Norway is a country that is well know for its high level of social equality and famous for its landscapes. In recent years, it has been known to attract tourists seeking to get a glimpse of the aurora borealis. And as a country recognized for its Winter Olympians as well, I was keen to experience skiing here. Where better to go than Trysil – Norway’s largest ski resort. This ski resort operated by Skistar occupies one mountain and is located about 200km northeast of Oslo, and close to the town of Innbygda.
The whole ski area can largely be split into 2 separate sides, with one being the larger Turistsenter side and the Høyfjellssenter side, with both sides sharing the same summit. Most guests would probably start skiing from the Turistsenter where there are more parking available for day skiers along with more facilities.
To get to Trysil, the quickest way is perhaps to rent a car with the journey taking around 2 hours. From Oslo Bus Station, skiers could also take a bus to Trysil, with the bus making stops at Elverum along the way and the journey taking about 2 hours and 30 minutes. With mainly highway traffic and nearly no switchback passes to overcome, the route is fairly straightforward and should be easy for most drivers.
CHAIRLIFTS & GONDOLAS
There are no gondolas in Trysil, as vertical ascent here is not as tall as the usual ski resorts in the Alps. The highest capacity chairlifts here are 6-seater high speeds, with one serving the Høyfjellsssenter side, 2 in the Turistsenter area, one serving Høgegga and one in Skihytta.
Amongst these, the Skihytta Ekspress and Toppekspressen on the Høyfjellssenter side have bubble covers to shield its occupants from the cold and wind. Both of them meet at the highest lift accessed point in the mountain, with the peak of Trysil topping out at 1,132m.
Two 6-seater chairlifts are accessed from the Turistsenter area, with the Liekspressen serving easy green runs while the Fjellekspressen runs above the snowpark and the red runs. Another chairlift serves the Høgegga area where several black piste are located. One 4-seater chairlift called Knetta connects the base of the Snow Park at Turistsenter to the mountain restaurants at Knettsetra while a 2-seater chairlift serves the black piste no 30 at Høgegga.
Finally, the majority of the resort is actually served by T-bars. For snowboarders, T-bars are not exactly the best method of going uphill, but for skiers, T-bars and chairlifts are sure convenient for the short vertical ascent. Skiers staying at the Høyfjellssenter side actually has to take T-bars before being able to ski at all since all the base area are served only by T-bars. Then there are T-bars like the Hesten and Høgegga that serves steeper black runs.
COST & VALUE
A one-day adult ski pass costs EUR47 per person, while a 4-day pass can be purchased for EUR166. Normally, the ski resort operator, Skistar sells accommodations and lift pass packages that would be worthwhile, since it allows the booking of apartments and chalets for larger ski groups.
Prices are slightly on par with some of the larger Alpine resorts and closer to prices in Switzerland. In addition to the limited vertical ascent, lift infrastructure and thus shorter pistes, the costs can seem to be expensive at first glance. While Norway does have a shorter day time in winter, lift opening hours are still between 9am to 3:30pm for the peak winter season. This is just 30 minutes shorter than the usual 4pm closing at other Alpine resorts.
As a resort with milder slopes, there are plenty of green piste here. With many families coming here to vacation, this resort has excellent facilities for children on their first ski lesson! Both the Radisson resorts at the base of Turistsenter and Høyfjellssenter are next to T-bars with bunny slopes. And over in the bottom of the Turistsenter, the magic carpet learning area is far away from all the ski action, ensuring a quiet and undisturbed place to learn.
In the Høyfjellssenter area where most of the piste are green, the slopes are perfect for beginners! Many of the gentle slopes would be great for skiers but less so for snowboarders as they may get stuck easily. In fact some of the green piste that traverses the mountain are so mild they can be a bit like a cross country ski route. Otherwise the green piste on Høyfjellssenter is very good for beginners training to progress on their skill as several of the green slopes open for night skiing on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. More time on the slopes is always good right?
On the Turistsenter side of the mountain the very easy green pistes are usually for traversing and occupies less of the slopes but the skiing around the Liekspressen chair is a mix of green and blue runs. These longer runs are wide and lined with trees, making them very beautiful settings for beginner skiers to learn and upgrade their skills! I would have loved skiing faster learning under these conditions is what I am saying here.
With 4 colour coded pistes from green being the easiest, the blue and red pistes can be considered the intermediate runs. Under this distinction, I would tend to rate the blue pistes here as easier pistes that most beginners should have no problem with as the snow condition here is good and the slopes are milder. Thus the true intermediate pistes that are of interest would probably be the red pistes from the summit that runs down alongside the Toppekspressen into Høyfjellssenter and the Skihytta Ekspress into Skihytta.
Doing these runs in the morning allows one to get a view of the marvellous sunshine as well on a clear day. The only thing to take note here is the wind conditions which can be harsh considering there is no other mountains around Trysil.
Red marked intermediate pistes also run from the top of the Fjellekspressen to the base in Turistsenter. These runs are long and lined with trees on both sides making them a great piste for skiers who are progressing and challenging themselves. Or if you are not that confident, there are the blue pistes that goes down to Knettsetra. Equally beautiful and lined with snowy trees, these blue runs are straightforward until past Knettsetra when it zig-zags down towards Høgegga. Due to the narrow and slightly steep sections at the lower part, I find they are better suited for more confident intermediates rather than beginners.
The other major area filled with plenty of nice red intermediate pistes is the upper part of Høyfjellssenter, with the pistes under the Toppekspressen making for a very nice long run. With this piste located at the other side of the mountain, it can be the alternative run to the red pistes in the Skihytta area depending on which side the winds are blowing harder.
Trysil might look like a mild mountain but it does have some steep sections, specifically around the Høgegga area. The Høgekspressen chairlift serves piste 76, which is a nice run with steep and moguls sections that offers some fun for expert skiers.
Whichever way down, from the top, there are multiple avenues back to the base of Høgekspressen and skiers even can take the T-bar back up if for easier access to the Svart’n dual chairlift allows skiers to ascend higher up for tree-less skiing down the black piste 75 that leads all the way back to the base of Høgegga. Beware though, piste 75 is probably one of the steepest run in Trysil with a 45-degree incline.
Another T-bar at the top also provides a short cut back to Høyfjellssenter from Turistsenter, though it is also the way to ride down the steep piste 28.
BACKCOUNTRY & TERRAIN PARK
Besides the normal piste, Trysil has set up timed slalom courses as ski racing is usually a big thing in European ski resorts. Many have some sort of timed slalom courses in the busiest part of the piste. The one in Trysil is right by the Fjellekspressen chairlift in the Turistsenter.
There are new terrain parks at the base of the Fjellekspressen in addition to banks for big air jumps accessible from the top of the Sindretrekket T-bar. These dedicated pistes for park riders and for freestylers makes Trysil one of the more complete ski resorts I have seen in Europe so far. In many of the Alpine resorts, their large terrain size meant the terrain park (if any) just gets lost in the midst of it all.
Finally, Trysil offers some backcountry or off-piste fun as well especially at the top of the mountain where there are no trees to guide your path. In essence the milder slopes at the top and the fact that going down in most directions would lead you back to a chairlift base meant that the mountain is truly one to discover. Which is why you want to head up for first chair after a snowfall here for the fresh tracks!
Because the whole mountain is not very tall, skiers do not really have long transfer times to get to the top of the mountain. In that sense, it really negates the need for a mid mountain ski lodge. There isn’t even shelter here at the top of the Skihytta Ekspress and Toppekspressen chairlift here. Instead the major congregation of lodges here is at Knettsetra located between the top of Fjellekspressen and Høgegga. With easy to read signs, it is easy to find this secluded spot in the midst of the forests. Skiers can find a restaurant lodge, a pub, a hut serving refreshments and snacks and restroom facilities here. This spot would open up as well during night skiing since the illuminated slopes starts from here back to Turistsenter.
Another small spot for food and beverages is the Skipaviljongen located midway along piste 58 underneath the Toppekspressen in the Høyfjellssenter side of the mountain. This small pavilion shaped lodge is quite small with limited spaces for food though it has restrooms as well making it a great stopover point to meet up with your friends while skiing.
Most of the ski lodges on the mountain are small and usually consists of one level for seating. Even then, I usually have no trouble finding a seat as many skiers find it more convenient to get back down to the Turistsenter or to the village in Høyfjellssenter where there are more choices for dining, with the possibility to get or change your gear if required. After all, the on-mountain lodges do not have any ski rental branches or shops if you need to get replacement face mask or gloves or change your skis.
If skiers really seek a space to rest or just have a cup of hot chocolate to warm your bodies, the lodges at Knettsetra is the preferred space as they provide more seating and have a really cozy ambience that really distinguish it as a true Nordic ski hut.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
If there is anything boring about Trysil, it is perhaps the cuisine served on the mountain lodges. English menu is not always obvious here and burgers seems to make up like more than 50% of the food served in the lodges here. Skiers who do not want to have burgers have little else to choose aside from goulash or french fries. Prices for soup and side dishes range from NOK100-120 (~$12-15) while burgers costs between NOK170-210 (~$21-28).
Sweet snacks here are usually waffles with whipped cream and chocolate/berry sauce. Or maybe a cup of hot chocolate with cookies. There was not any fancy dessert counter on the cafeteria here so the limited lunch menu was one of the downside here.
Cost of food here can be quite expensive especially if you need a 3-course meal for lunch since prices are slightly higher than most ski resorts I have been too. With the limited choices and pricey offerings, it might be worth it to bring some granola bars and have an early dinner after skiing.
Both mountain base here are not as well developed as other major ski areas though there are plenty of ski-in/ski-out properties. The area below Skihytta is home to plenty of individual chalets and apartments. There are lodges and chalets in Høyfjellssenter as well.
While there seems to be plenty of lodges, many seems to be private residences as searching for accommodation through Air BNB did not yield much results. For skiers visiting from out of the country, the most convenient places would probably be the 2 Radisson Blu Resorts in Turistsenter and Høyfjellssenter. Alternatively there are other smaller independent hotels in the town of Innbygda like Trysil Hotel that skiers could choose from.
Skiing in Norway ends earlier than in many other places due to the sun setting much earlier here. By 5pm, the sky is dark and thus the last lift up ends at around 3:30pm. That leaves plenty of time for skiers to do other stuff before dinner. And with the resort having such a small base, the places to unwind after a day at the slopes are limited as well. Aside from a couple of pubs at the base of the Turistsenter below the Fjellekspressen chairlift, the next best alternative lies in the Radisson Blu Resort lobby.
In the Høyfjellssenter there is a restaurant and cafe at the village but the atmosphere is non-existent and the nicer place to hang out would probably be the Stabben After-ski in the Radisson Blu Mountain Resort over there.
Fortunately on 3 days of the week (Tuesday, Friday and Sunday) there is night skiing at the Høyfjellssenter with the slopes around several T-bars being illuminated.
On the Turistsenter side, the slopes around the Sindretrekket T-bar is lit up and that allows the aprés-ski crowd to head down to Stallen bar in Knettesetra before skiing back down to the base. Aprés-ski in Norway is not wild though, especially since Trysil has plenty of families so expect skiers to just chill by the bar over drinks. Thus, there is no need to fear rowdy crowds here, for there is just mild-mannered fun all around after the slopes close for the day.
At just 1,132m tall, the summit of Trysil does not impose visions of majesty. And without any other tall peaks around it, the views from the top are that of Norway’s rural countryside. Low hills surrounded by forests are more or less the view here.
While the views might be uninspiring, the light here makes the scene beautiful. Unless you finish skiing after lunch time, most skiers can expect a beautiful sunset when the day is clear. With a later sunrise and an earlier sunset, it is easy to catch the view under the best light and that is my best memories of skiing in Trysil.
Having the experience of skiing in some of the world’s best slopes, I thought I have experienced all there is to skiing. In Trysil, I discovered that there is a certain charm to skiing in Norway even with the shorter daylight in winter. The snow here is more or less guaranteed and one need not go up high to experience fun. Think of it as a lazy skier’s run but with plenty of snow to satisfy.
While there might be some minor annoyances like a lack of top notch ski accommodations or the absence of cheap-yet-goood-eats on the slopes, there is a relaxed ambience on the slopes in Trysil that becomes magical when the sun comes out and illuminate the winter wonderland! That is really a word to describe skiing in Norway with picture perfect scenes of pine trees covered up in pristine white snow!