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Text by Miikka Hast
Photos by Jani Kärppä
1. Freeride the fjords
There are no pistes or lifts in the wild mountains of Tamok and Lyngen in Norway’s Tromsø. Each turn is earned with sweat. Special snowboards and skis can be converted into hiking equipment by attaching climbing skins. If the climb doesn’t take your breath away, the fjord scenery certainly will. Nothing beats the feeling of standing on a peak you just ascended... except the ride down in deep powder snow.
2. Snow Country
A train ride from Tokyo brings you to Minamiuonuma, one of the snowiest places on earth. With up to a metre of snow falling overnight, skiing can start to feel more like swimming. There are several resorts to choose from, and you can ride for days without meeting any westerners. After a day of powder fun, relax in an onsen, a Japanese hot spring, which are abundant in the area.
3. Heliskiing Kiwi-style
The Kiwis take pride in showing thrill-seekers a good time. Nestling among amazing fairy-tale scenery, Wanaka is second home to many of the world’s top freeriders during the European summer. Here heliskiing – normally an exclusive sport – is accessible to all. “You can just drop in on a heli-operator and book a day of flying and riding in a great variety of terrain,” says Finnish pro snowboarder Antti Autti.
Best Season: August to September
Finnair offers excellent connections to Queenstown via its oneworld codeshare flights to Sydney and Auckland.
4. Purr with a snowcat
“BC: best place on earth” boasts a bumper sticker in British Columbia, Canada. When it comes to freeriding, the claim is true. The city of Nelson is surrounded by backcountry terrain best accessed by snowcat, a snow groomer transformed into an agile mountain vehicle. Exclusive trips are provided only by professional mountain guides. Your only job is to enjoy the amazing riding and guess what’s for lunch.
Best season: January to March
Finnair offers connections to Kelowna, B.C. via its oneworld codeshare flights
5. Going to extremes
In the shadow of Mont Blanc Massif lies Chamonix, mecca of the extreme freeride elite. The famous cable car to the peak of Aiguille du Midi holds the title of highest vertical lift ascent in the world. An adrenaline rush is guaranteed just by looking down at many of the world’s most famous off-piste runs. Serious mountaineering skills and equipment are required before stepping onto the spectacular glacier.
This article was first published in the January 2015 issue of Finnair's monthly in-flight magazine Blue Wings.