Taking the helicopter to the top is popular in the Alps. At Gausta there’s no need. Since 1959 an underground train in the mountain has run all the way up to the top.
The idea of building an underground train to Gaustatoppen started as a civilian tourism project in the early 1950’s. But when NATO got news about the plans it became a top secret military project. The railway was completed in 1959 and used to ship staff and supplies to the NATO radio station based on the summit.
In 2010 Gaustabanen was no longer considered confidential and was opened to the public. The train quickly became very popular. In fact, it’s actually two trains. One that runs horizontally 850 m straight into the mountain. Then you change train and travel 1050 m up in a 39-degree slope.
Today, Gaustabanen is open both summer and winter, but the opening date depends on the weather conditions. It takes 15 minutes to take you 1800 m above sea level. Here you step out above an off-piste run marked out with poles on the south side. This is open to the public. From the top station you can continue the climb 30 m up to where you find Gaustatoppen Turisthytte with serving and overnight accommodation. If you climb upwards along the ridge, you will finally reach 1883 m above sea level. The grooves on the sides of the ridge are ski-able with a guide and yet require full avalanche equipment. On nice days with good snow really advanced off piste skiing can be experienced.
“Forget about heli-skiing. Just take the train.”