Aurland, Sognefjellet & Beitostølen Training Road Trip

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In these days xc-skiers are flocking to Sognefjellet for summer skiing. I really can’t think of any better place to be this time of the year when the sun is shining. It is not just about the skiing, the surroundings are out of this world beautiful, and if you are lucky with the conditions you can even skate on the morning crust all the way up to Fanaråken (2068 m.a.s.) or to other surrounding peaks. Staying at Sognefjellet for multiple days skiing twice a day is not for everyone, and I like to combine 2-3 days at Sognefjellet with a few days in Aurland on my way up, and a couple of days at Beitostølen on my way back to Oslo. Beginning of June is the perfect timing for this road trip, as the roads over Aurlandsfjellet and Valdresflye are open and there is usually sufficient snow for skiing at Sognefjellet.

If you have a week to spend in June, this is what I would do:

Friday

Drive to Aurland

Saturday-Monday

Take inspiration from Training Camp in Aurland and make sure to include a bicycle ride over Aurlandsfjellet to Lærdal and back and a run up Aurlandsdalen. Drive to Sognefjellshytta in the evening catching the sunset, via Øvre Årdal and the beautiful Tindevegen or via Sogndal and the equally beautiful Lustrafjorden.

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Nærøyfjorden, Aurland

Tuesday-Friday

Stay at Sognefjellshytta for easy access to the track, which starts right outside the cabin. The track is usually prepared for classic and skate twice a day, in the morning and the afternoon, and, depending on the amount of snow, is about 5-7 km long. Consider bringing your mountain/randonee skis if you want to explore more of the area, or take advantage of the morning crust for some off-track skating.

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Strava for details: Sognefjellet XC-skiing

Strava for details: Fanaråken crust skating

Drive to Beitostølen Friday afternoon, just in time to make a stop at Bakeriet i Lom for some carbo loading before they close for the day. If it’s your lucky day you catch a spectacular sunset when driving over Valdresflye to Beitostølen.

Saturday-Sunday

One of my most beautiful roller ski workouts I had at Beitostølen, starting from the village and rolling up to Valdresflye. The surroundings are hard to beat and the traffic not too bad if you start in the morning.

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Valdresflye

Strava for details: Beitostølen – Valdresflya roller ski

Finish off your training road trip with a run over Besseggen. Go for an early start from Gjendesheim in order to make the return by boat from Memurubu (if you are too slow, you just have to run back as well). This is the most legendary hike in the Norwegian mountains with a spectacular ridge section providing an amazing view of Gjendevatnet and Jotunheimen. Starting from Gjendesheim in stead of following the pack with boat to start from Memurubu, you get the ridge and most of the trail for yourself.

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Besseggen

Strava for details: Besseggen run

If a shorter run is more to your liking, go for Bitihorn, which is closer to Beitostølen and can be done in an hour. There are several trails to Bitihorn, the link below takes you to the peak from the south.

Strava for details: Bitihorn

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Running down from Bitihorn

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. 

Hafjell/Øyerfjellet

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Kriksfjellet

Nå er snøen endelig i ferd med å legge seg i Øyerfjellet og den for mange velkjente Hornsjørunden, tidligløypa med utgangspunkt fra Pellestova eller Sjøsetra/Hornsjøen, er kjørt opp og fylt med ivrige skiløpere. Når det etter hvert kommer mer snø og hele løypenettet er oppkjørt finnes det mange og, etter min mening, enda finere turer å velge i. Her skal du få et utvalg av mine favorittløyper – til ulikt bruk.

Søndagsturen, 36 km

Jeg starter alle mine turer fra Liesætra, rett nord for Mosetertoppen, men denne runden kan du hekte deg på fra flere steder som f.eks. Moseteråsen/Mosetertoppen, Pellestova, Nordseter og Sjusjøen.

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Hitdalen

Med start fra Liesætra går du først sørover over myrene forbi Moseteråsen/Mosetertoppen og sikter deg inn på bakkene opp til Buåsen. Dette er den første av to stigninger på denne rundturen. På toppen av Buåsen går du rett frem og passerer Nysetra før du kommer inn i og passerer alpinbakkene. Fra alpinbakken er det fantastisk utsikt oppover Gudbrandsdalen og mot fakkelmannen på andre siden av dalen. Herfra er det småkupert før du etter hvert får løypa fra Gaiastova inn fra høyre og du kommer frem til Ilseterlia (leilighetskompleks) og tar tunnelen under bilveien til Ilsetra og holder venstre for en lang slak nedoverbakke til Reinsvann. Dersom du starter på Pellestova kan du komme inn på runden her ved å ta den bratte utforbakken ned fra Pellestova (følg skilt mot Nordseter). Nede ved Reinsvann holder du deg på sørsiden av vannet for noen fine stakepartier bortover mot Nevelåsen. Om du starter fra Nordseter kan du komme inn på runden her. På Nevelåsen tar du til venstre og så til høyre i neste løypekryss mot Sjusjøen. Denne løypa følger du noen kilometer til du kommer til enden av Melsjøen. Her tar du til venstre langs vannet mot Snultra og deretter Kruggerudrenna. Fra Kruggerudrenna kommer turens andre stigning opp til Kriksfjell. Unn deg en avstikker for å få med deg selve toppen. Etter utforkjøringene ned fra Kriksfjell går du rett frem i neste løypekryss og følger Hitdalen over fjellet og ned mot Hitvegen, som du krysser og kjører videre ned mot Rautjønnskrysset og videre rett nedover til Liesætra.

Strava: Liesætra – Ilsetra – Nevelåsen – Melsjøen – Kriksfjell – Liesætra

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Marcialonga-intervaller

Dette er en økt med mye lett staketerreng kombinert med en saftig stigning. Økta kan komponeres på mange måter, men jeg foreslår å starte ferdig oppvarmet fra Nerlisætra (hvor Trolløypa krysser Hornsjøveien, rett ovenfor Liesætra). Herfra kan du først gå et eller to drag flatt/slak motbakke opp til Rognhaugen (4,6 km). Neste drag går flatt/slakt nedover fra Rognhaugen via Svartåsen til løypekrysset Indre Åa (3,6 km). Tredje drag er også i lett terreng og går fra Indre Åa til Steinsætra (4,3 km). I pausen går du et par minutter tilbake der du kom slik at du får en flying start inn i bakken som er neste drag og går fra Steinsætra og opp til Pølkrysset (1,5 km). I Pølkrysset tar du til høyre for øktas siste drag i lekent og lett terreng tilbake til Indre Åa via Stormyra (3,8 km). Herfra nedgåing tilbake til utgangspunktet for økta. Dersom man ønsker flere drag kan man alternativt gå rett frem i Pølkrysset og opp til Keiken (3,7 km), ta til høyre der og følge Trolløypa tilbake til Rognhaugen i lett terreng (5,5 km).

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Svartåsen

O2-intervaller

Dette er en av mine absolutte favorittøkter når formen er bra! Som med den forrige økta går jeg denne på mål i stedet for på tid, noe jeg synes er mye mer motiverende. Etter en god oppvarming starter økta løypekrysset Høgåssøkken, som ligger ca 2 km nedenfor Pellestova hvis du følger Trolløypa i motsatt retning. Herfra går det første draget opp til Høgåsen (dvs du følger løypa som tar til venstre dersom du kommer ned fra Pellestova). Etter full pupp opp til Høgåsen og over toppen. Som pause kjører du ned via Buåsen (dvs tar to ganger til høyre og følger Hafjell Skimaraton-løypa) til bunnen av utforbakken. Her snur du og går samme vei opp og tilbake. Denne bakken er lengre enn det første draget, så jeg velger ofte å dele bakken i to intervaller, hvor det siste draget slutter på toppen av Høgåsen. Som pause er det da bare å kjøre ned til Høgåssøkken og starte på’n igjen. Jeg kjører to “runder”, dvs seks drag, eller tar de siste dragene opp til Høgåsen, som på Strava-økta nedenfor.

Strava: Bakkeintervall over Høgåsen

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Fra Høgåssøkken mot Høgåsen

Fire topper og en vaffel, 76 km

Noen ganger må man gå litt lenger enn andre, dvs for min og Kajas del betyr det å stadig strekke den tradisjonelle påskelangturen litt lengre. De siste årene har Øyer Turskiløyper etablert nye løyper over topper i Øyerfjellet, hvilket selvfølgelig kan brukes som mål for turen. I år la vi runden om fire flotte topper i Øyer- og Lillehammerfjellet.

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Hafjelltoppen

Starten gikk fra hver vår hytte før vi møttes på turens første topp, Hafjelltoppen. Fra Hafjelltoppen tok vi strake vegen til Lunkefjell via Pellestova og Nevelåsen. Fra Lunkefjell er det noen morsomme utforkjøringer ned til Melsjøen, hvor vi tok løypa langs Melsjøen til Kruggerudrenna og opp til Kriksfjell (som Søndagsturen ovenfor). Etter litt fotoshoot kjørte vi ned til Hitdalen og tok skarpt til høyre opp til Grytfjellet. Dersom det er skare kan du kjøre rett ned fra Kriksfjell til Grytfjellet. Etter Grytfjellet siktet vi oss inn på Lienden for en velfortjent vaffelrast i sola. Turen gikk så over myra til Langmyråsen hvor vi tok Trolløypa motsatt vei til høyre mot Rognhaugen og videre til Kjerringknappen og turens siste topp, Storhaugen. Etter enda mer fotografering gikk vi tilbake til Kjerringknappen og tok ned til høyre til Indre Åa og videre via Svartåsen tilbake til Langmyråsen. Her tok vi til høyre og krysset Hornsjøveien ved Steinmyrhaugen. Etter å ha fulgt Kaja et stykke på veien tilbake mot Nordseter vendte jeg snuten hjemover til Liesætra. Denne rundturen kan du hoppe på mange steder, som f.eks. Mosetertoppen, Pellestova, Nordseter, Sjusjøen og Sjøsetra.

Strava: Fire topper og en vaffel

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Storhaugen

Solnedgang

Jeg har hatt utallige magiske (og iskalde!) ettermiddagsturer i solnedgang nord i Øyerfjellet. En variant er uværsløypa t/r Holmsetra fra Liesætra. En annen favoritt er Trolløypa motsatt vei til Keiken, f.eks med start fra Steinmyrhaugen, for så å time de rosa fargene på vei ned fra Keiken (i Trolløypa) til Steinsætra. Fra Steinsætra kan du gå uværsløypa tilbake til Svartåsen og ned til Steinmyrhaugen.

Strava: Elg i solnedgang

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Veslehaugen

Cross-Country Skiing in the Alps

 

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Seiser Alm

I was recently invited by Raske Gutter Podden (podcast) to talk about cross-country skiing in the Alps (you can listen to the podcast, which is in Norwegian, here). Since I may not be the only trailrunner enjoying cross-country skiing, I thought I would take the opportunity to share some information on my favorite places to do cross-country skiing in the Alps, as well as some fun races to attend.

So, let’s pretend we have a few weeks to hang around in the Alps with a fancy car loaded with our cross-country skiing equipment. Of course, you are allowed to bring alpine skis as well, and I will tell you where you can do both, but for the best information on downhill skiing you will have to find another guru.

Unless you already live in the Alps or nearby, you may choose to fly in to Munich Airport or, even better, Innsbruck. You can also fly to Zürich, Milan, Verona, or Venice. Make sure you rent a car with winter tires and enough space for your skis.

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The Roundtrip

First stop: Seefeld

There’s no better place to start your adventure than this season’s site for the cross-country World Championship, Seefeld in Tirol. Seefeld is situated on a sunny plateau high above Innsbruck, about 1200 meters above sea level and can be easily reached by train. The ski tracks start right in the middle of the city centre with several nearby hotels to choose from. We stayed at the four star St. Peter Hotel just across the street from the ski tracks and two conveniently located sport shops.

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The ski tracks from the hotel.

Tirol claims to offer a total of 4000 km of tracks throughout the region, many of them accessible from Seefeld or nearby villages. You will find easy terrain as well as long and tough ascents and can also try out the world cup tracks which will be used during the world championship in February/March 2019.

Strava for details: Hill workout towards Wildmoos

Race to join: Kaiser-Maximilian-Lauf, 12-13 January 2019 (classic technique and Visma Ski Classic on Saturday and free technique on Sunday).

More information on Seefeld here.

Second stop: Toblach (Dobbiaco) 

When you are ready to leave Seefeld behind, the Italian village of Toblach in south Tirol is a great choice. The drive from Seefeld takes about two hours and I recommend that you make a short stop for lunch and some shopping in Innsbruck on your way there. Toblach traditionally hosts one or more races forming part of the legendary Tour de Ski in January every year. The events are free for spectators and have a great atmosphere. During race days the world cup tracks will be closed for other than the athletes, but there are many other nearby tracks to choose from, including my favorite, the track from Cortina (Fiames Ski Arena) to Toblach, which is the same track being used for the men’s long distance during Tour de Ski as well as the Visma Ski Classic event (see below).

Once in Toblach, your obvious choice of accommodation may be the perfectly located Hotel Santer, which is basically on the ski arena, Apparthotel Germania for great breakfast as well as easy access to the ski arena, or the friendly Hotel Stauder, which also serves great food. Don’t miss out on Pizzeria Hans while in town!

Strava for details: Cortina – Toblach

Races to join: Pustertaler Skimarathon, 12 January 2019 and Toblach-Cortina 2-3 February 2019 (classic technique and Visma Ski Classic on Saturday and free technique on Sunday) and Gsieser Tal Lauf 16-17 February 2019 (classic technique on Saturday and free technique on Sunday).

Third stop: Val di Fiemme

In Tour de Ski the races in Toblach are usually followed by the final races in Val di Fiemme, and I suggest you follow the same route. Leaving Toblach you should plan for a stop in the sophisticated village of Cortina, stroll the pedestrian street and have lunch at San Brite (reservations recommended) before you enjoy the beautiful drive via Passo Pordoi to Val di Fiemme. Passing by Cortina and Canazei, this is also your opportunity to add a day or two of downhill skiing.

In Val di Fiemme my choice of hotel is the Castelir Suite Hotel, a quiet, intimate hotel with large rooms, great service and walking distance of the world cup ski arena at Lago di Tesero. Another option would be Hotel La Stua, a hotel popular among Norwegian skiers and the location of the massive Marcialonga after party. For lunch or dinner, try out the wine bar El Molin or La Stua.

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Watching Tour de Ski.

Although a traditional cross-country skiing race destination and the host of several world championships and the legendary Marcialonga, Val di Fiemme does not have that many options for cross-country skiing. In two days you have it covered, nevertheless, having a slightly more Italian flare to it compared to the other destinations, and the cozy village of Cavalese, it is worth a visit. On day one I suggest you try out the world cup tracks from the Lago di Tesero Nordic Ski Arena. If enough snow, tracks will also be open along the river from leaving the world cup arena. During Tour de Ski you may opt to participate in the Rampa con i Campioni, a race open to the public which is equal to the Tour de Ski finale and includes the monstrous climb up Alpe Cermis.

Strava for details: Rampa con i campioni

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The final climb, Rampa con i campioni.

On day two the tracks on the beautiful plateau of Passo Lavazè is worth a visit. Passo Lavazè is a beloved destination for participants of Marcialonga in the days leading up to the race and has easy as well as more strenuous tracks. Be aware though, that the plateau is about 1800 meters above sea level, which adds additional strain on the body. Thus you should save your speed for later.

Strava for details: Passo Lavazè

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Skiing at Passo Lavazè.

Races to join: Rampa con i campioni, 6 January 2019, Lavazeloppet, 24 January 2019 and Marcialonga, 27 January 2019.

Fourth stop: Seiser Alm (Alpe di Siusi)

Having had a taste of the altitude at Passo Lavazè the natural next stop is the paradise-like destination of Seiser Alm.  You can drive directly to Seiser Alm from Passo Lavazè, it is not the fastest route from Val di Fiemme, but for sure the most beautiful. For hotel options, check out my previous post on trailrunning in Seiser Alm here. If money is no issue, you may want to check out Adler Mountain Lodge.

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Grammable days in Seiser Alm.

Seiser Alm is the preferred location for many national teams when preparing for championships. On this high altitude plateau the perfectly groomed tracks are surrounded with spectacular mountains and huts and restaurants serving delicious food when taking a break in the sun. Highlights include sunset coloring the sky pink while cruising the longest loop facing the characteristic Schiliar mountain. If you did not know paradise, you do now. For more details on the about 80 km of tracks, go here and here.

If you are looking to do some downhill skiing on this road trip, Seiser Alm is a great starting point for skiing the Sella Ronda.

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The Panorama trail.

Strava for details: Panorama Trail, Sunny side up

Race to attend: Moonlight Classic, 23 January 2019.

Fifth stop: Pontresina – Engadine Valley

On your way from peaceful Seiser Alm to Pontresina in the Engadine valley in Switzerland I suggest you make a pitstop in either Bolzano or Meran for some nice Italian small-city vibe. The total driving time from Seiser Alm to Pontresina is about 3:30, mostly on regional roads. Take time to enjoy your surroundings. In Pontresina Hotel Rosatsch is a good option, located on the main street in short distance of my favorite hang out, Gianottis. Pontresina also has a few ok shops for cross-country skiing in case you find yourself in need of anything.

Processed with VSCO with au1 presetMy personal winter experience of the Engadine valley is unfortunately limited to the Engadine Ski Marathon tracks, , which provide for a great high-speed skating experience on the lakes in the valley before more hilly parts take you to the finish line in Pontresina. However, this area has much more to offer, including illuminated night tracks, all of which is surrounded by spectacular mountains. And I have been told that you should not miss out on skiing in Val Roseg, tracks starting from the Nordic ski arena near the train station in Pontresina. For more information, turn to this site. With St. Moritz right in the middle of it, this is naturally also the place to leave your cross-country skis behind for some downhill skiing, and, if you wish, some shopping.

Strava for details: Maloja – St. Moritz and return

Races to attend: La Diagonela, 19 January 2019 and Engadin Skimarathon 10 March 2019.

Sixth stop: Lenzerheide

On our way to Zürich Airport after Engadin Skimarathon we stopped in Lenzerheide to ski in the sun in their fairly new Nordic ski arena, financed mainly by an enthusiastic local family. I suggest you do the same driving from Pontresina to your final cross-country skiing gemstone, Davos. Drive early in the morning from Pontresina and grab a coffee (or even breakfast) at Bio-Alp Alesch near the Albula pass on the way. The driving time from Pontresina to Lenzerheide is less than 90 minutes. See strava link below for where we parked. This is also one of the places where you can access changing rooms. For more information, go to this site.

After exploring the trails, which run along the main street cutting through Lenzerheide, find yourself a nice spot in the sun for lunch while enjoying the view of the mountain sides hosting the world cup final for the downhill skiers in 2014.

Strava for details: Lenzerheide loop+ Instagram

Race to attend: Planoiras Folk Cross-Country Skiing Race, 13 January 2019.

Final stop: Davos

Saving the best for last! Davos is the centre of cross-country skiing in Switzerland and is regularly on the cross-country skiing world cup calendar. About 1550 meters above sea level, the altitude will have impact on your performance, but also ensures good skiing conditions during the winter season with some tracks opening already in October. This alpine resort town is surrounded with beautiful mountains providing great opportunities to take your alpine skis for a spin as well.

Although having visited Davos several times  during summer, I have never been there in the winter. Thus I turned to former top cross-country skier Tor-Arne Hetland for guidance on how to best explore Davos on skis. Of the three beautiful valleys you can ski, his number one choice is skiing up the Sertig valley. For some extra uphill you can ski via Junkerboden. When finally reaching the end of the valley you will find yourself in the middle of this typical alp idyll we are all dreaming of, surrounded with wooden huts and magnificent mountains. Drop in at Walserhuus or Bergführer and load up on Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce before you enjoy the downhill back to Davos. Note that the upper five kilometers are prepped only for classic technique.

Sertigtal on Instagram

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Sertigtal summer view from Walserhuus hotel.

Davos has loads of accommodation options. In the summertime, my choice has always been Walserhuus. During winter I would maybe opt for a hotel close to the Nordic ski arena, such as for example Hotel Bünda.

Go here for more on cross-country skiing in Davos.

Final notes

Obviously, most of us are not in position to do the whole roundtrip described above and many of the destinations described are worthy of being your one-stop for cross-country skiing in the Alps. Create your own roundtrips or combine one of the destinations with one of the many long distance ski races in the area. Realizing that I have missed out on the great cross-country skiing possibilities in Davos, this will for sure be on my 2019 bucket list, maybe combined with participation in the Sertig Classic race.

HAPPY WINTER!