Europe, Travel Guide

Guide to Voss, Norway

Tuesday 18 February, 2014
All the fjords, mountains and wild scenery you could hope for. Photo: Frode Fester

All the fjords, mountains and wild scenery you could hope for. Photo: Frode Fester

WHY GO?
Acro, cross-country, magic air – you can do it all here in the long northern days.

WHERE IS IT?

WHAT’S IT LIKE?
An hour to the east of Bergen the small town of Voss sits at 56m above sea level, with 1,300m mountains on one side and the deep fjords of western Norway on the other. Flying here is a unique experience, involving remote mountains, fjord crossings and scenery the like of which you’ll have never seen.

Flying in Voss is very well established, with good launches for all wind directions. All the take-offs have been developed to make them safe for every levels of pilots.

The main launch is Hanguen, at 650m above sea level. A cable car takes you up, and there’s a café to wait in while you watch the wind. This launch is also home to many of Norway’s acro pilots – as soon as you take off you’re 500m above the lake. There’s a boat available to the local club that pilots can arrange to use, so if you splash down someone can come and rescue you.

From here it’s easy to get height to go to Lønahorgi, a 1,410m peak nearby. And from there the area opens up. On a normal day base will be between 1,400m and 2,000m, which makes it a good site for everything: acro, XC, testing wings or just boating about.

Once the thermals die off at Hanguren, pilots head for Liaset, which makes for good evening soaring. “Magic air” starts at about 6pm in high summer, and lasts until the sun goes down. This far north, that can be very late indeed.

In winter the site turns into speedriding heaven, taking advantage of the ski lifts and cable cars. When the snow melts, the XC gear is unpacked in time for Easter, when the season starts all over again.

FLYING CONDITIONS
Low pressure often sits out to the west, with good conditions coming before and after the low. Wintertime sees snow, but thermals start in April and the season lasts until September.

WHEN TO GO
One of the best weeks to go is at the end of June, the time of the annual Ekstremsportveko (Extreme Sports Week). The highlight is the open distance comp, when you get extra points for top landing the peaks and collecting flags that have been placed there specially.

Acro comps and spot landing tasks on rafts in the water add to the fun. There’s something for all levels of pilot, the organisers promise. If you don’t fancy competing, free flying is open and you can do as you like. Or you might fancy a specially laid on helicopter trip to the summit of Lønahorgi for the flight home. In the evenings, it goes without saying, pilots retire to the festival tent for partying and fun.

ALTITUDE
Launch: 650m
Landing: Sea level
Cloudbase: 1,400m to 2,000m
Airspace limit: 2,800m

HANG GLIDER ACCESS
Yes. Load it on to the cable car for Hanguren, or drive to the top of other launches nearby. A tow boat on the water has an 1,800m line.

MUST BE FLOWN
Voss to Ulvik is the classic route (about 40km) and offers all the wild mountain and fjord scenery you could hope for. Remember money for the bus back.

DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES
Voss is at the end of a valley that goes down to the sea, and in the afternoon the sea breeze kicks in. It’s easy to see this coming in the water, but you want to land before this wind hits the land. It can be strong. There’s a small airfield nearby used by skydivers – it’s a no-go zone.

ACCOMMODATION
Voss camping is 200m from landing
Voss Hostel
And there are lots of hotels.

GUIDES AND COURSES
The club in Voss is very active, offering beginner training, acro and speedriding courses, and SIV. Contact them at www.vosshpk.no

TAKE THE FAMILY
Kayaking in the fjords and rafting in the rivers.
Other than that there’s nature to play in (put the internet down and go outside!).

WEATHER INFO
Seven day forecast
Wind speed now

GETTING THERE
The closest airport is Bergen. From there take the airport bus to the railway station (20mins) and a local train to Voss (60mins). From Oslo the train to Voss takes six hours.

USEFUL WEBSITES
The club
Extreme Sports Week


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