars Monsen last year, and you can watch one of the episodes and the beautiful scenery here. This is one of my absolute favorite trails in Norway. There is no boring moment and if you do the hike in the evening you may be all alone on the trail and even see the midnight sun.

Strava for details: Nyksund – Stø – Nyksund

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The climb from Stø.

Accommodation

Truth be told, we did not enjoy our choice of accommodation, which was Holmvik Brygge, where we stayed at “Giseløya” with shared bathrooms. Although the place does indeed have an interesting historic vibe, it does not provide value for money in our opinion. I would recommend to try out other alternatives, suggested here, or stay at the camping ground in Stø.

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Stø

The Drive

The drive from Nordskot harbor to Nyksund is 250 kilometers and takes about 5 hours, including the ferry from Bognes to Lødingen. I recommend a stop in Sortland, where you can grab a bite at Miscela Kaffebar and stock up on snacks and other groceries. If open (check the website), I also suggest stopping at Eldhusbakeriet, a few kilometers south of Sortland.

Manshausen – Arctic Road Trip Day 5 & 6

Processed with VSCO with g6 presetNext up on the Arctic Road Trip itinerary is Manshausen. You may already have seen pictures of the award-winning sea cabins on the island Manshausen on Instagram, blogs or in magazines. Manshausen is owned by the explorer Børge Ousland and is a unique destination if you want to experience nature, whether by simply sitting in your private sea cabin watching the ocean flow by or whether padling, hiking, running, diving, fishing or other activities are your thing. I applaud initiatives like Manshausen, which really takes traveling to a new level.

The fairy tale at Manshausen starts from the minute you are being picked up by boat at the harbor in Nordskot. The wind in your face during the short boat trip promises a fresh and different experience, which certainly continues as you walk into the sea cabin. You may feel like never wanting to leave.

The Cabins

The seven sea cabins provide compact living Scandinavian style and consist of a small bedroom with a 140cm bed and a single bed underneath, corian bathroom and a main room with a walkthrough corian kitchen, a 160cm bed in the back and living room in the front. There is nothing like waking up here in the morning! Be warned that in the summer 24 hours of daylight may mess up with your sleep. The curtains provided do not help with that.

You may cook your own food in the cabin, have lunch/dinner at the restaurant, or you can grill outside at one of the campfires provided. Breakfast is included and served at the main house, where you can also find a library/living room.

Activities

Although you may not want to leave your cabin, there are so many cool things to do at Manshausen. First on my agenda was to explore the beautiful white sanded beaches around Manshausen by kayak. And of course, I checked out some of the trails on the mainland. My choice as a hike/run to Sørskottinden, which takes you along a pretty steep trail in the forest up to a small lake, which provides Steigen with drinking water (bathing prohibited). From the lake and going further up you get a great view of Steigen and the Lofoten islands across the fjord. From Sørskottinden you can also continue along the ridge towards Nordskottinden. For the ridge a guide and proper equipment is advised and may be arranged with Manshausen.

Strava for details: Sørskottind

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View from Sørskottinden

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Nordskottinden and Sørskottinden

Another great run is “Dronningruta” (the queen’s trail) over Fløya, which starts at Skånland and takes you to Holkestad. The drive to Skånland from Nordskot is about 40 mintues.

You may also choose a more chill approach and try out the hot-tub and cool off in the saltwater pond. There is also a sauna next to the pond.

More on the activities offered here.

Getting there

If you have followed my itinerary, traveling to Manshausen from Rødøy takes about six hours in addition to the ferry, which takes between 40 minutes and two hours, depending on the schedule. I would therefore recommend adding another overnight stay on the road, especially since there are so many things to see and do along the road (make sure you get a glimpse of the glacier Svartisen I had planned to run up to Sandhornet in Gildeskål, and stayed overnight at Saltstraumen. Unfortunately, weather prevented me from doing the hike/run and Saltstraumen wasn’t that interesting, so I would recommend to search for other accommodation alternatives for example in Gildeskål.

Make sure you make a stop at some of the view points established along the road, such as Ureddplassen, Storvika and Gildeskål.

Manshausen is also worth the trip in its own. More on how to get there here: http://www.manshausen.no/en/travel-to-manshausen/