Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing

Imagine the inside of a snow globe. Every hilltop and fir tree has been doused in powdery snow, and the landscape is white as far as your eye can see. The air is crisp, the sun is shining, and the cold beauty of this winter day is perfect. You could not have asked for a more ideal day to go cross-country skiing.

What defines cross-country skiing

The main defining feature of cross-country skiing, as opposed to alpine skiing, is that skiers rely on their own movement to propel themselves across the terrain (helped by two ski poles). Ski resorts will have specially marked out cross-country ski trails; however, another appeal of the sport is that you can ski across un-groomed land also. Skiers push themselves forward to gain momentum on their skis by skiing from side to side and virtually moving all of their weight from one leg to another quite quickly. They gather enough energy to move quickly across relatively flat landscapes. In fact, before cross-country skiing was a sport, it was invented as a necessary means of transportation in remote snow-covered regions of the world.

One with nature

The point of cross country skiing is not the speed or the adrenaline rush that alpine skiing can give you on the ski slopes. The appeal is the chance to go off the beaten track, the chance to be immersed in the depths of winter and experience it at your own pace. You don’t have to queue for the busy ski lifts, but you can explore the snowy wilderness alone or with a partner and feel like you are the only people alive in the midst of nature.

You can go cross-country skiing pretty much all over the world ‒ from the Alps to the Dolomites, to the Nordic countries. Fantastic ready-made trails are ready for travellers in most resorts, with varying levels of difficulty and length to satisfy a variety of levels. If you want to dive into an authentic, off the beaten track wilderness, then you should head into Swedish Lapland, where you’ll be alone with the reindeer. The Alps or the Dolomites always present magnificent vistas, whilst the French Pyrenees offer some of the sunniest days possible in winter. Chile’s volcanoes provide an unusual option for a cross-country ski adventure, with thermal spas at the bottom and molten lava at the top.

When to go cross-country skiing is a question unto itself. The season is different from alpine and downhill skiing because it relies solely on nature, and snow cannons cannot step in to pick up the slack. You need to find ski resorts or communities that have lodges and cabins open along the cross-country ski trails. If you want to ski in the Alps and the Dolomites, the main season is from December to March. The Nordic countries are better in March, as the days will be getting longer, and if Chile’s volcanoes have spiked your curiosity, try to go between August and October when it is quite cold.