The white nights of summer bring out a rare wildness in the otherwise measured Swedes. On one such evening in mid-May, by the time the lift dropped us at the summit at Riksgränsen, the world’s most northerly ski resort, there was already a jubilant hubbub. Some of my fellow skiers and snowboarders posed for photos with the sun hovering over the Norwegian mountains behind them; others, apparently already half-cut, heaved crates of beer to rocky outcrops where they held sundowners in silhouette. We just sped straight down.
Tracks of shimmering gold
My legs felt leaden after a day spent mastering the six off-piste runs that snake down the front of the Riksgränsen peak with Joel, a mustachioed young guide from Gothenburg, who ended every sentence with the word ‘najs’, Swedish slang for ‘sweet’. But as soon as we got going, I accessed new reserves of energy and found myself racing once again down runs like ‘Bränten’ (the steep one), ‘Uffes Väg’, (Ulf’s wall), and Rimfors. The sun was so low over the pistes that it turned the ski tracks a shimmering gold. “Will the sun even set?” my skiing companion asked as we arch around in the chairlift between runs.