Alf Alderson is awed by Arctic Norway's undiscovered treasure island

“Remember, we’re in a remote area, so ski carefully”. Wise if sombre words from our lugubrious Swedish mountain guide Dick Johansson, who is leading us up the 839-metre peak of Litgemoa on the Norwegian island of Senja.

Senja is located at 69 degrees north, off Norway’s west coast, and with a population of just 7,800 souls spread over almost 1,600 square kilometres, Dick is not kidding about the remoteness.

Alf Alderson

However, this does mean that when you go ski touring here, you’re pretty much guaranteed first tracks – both up and down the mountain. So it is that as our mixed group of Swedes (twin brothers Tomas and Daniel), Germans (Beate and Haymo) and Brits (Stephen and me) slog upwards for two hours with but one other sign of humanity – a small party of locals heading up a distant peak away to our right.

The weather is not exactly playing ball - thick cloud cover and snow squalls result in flat light, but the scenery is never less than dramatic, particularly when we summit. The locals like to refer to Senja as ‘Norway in miniature’, although the scenery hereabouts is far from miniature.

From the top of Litgemoa the land plummets away to dark fjords which snake out to the steel blue Atlantic; everywhere vast, craggy peaks soar up from sea level to between 800 and 1000 metres, so although the elevation is quite modest the sense of height - and the feeling of elation when you’re treading along the summit ridge of Litgemoa - is exhilarating.

Fredrik Schenholm courtesy Polygiene AB

I’m not just in Senja to slog up and down it’s majestic peaks, however. One of the perks of being the Ski Club’s gear reviewer is that occasionally you get invited to spectacular destinations such as this to test out equipment, and the Swedish company Polygiene are responsible for getting me here to give their stuff a good going over along with some fellow hacks.

Polygiene’s odour control technology is used by a vast array of outdoor companies in their ski clothing, and for the next few days I will be perspiring heavily into various Polygiene-treated base layers; will I stink like a Norwegian moose at the end of it? More on that later…

For now, however, it’s back to another session of skinning up Senja’s slopes on Day 2 of the trip. From our base in the pretty port of Hamm i Senja (pop. 10) we’ve driven through intermittent snowstorms to the valley of Kaperdalen, where Dick has decided that the lowering cloud and forecasts of heavy snow mean a summit push isn’t feasible, so we’ll instead climb up through birch forests which drape the valley’s lower slopes and, once at the treeline, ski back down.

Over the course of an afternoon we do four ‘laps’, with the pay-off for each 30-40-minute schlep upwards being two to three minutes of hooning downwards through perfect powder and between trees that, as Stephen says, “Were obviously planted by the Norwegian Tourist Board to be the ideal distance apart for tree skiing”. Or perhaps not…

Either way, much fun is had, not to mention lots of practise at the putting on and taking off of skins, which whilst not being the most exotic of ski activities is something that’s worth getting down pat.

Fredrik Schenholm courtesy Polygiene AB

Evenings are spent at the cosy coastal lodge in Hamm i Senja, where the obligatory sauna, along with a hot tub constructed within an old fishing boat, prove popular; less popular is the suggestion by some in the party to dive into the North Atlantic in between sauna and hot tub sessions.

I’m amongst the idiots who decide to take a dive, and I can now tell you with great authority that when you leap into 5C water in a pair of boardies you definitely need both sauna and hot tub to be in the immediate vicinity afterwards.

The rest of the trip is besieged by snowstorm and blizzard, so our touring has to be restricted to the lower slopes of peaks such as the modestly-sized Purka (495m) and Norbakken (height unknown) on Bergsbadn Fjord.

This doesn’t affect our ability to test out our Polygiene-treated togs, however, and I can report that yes, this is a product that really does work – how else to explain the fact that, for example, my Rab Flux base layer really doesn’t smell at all after being worn for four consecutive days and during more hundreds of metres of skinning than I care to remember?!

Whilst the weather remains challenging throughout our visit there is something quintessentially Nordic, nay Arctic, about exploring the island in stormy conditions, just a handful of companions alongside and very little else other than fjords, forests, mountains and snow for many kilometres in any direction.

There’s no doubt that Senja’s scenery and atmosphere exert a strong pull – without exception everyone on the trip plans to revisit this almost unknown Nordic treasure in the future.

Fredrik Schenholm courtesy Polygiene AB

Alf Alderson’s trip was organised by Pure Ski Touring www.pureskitouring.se

Accommodation was at Hamm i Senja Lodge www.hammisenja.no

Despite the remote location Senja is an ideal destination for novice ski tourers, with easy, low-angled approaches to the mountains, guaranteed snow, no altitude acclimatisation and relatively little avalanche danger since the coastal climate makes the layers of snowpack dense and reasonably stable.

For more on Polygiene go to www.polygiene.com or see the various Polygiene treated products in our gear reviews.