The deepest snow in Europe sounds impressive, huh? Well, it is! We arrived in Røldal at the beginning of January, and honestly, the first impression was pretty disappointing. There was a little bit of snow here and there. The situation was different at the mountain top, where the ski center is situated. A lot of snow and perfect conditions for skiing. The Norwegians around us made sure that we knew that this was not normal for the area, especially at this time of the year and we should be prepared because the snow will come. And it came! A few days later, everything, and I mean everything, was covered in meters of snow.
SNOW, SNOW, and SNOW
Moreover, it didn't just snow for a few hours or days. It didn't stop for weeks. Not only that, it didn't stop, but it kept snowing for three months, with few days of sun or days with no snow but minus temperatures and clouds covering the sky. I am writing this post in the middle of April, and guess what? Yup, the snow is still outside, yup, that same snow, even though it had turned into ice rather than snow.
Norwegians take a lot of care of their roads in the winter and the streets are perfectly clean from the snow. The situation is different on the side of the road, a few centimeters or even meters different.
As I come from a country with some freezing and snowy winters, I thought I would be prepared for it. Well, little that I know, I wasn't. We were not going out of the apartment without ski clothes for the first few months. As they are warmer than jeans, ski clothes are perfect for the winter walks, even if it is only to the store. However, it wasn't only the low temperatures that made us wear waterproof clothes, but the meters, and I mean meters, of snow everywhere around us. Even the stairs, which led to our apartment, had at least half a meter of snow on them. And you would say, “mm just remove the snow?” Well, we did, and two days later, it was the same - a few centimeters, almost a meter of fresh powder snow.
Powder & off-piste skiing
Powder, ah powder. I haven't experienced proper skiing in powder before coming here. Have you? If you have, then you know what I am talking about. This feeling of flying through the snow, everything feels lighter, faster, and so much softer as the skis are passing through the powder. If you have never experienced off-piste and proper powder skiing, I advise you to put it on your MUST DO list.
As I already mentioned, it snows a lot here in Røldal, so much that daily my weather forecast app would send notifications warning for avalanches and forecasts for between 12-20 cm of new snow.
Daily, daily, daily. It is fascinating to live in the area with the deepest snow in Europe until the point that it is April, and guess what? Yup, it is snowing again! And it will continue for the month. Here spring arrives a little later than in other parts of Europe. But I guess it all makes sense, after all, the name “Norway” comes from the Old English word Norþweg mentioned in 880, meaning "northern way" or "way leading to the north".
Røldal & The Healing Stave Church
Røldal is a peaceful village situated in Vestland or the West part of Norway. It has only 300 inhabitants, making it a quiet area surrounded by high mountains and (during the winters) a frozen lake. As we are still speaking about the deepest snow in Europe, you can imagine the winters are popular ski seasons. But not only winters are enjoyable here in Røldal. Many hiking tracks can be found in the area, it is a popular destination amongst hunters, and you can even fish in the lake without any need for permission or fee.
The stave church in the town brings many tourists around the year. Built around 1200, the church is known for its crucifix, which according to the legend has healing powers. Røldal and its church were one of the most significant locations of pilgrimage in Norway during the middle ages. Pilgrims continued to visit the church until 1835, longer than any other place in Norway.