The secret to a great summit hike

Be prepared for changeable weather, high humidity and poor visibility. Here’s how to make every summit hike a breeze!



It's one of those ski days you’ll be remembering fondly for many years to come. One of your best memories, one that you’ll be laughing and talking about with your ski buddies for a long time. Just like the fisherman boasting about his latest catch, every time you tell the story, the snow gets deeper and the smilesget broader.

On this occasion, we happen to be in Sogndal. It’s early February and the snow has been falling for several days. Up to 30 centimeters a day has made mountain tops and freeride forests a paradise. We've checked the weather report, we've got our traps and avalanche detectors, splitboards and thick skis, and clothing to protect ourselves in all types of weather.



Things can still go wrong

Even so, such days can be ruined or affected by annoying details. Traps with poor glue, snow that's too deep, maybe you’ve dressed incorrectly and sweated too much, maybe you've got so much lactic acid in your legs that you're struggling to enjoy the turns. But even if the perfect ski day takes a nose dive, there will always be plenty of others to enjoy!

Much can go wrong on a summit hike That’s why the right planning and equipment is key, and that’s when the right clothes are essential. As an expert in Norwegian winter clothing for almost 30 years, Ulvang is aware of all the common pitfalls and has developed wool clothing for changing Norwegian conditions.

We drive the car up from the center of Sogndal, where there is sleet and a temperature in the plus. Towards Sogndalsdalen, we take a few meters of altitude and find nice but soft snow – and we’ve got a thousand more meters to go!


Dress properly

In the parking lot, we get our ski boots and equipment in order, and check that we have everything we need in our rucksacks. When packing our bags, it’s a good idea to think about tips from the wool experts: Dress according to the three-layer principle. Start by not dressing too warmly and remember to bring an extra wool top to change into along the way.

There are no tracks, but we’ve been on this mountainside before, so we’re trekking up the hills in deep snow after testing that the avalanche detectors are in order. The snow is heavy and we’re walking quite steeply, so it won't take long for our heart rates to go up. After just ten minutes, we take a technical break – we remove the middle layer and open the ventilation in the shell jacket, because now it shouldn't be difficult to stay warm.


Ingenious material

“Wool is never just wool!” There are many different breeds of sheep that produce different wool fibers. Weather conditions, climate and pastures have a major impact on wool. Different wool thickness (coarseness) and fiber length are the most important factors in terms of quality. The finest longest fibers that are also the most frizzy will be the softest on the skin, while the thicker wool fibers will be more robust and durable. The different wool fibers have different properties and wool is chosen based on the intended purpose, says Hege Midtun Larsen, designer at Ulvang.

She is responsible for picking out materials, talking to athletes and users, and curating collections for Ulvang. When Hege chooses materials and yarns, she cares about function and quality.


All Ulvang base layers use Merino wool. The Merino wool has long, fine fibers that have a good stretch and make the garments soft and non-scratchy. We have a number of different base-layer ranges, from simple light base layers to the more technical ones. These feature body patches that provide extra insulation with two layers and/or wool mesh for the parts of the body that lose the most heat, and they also have strategically placed panels with breathable mesh, all to ensure optimal user experience. 

Wool is a fantastic fiber that is naturally renewable, it is nature’s own technical material. Wool acts as a temperature regulator and will protect your body in both hot and cold weather. Even if you get wet, you won't feel cold or damp. Equally, the wool regulates the temperature to a great extent, so that you’ll feel comfortable during the winter and summer. Wool doesn't stain or retain odor easily, which means you don't need to bring as many garments with you in your backpack, thus leaving more room for other items. Air the wool instead of washing it. 

It's a fantastic fiber, says the designer enthusiastically.


Heart rate

We've worked hard to get up the mountainside in Sogndal, and after a number of kick turns and many cubic metres of trodden snow, we take the opportunity for a longer run just below the line of trees. Because it’s snowed as much as it has recently, we’re doing our best to dig a snow profile.

We are looking for the stability of the snow to allow us to go further up above the tree line. A few hundred meters of altitude remain above the trees. Being confident in the terrain and in each other is an important tip for getting the best experience. If you are confident in yourself and on the snow, you will avoid your trip in the mountains deteriorating through uncertainty and danger of avalanche.

We are lucky that the terrain above the trees is loose, and the routes we have made together mean that we avoid avalanche. The snow is also stable and light, and it is colder up here – which means that we can look forward to an excellent descent!



The highlight

There are still a couple of hundred meters of light wind on our faces above the trees, and the weather has now changed from the mild fjord climate down in the valley. This is normal for longer summit hikes, so remember to plan for it! The air humidity has caused our gloves to go slightly soft, so it was a good idea to bring an extra pair.

One of us also has an extra buff and hat in the rucksack, ideal for when it gets windier and your sweaty neck starts to freeze. We’re looking forward to reaching the top now and when we do it’s just a matter of getting things done fast!



The descent can quickly get cold, especially if you are wet. That’s why we’re changing our wool tops for something dry. Wool has good absorbency and can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture. Plus, when it’s wet it stays warm, but when we're going downhill and are likely to stop and wait for each other, it’s a good idea to stay dry. Alternatively, you can keep the middle layer, such as the down jacket, on to insulate.

Now it’s time to put on the cold helmet that has been dangling on the outside of our bag on the ascent– but some gorgeous powdery bends await!


No matter what level you are at, physical and psychological comfort on the trip is the key to a great ski experience. It helps if you stay warm, safe and refreshed when you’re finally ready to go.

For us, it’s important to remember that it’s in practice that the clothes really shine. That’s also why we’ve developed our clothes to be reliable in the terrain and designed them to highlight wool’s best qualities.