Why we should all be cross country skiing this winter: it’s the perfect boost for your running fitness.
Cross country skiing (a.k.a. Nordic skiing, or ski de fond) is currently enjoying a serious renaissance. Like the boom in road cycling and ultra trail running that’s taken the UK and US by storm in recent years, it’s no longer just nerdy endurance geeks and burly army boys who are hooked on this now-fashionable-again winter sports pursuit.

Winter is here! This week I have been running in fresh snow in Chamonix. The temperatures have been sub zero keeping it light and fluffy underfoot. Over the past few weeks the Alps have been receiving regular snowfalls which enabled the partial opening of the Swiss resort of Verbier to open and this weekend the Grand Montets Ski Area in Chamonix will also be partially open. The expected date for the opening of the cross-country ski tracks is 4th December in most areas. And what with owning brand new XC skis i'm feeling a little impatient! In the meantime, i'm off out on my snowshoes as we don't need lifts to use those.

I have just returned from one of my favorite places on this planet. What better way to end the winter season than to enjoy touring through the remote and seemingly endless hills and mountains of Norway.

I was working on our trip to the Geilo and Finse regions of Norway where skiers from all backgrounds (be it nordic track skiing, alpine or telemark) have an opportunity to come together and learn new skills, advance in the old and then put it all together by going on a traditional hut to hut tour on part of the Hardangervidda Plateau.

This 10 day trip starts with 4 days intensive tuition at Geilo, a peaceful ski resort which holds it's snow late on in the season, where clients were able to develop all aspects of their skiing including the opportunity to begin telemark turning. Then we moved on to Finse, a remote region between Oslo and Bergen, where we based ourselves for the hut to hut 'touring' phase of the trip. Good weather made this even more of an unforgettable experience. It certainly wasn't the cold temperatures you'd normally associate with Norway, it was even possible to get a good sun tan!

I do love the Alps but when you step away from the norm once in a while you are reminded of how beautiful the world is. If you are already a skier and would like to experience a wild, remote, country on skis then perhaps Norway is for you - utter bliss in my book!

2011 trip dates and updated itineraries will soon be available on our ski pages. But for now click here to see some rescent pics:

I'm just back to the Chamonix Valley after another great ski trip to the Jura mountains where the snow continues to fall and the temperature is staying low - keeping the tracks in excellent condition. Our 'extreme team' (The Mackenzies and Janet) have just completed approximately 100km on skis in just four days. We began our ski in Mouthe, at the source of the Doubs river, and enjoyed skiing on pressed tracks all the way to Giron which sits just north of Geneva, making it easy to depart for their late flight home. Our journey took us through a variety of mountain villages, farms & pastures used for grazing in the summer months, hilly forested areas and flat valley bottoms. Travelling with only a small backpack enabled us to enjoy skiing both the ups(!) and the downs along the way. The accommodation we use is in a mixture of rustic farm houses and small family hotels where you can enjoy local dishes, cheese and wine. The trail is also close to many wonderful coffee and cake stops! To add to the ambience of our journey we even caught up with skiers training for one of France's longest cross country ski races, the Transjurassienne which was also held over the weekend.

Last weekend we ran our January cross country ski weekend in Italy. Aimed at beginner level or those wanting to refresh their nordic skiing skills we spend 3 full days skiing the tracks at different locations in the Aosta Valley. The cross country tracks are in perfect condition at the moment. We've had plenty of snow (and continues falling as I type) and as the temperatures stay cool the pistes are pressed into excellent condition.

Cross country skiing can be adapted to suit all levels. But the fitter you are obviously means you can have longer days out. Skiing with me were fell runners from the UK who had tried cross country skiing before but wanted to learn the right technique for future adventures. Once they had gained enough skills to cope with a variety of snow conditions and terrain we went on a 25km journey on day 2! Our last day together was spent on skates but still they had the energy to get some km's in their legs. In total we skied about 70km in 3 days. Nordic skiing is not only fun and an opportunity to enjoy the snow but is also perfect cross training for other sports. And whilst in Italy we benefit from excellent cuisine to top off a great weekend!

Our next ski weekend is 18th-22nd February - Happy New Year.