Go Berserker

Nothing is too wild for the adventure pilgrims who converge on Voss, Norway, for summer thrills

May 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
voss norway

Domain of the insane: base-jumping off the Beak, near Voss    Photo: Anders Vevatne Hereide/AFP/Getty Images

SIXTY MILES INLAND FROM BERGEN, in western Norway, the rustic ski village of Voss (pop. 14,000) sits quietly at the base of 3,825-foot Groseda Mountain on the shores of Lake Vangsvatnet. Until, that is, the annual Ekstremsportveko ("Extreme Sports Week") comes to town. From June 22 through 27, boaters and mountain bikers will swarm the festival tent to see if their killer moves made the daily highlight DVD, and Norway's best pop bands, like Surferosa, will take the stage. The annual expo features national competitions in downhill mountain biking and bouldering, but there are clinics for newbies, too. The truly intrepid should inquire about the local delicacy—smalahove, a sheep's head served eyes and all. Clearly, the berserker spirit is alive and well.
WHERE TO PLAY Voss offers up every variation of extreme you can imagine: Class III and IV rivers for rafting, Class IV and V rapids and waterfalls for steepcreeking, fjords for sea kayaking, scenic launchpads for sick air sports, and plenty of trails for trekking and mountain biking. Notch a first descent on a roadside creek, or huck off 30-foot Nosebreaker Falls. Kit up at the Voss Rafting Senter (011-47-56-51-05-25, www.vossrafting.no). For a full-day mountain-bike ride, jump the train to Finse, rent a rig at Finse 1222 (two-day rental, $56– $70; 011-47-56-52-71-00, www.finse1222.no), and pedal 55 miles home via the Rallarvegen, an abandoned dirt road with plenty of hills.

APRÉS–ADVENTURE The town's best nightclub is Pentagon, at the Park Hotel Vossevangen (011-47-56-51-13-22, www.parkvoss.no/english), but the best midsummer nights are reserved for a bonfire with friends on the beach, where you can watch the sun...stay up. Skinny-dipping is strongly advised.
WHERE TO STAY Fleischer's Hotel (011-47-56-52-05-00, www.fleischers.no) looks like it did when it opened in 1864, but its 90 rooms are bright with antique furniture and paintings by local artists. Better still, bring a small posse of two to four people and rent one of Fleischer's 30 kitchenette apartments right on Lake Vangsvatnet. Doubles run $217; apartments cost $145 to $235 per night.
HOW TO GET THERE To make the most of your stay in Voss, fly to Bergen on SAS (800-221-2350, www.scandinavian.net) or Iceland Air (800-223-5500, www.icelandair.com), then rent a car so you can launch your kayak into inviting whitewater or take classic walks—like one along the rim of Sognefjord, Norway's Grand Canyon. Visitnorway.com is an excellent site for planning your trip.