Sunday, 18 March 2012
This was my first trip to Sweden although i've wanted to go for a long time. The idea of how expensive it is stopped us for ages but given the pound/euro rates in the last couple of years, it's really not much different than a trip to the French alps. Unless you want to get drunk of course. Supermarket beer is about a pound a can but it's a max of 3.5%. Vemdalen is so small you have to put an order in with a local butcher 48hours in advance to get anything stronger sent over from the nearest proper town! Moral of the story is stock up in duty free!!
Vemdalen itself is little more than a couple of lifts, cafes and a ski shop and feels more like a tiny US ski hill than anything in Europe. Just like many US hills, it's quiet during the week and it's got a limited number of runs. The pistes are kept in excellent condition, real corduroy groomers which stay firm but not icy no matter how long ago it snowed. I think this is because the top layer never melts and refreezes because of the prevailing low temperatures. Geilo last year and here definately had the best on-piste conditions ive seen since we last went to Tahoe!
The mountains themselves are low, looking more like rolling tundra than craggy mountains so nowhere is that steep and there aren't any real cliffs to fall off by accident. Avalanche risk stays pretty low too and the forests between the runs are made up of pretty widely spaced trees. If it snows, all this adds up to really fun, easily accessible, safe off-piste that doesn't get tracked out very quickly. The resort was nearly a metre down on it's usual mid january base and i still had face shots in the trees and some really good pow turns, even if i did get told off for cutting through a lift line by the ski patrol!
There's some good natural hits and i'm told it's even better with more snow. Park wise, theres a small one but it's definately not the focus for the lift company and geilo in norway last year was much better set up for that. On the down side it is small and as a resort definately suited to learning to ski or snowboard rather than a place to put the miles in. I did every run on the hill with the Neilson rep in two hours! Admittedly we weren't hanging about but still!
It is a good place for families, youngsters will progress well and it's quiet. Look elsewhere if you want to party hard though!