The Best Undiscovered Ski Resorts in Europe: Riksgränsen, Sweden

Where it's more about skiing than the scene

Mar 8, 2013
Outside Magazine

Riksgränsen in the warmer months.    Photo: jeaneeem/Flickr

With only a smattering off buildings and six lifts, Riksgränsen is not so much a town or ski resort as it is a stop on the railroad tracks in the middle of nowhere. Situated 122 miles north of the Arctic Circle along the mountainous border between Sweden and Norway, Riksgränsen is the world’s northernmost ski resort and claims to receive the most precipitation in Sweden, averaging 16 feet of snow per year. It’s also Scandinavia’s top freeride destination. Though the vertical drop is a mere 1,300 feet and the resort counts only 100 acres of groomed runs, the off-piste terrain is cliffy and steep, and hazards are not well-marked. Each May, the Scandinavia Big Mountain Championship is held on Riksgränsen’s hike-to terrain known as Nordallsfjall, which features 50- to 55-degree cliff-littered shots.

With access to over 100 peaks and 3,000 miles of skiable terrain, Riksgränsen’s big draw is heliskiing, some of the best—and cheapest—in Europe. Mountain Guide Travel operates the only heliskiing outfit in Riksgränsen. You’ll ski 3,000-foot wide-open faces and bowls in an unrestricted zone about the size of Holland and populated only by reindeer. Mountain Guide Travel offers the Arctic Combo, a sweet, 7-day heliskiing/ski-touring/off-piste package that splits time between Narvik and Riksgränsen, and the mountains that surround them. There’s only a few hotels in Riksgränsen—most people stay at the Hotel Riksgränsen, which is about 300 feet from the ski lift—and a few cafes, so picking where to eat and sleep shouldn’t be difficult. Fly into Kiruna, Sweden, and take the train to Riksgränsen.