I stood atop the ridge in the sinking afternoon sun, alone, the rest of my group traversing ahead. Overlooking the entire region of Jämtland Härjedalen, Sweden, the soft whisper of the wind and my own thoughts are the only detectable distractions. The scenery is incredible. Living in Colorado, this serenity is one I’m not often privileged to have unless precedented with a long trek into the woods. Here, a quick snowmobile tow away from the summit of Ramundberget Ski Area—part of the Funäsfjällen system of ski resorts—has lead to my current state of sublimity, a characteristic of the region that has caused many natives to stay, and attracted transplants, too.
I’m here in the Jämtland Härjedalen region of central Sweden to take in a bit of the local culture and find out what skiing in Scandinavia’s most populous country is all about. I’m four days into my journey, along with a small group of fellow outdoor writers, and we’re shacked up at the Eriksgården lodge, an ideal home base to explore the ski resorts of the area; Eriksgården takes a modern approach on rustic charm, and it’s just a two-and-a-half hour drive from Åre Östersund Airport. Although my time in the region has been brief, I’ve already come to find that the people here don’t take their skiing—or any of the countless outdoor recreation in the region—lightly.
A bustling ride down a scenic country road brings us to a dead end and Ramundberget Ski Area. And while the road provides no through access beyond the resort, Ramundberget serves as the trailhead to seemingly endless backcountry terrain that can be accessed via snowmobile, skins or even the chopper on certain days, thanks to the efforts of Sport Maffian, a local shop and off-piste guiding company.
“The name and company originates from a group of skiers that traveled and competed together under the name of ‘Funäs Maffian,’ [Funäs Mafia] since everyone lived in Funäsfjällen,” explains our guide Mattias Åberg. “The company was started in 2006 and is aimed at helping people experience what we love about the mountains.”
Sport Maffian offers a variety of guiding options, all at super affordable rates. Two summits via snowmobile start at 450 SEK per person (about $52 USD) with a host of other guiding options included, as well. That’s some serious value right there.
Sport Maffian also offers heli skiing on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the season for 2,650 SEK per person (about $306 USD). For this trip, however, we traveled by sled.
A four minute spin up the Fjällgårdsliften chair deposits our group at the summit of Ramundberget, where Åberg and Sport Maffian founder Fredrik Norberg await us with a couple of snowmobiles. After some brief introductions, our group grabs the ropes attached to the sleds, and just like that, they brap into gear, and we’re off into the wilderness of the Scandinavian Mountains.
A 2.5 kilometer (1.55 mile) ride along the sled track brings us to the Ösjöstugan lodge, which serves up some of the most delicious waffles—topped with Cloudberry jam and whipped cream—you’ll ever taste in your life. The lodge sits in an area called Ösjödalen, a valley that plays host to a criss crossing grid of cross country ski and snowmobile trails. At about 900 meters (2,953 feet) in elevation, the lodge sits right at treeline, making the alpine all the more accessible. Dark, leafless Downy Birch form the treeline, their solitary, haunting figures adding to the serenity of the region.