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Istinden Northwest Bowl


A great sheltered bowl just out of reach from the average ski tourer right behind Tamokhuset.

Ski Touring Difficult

14 km
1.4 km
1.4 km
6-7 hrs
Low Point
205 m
High Point
1.4 km
Istinden Northwest Bowl Map

If you’ve looked at a topographical map of Norway long enough you have noticed that the name Istinden seems to show up a lot. Istinden can be directly translated as Ice Mountain but don’t always judge a book by its cover. The Northwest Bowl of Istinden is a sheltered gem within the Tamokhusset back yard and if you are willing to deal with the technical nature of the climb you are rewarded with some of the best powder turns within the area.


Leaving Tamokhusset the route that I used to get to this line was following the standard ascent route of the big open alpine bowl just south of the hut. Basically ascend up the cut out ski runs until you reach an obvious shoulder that has a summer road cut out to get into the main alpine bowl. Work with gentle slopes making sure to stay out of the main gully until there is an easy crossing around 700 meters and just before the upper alpine lake. By now you are right below the Eastern bowl of Istinden and need to traverse up a convex slope cautiously before heading into much easier slopes above. Climbing up to the high ridge it is time to go from having an easy day into “What was I thinking?”

Once on the North Ridge of Istinden follow the slopes as high as you can before switching over to crampons. Make your way up by occasionally putting yourself on the upper East face where you are super exposed before making your way back up to the ridge above. This route is one of the tours where you are happy to have an ice axe (or two) as it turns to technical climbing but only for a few seconds here and there. After making your way up a few meter tall rock step you will find yourself on a nice flat section where you can breathe and relax a bit before down climbing to the low col where you descend from.

Descending the Northwest Bowl of Istinden is almost as complex as climbing it with only a few spots to make your way through the two cliff bands below you where you won’t see them until you are up to them. Dropping in you want to follow the entrance until the bowl opens up and start making your way skiers right. While the slope seems to just drop off there is a route through on good snow years. This is the main crux of the descent but there is also a small cliff below you which though messing up wouldn’t be a big issue it would deliver a core shot or 3.

Making your way into the lower valley don’t get suckered into still riding fall line as you need to make a hard skiers right to make your way to the tree filled northern slopes of Istinden. If you were greedy for powder turns make sure to hike back up while traversing to make your way onto a cleared out road that you can ride all the way to the valley below. As is the case with most stories skiers can manage to ski all the way back to Tamokhuset following the Cross Country skiing trails but snowboarders will have to do a little bit of skinning.

This tour is recommended if you fill comfortable with exposure and trust your abilities with crampons and ice axes. Long story short this is not a beginners tour and can be dangerous on both the ascent and descent.

For more photos and information on the route check out this link https://www.whereiskylemiller.com/tamokdalen/istinden-northwest/



Serious gradient of 30-38 degrees where a real risk of slipping exists.

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between February and May


  • Bowl
  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area