In addition to the well kept slopes of Gausta skisenter the surrounding mountains offer accessible off-piste skiing for a world class experience. With its full 1883 m above sea level Gaustatoppen can offer a mountain experience unmatched North of the alps. Just remember that all free-riding off-piste is done at your own risk. Make sure to take necessary safety precautions and bring the right safety equipment.
At Gausta skisenter you can experience great and varied alpine skiing – both inside and outside the pistes. To experience really great off-piste you can take the underground train up to Gaustatoppen – the highest peak of Telemark and perhaps, Norway’s most beautiful mountain. From the top you can ski the accessible southern slope that is marked with sticks.
Advanced skiers, with proper safety equipment and in the company of a guide, might try the groves (couloirs) from the ridge,
on the northeast side leading back to the ski center and the Gaustabanen valley station. The west side of the mountain does not lead back the lifts and transport back needs to be arranged.
In the company of a pre-booked guide Gaustatoppen offer various off-piste opportunities. The “front” Northeastern side of Gaustatoppen faces and leads back to the ski center and the start of Gaustabanen. Here you find 7-8 groves (couloirs) with a steepness of approximately 42 degrees. Some are narrow, some are deep and some so steep you need to “drop into” them.
The back side, also offer exciting, yet riskier off-piste. Facing west there’s opportunity for perfect sunset light, yet the avalanche danger is bigger and you need to arrange your own transport back to Gausta skisenter or the Gaustabanen valley station.
Today the vertical drop from Gaustabanen top station to its start is 650 meters. In the future, far longer total ski rides will be possible. There are plans to cut down trees to open up overgrown downhill slope from 1939. Taking you all the way from the peak of Gaustatoppen to the Vestfjorddalen valley. A total vertical drop of 1650 meters!
Up on the mountain weather can shift very fast. The snow on the top can literally move from one day to the next. This means conditions are ever-shifting. A grove that was skiable one day might be dangerous the next. Below the snow Gaustatoppen is covered by stone and rocks. Make sure to check the weather forecast. Dress for cold conditions and remember the chilling effect of strong winds. Bring a back-pack with proper avalanch-equipment, and remember only to ski the couloirs in the company of a guide.
Do you want to head out on your own adventures? Off-piste from Gaustatoppen is not the only alternative – there are lots of varying off-piste skiing and top tours in the entire Gausta area. Foam sheds, randonée or snowshoes and avalanche equipment are recommended.
Randonnée is a form of skiing where you leave the pistes and make your own tours, climbing up to peaks where the lifts won’t take you. This calls for special equipment with skins beneath the skis to give you grip on the way uphill. The skis and ski boots are lighter and the bindings are possible to unhook at the heels.
Long before the train Gaustabanen opened for public use enthusiasts would randonnée up Gaustoppen to ski back down. Yet there are also more accessible peaks to climb, such as Ørnenipa and Heddersfjell.
Do you want to try randonnée? Equipment can be rented at Gaustablikk and Hovdestaul.