Gateway to Mountain Paradise — Phillipshaugen Lodge, Norway

Post by blogger | May 27, 2015      
Views from Phillipshaugen Lodge of Øksendal valley.

Views from Phillipshaugen Lodge of Øksendal valley.

Somehow I’ve fallen into a life that slips me from one paradise to another like a kid going down the ultimate water slide. The latest turn took me to perhaps the most perfect place of all, especially for a mountain girl who loves the sea.

Majestic snowy mountains soar from a pristine valley, a sapphire fjord glistens down the road and on a hill, with far reaching views, sits a luxurious basecamp, Phillipshaugen Lodge.

When Lou was invited to Jotunheimen, he wanted me to join him afterwards. I wasn’t enthusiastic about leaving Colorado in the spring, my favorite time of year. But how could I resist a trip to a land to which I’d never been?

Phillipshaugen is my first ski touring destination. After dragging my heavy ski bag upstairs, I open the window in our room and look out at the scene of a mountaineer’s dreams — an inviting range of gleaming white peaks. They are near enough for easy access and that is our plan for tomorrow.

But now, jet lagged beyond the point of sleep, I wander outside to a comfortable lawn chair. The birds are tweeting, the mountain air is clear and soft, and the sun gently massages my tired self. I doze for perhaps an hour in a state of deep relaxation that doesn’t come often in this busy world.

Refreshed and hungry, it is time for dinner. Fresh caught cod wrapped in bacon is scrumptious. Local potatoes taste so good I quiz the cook about the ingredients. She says it is nothing special, maybe a dash of nutmeg.

During dinner we look out at the beautiful mountain range we'll explore tomorrow.

The sun hung low on the horizon casting alpenglow across the peaks that we hope to explore tomorrow.

Drink a bit of wine and settle in to watch the fire. Contentment runs high.

Drink a bit of wine and settle in to watch the fire. Contentment runs high.

Lou and I have a thing about 80’s pop music. Like a nagging headache, it haunts us constantly, even at the quaintest European gasthauses. We immediately notice the lack of it, or any piped in elevator music, at Phillipshaugen. When I compliment the owner about the tranquility of the place, he says the only music they play is birdsong. Moreover, they made a conscious decision to not provide televisions in the rooms (while still having a robust wi-fi signal). Lovely.

Phillipshaugen was built in 1899 by Ethelbert Lort-Phillips and his wife Louisa. I would have liked to have had dinner with them in their cozy lodge.

Ethelbert and Louisa shared a life of adventure, traveling to Africa in the 1800’s to discover bird and plant species. A passion for fishing brought them to inner Norway. They found ample salmon in the crystal clear streams and fjords, but few tourist accommodations in the poor farm villages. So Louisa designed lodges in the Scottish Highland style of her homeland and industrious Ethelbert built them. Four remain and are in use today.

I’ve inducted Louisa into the WildSnow Girl Hall of Fame. I don’t know if she skied, but she held her own in the outdoors. During a time when few women traveled to untamed places or participated in the sporting life, she explored the wild with gusto and style.

Salmon fishing was a passion for many Brits in the late 1800’s and they eagerly traveled to the comfortable lodges Ethelbert and Louisa built. It was popular to keep fishing journals recording the expertise of the fishermen, weight of fish and how hard it fought before it was landed. Lady Louisa was one of the first women to appear in the stats. One summer day in 1891, she caught 19 salmon. The largest was 31 pounds for a total of 269 pounds of fish. Not bad for a Victorian socialite.

Ethelbert Lort-Phillips built Phillipshaugen and four other lodges in Norway to share this beautiful country with his fellow Englishmen.

Hunter, ornithologist, and connoisseur of beautiful places, Ethelbert Lort-Phillips would be pleased with the new owners of Philliphaugen as they roll out the red carpet to guests in his beloved lodge.

How to get there:

From Oslo, take the train to Oppdal, or take a plane to Molde or Kristiansund. From there, bus service, taxis or shuttle are available. Contact Phillipshaugen Lodge and they will gladly help arrange transport.


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9 Responses to “Gateway to Mountain Paradise — Phillipshaugen Lodge, Norway”

  1. Jim Knight May 27th, 2015 6:46 pm

    Nice post Lisa! I”m expecting a good recipe from this sojourn.

  2. Lisa Dawson May 29th, 2015 2:37 am

    Hi Jim,
    Yes, a recipe is coming soon. We ate well!

  3. john May 29th, 2015 4:59 am

    Nice write up Lisa! Your one photo captured what I loved about Norway, simple but classy and always a fire going! If you enjoy summit to sea Lygen alps is incredible. I also did some touring on Senja which had some very dramatic landscapes. enjoy

  4. Lisa Dawson May 29th, 2015 7:45 am

    The Lyngen Alps are on the list for a future trip which hopefully will happen next spring.

    Simple and classy aptly describes the beautiful interior of Phillipshaugen. Other than modern bathrooms and kitchen, the interior is original and beautifully restored to retain its old world charm.

    We were particularly intrigued by the fireplace. The style was popular 100 years ago in the timber buildings that were not air-tight. The cylindrical shape draws the draft up the chimney and makes lighting the fire quite easy. Also, with just a few small logs, it radiated more heat than other fireplaces we’ve experienced. This appeared to be because of the amount and angles of the masonry.

    The traditional design was roughly translated as a “Lightening” fireplace but I don’t think that’s the accurate term because I couldn’t find any information about it.

  5. Jernej May 29th, 2015 12:51 pm

    Based on your experience with huts (and their beer & pastries) around the world I’m surprised you guys haven’t opened up one of your own in Colorado.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 May 29th, 2015 10:44 pm

    Jernej, we’ve definitely fantasized about it. North America does have some excellent hut operations, though they tend to be expensive and don’t have the “drop in and have fun” feel of what we see all the time in, for example, Austria.

    Closer to our home, in my opinion most of the Colorado huts could be way better, but it’s really tough in Colorado to have every ingredient. For example, the access equation is tricky. You want most people to use human power to get there, but you need mechanized access for hauling baggage and food. Pricing is an issue as well, somehow here in Austria the more remote huts are incredibly inexpensive both in terms of beds and food, getting that to happen in the U.S. business environment would be difficult, though not impossible. The other trick is that the “ultimate” Colorado hut needs to have food service, but not be set up as an expensive luxury operation. And then there is the location, which needs to be at the best skiing, good hiking, but not so high an altitude that health is an issue for folks who are not acclimated. Unless it was in a very special place that was super attractive, you’d also need to build the operation within a reasonable drive of major population. Could happen on the Western Slope if it was just amazing, but probably more possible over near Denver and Boulder.


  7. Rob S. May 30th, 2015 12:38 pm

    Let us know when you open that hut in CO, Lou. Wildsnow fans will beat a path to your door!

  8. Wookie1974 June 18th, 2015 6:01 am

    Lisa –

    First – let me say that this is one of the best posts I’ve read here – and I’m already a fan. I’m already planning a trip to this place someday!

    Second – wtih regards to the hut costs in Europe – most of the huts are notorious money-losers. They can only survive (as a whole, there are notable exceptions) due to them being heavily subsidised by both the clubs that run them and in some places, by the government as well. (either directly, or more commonly, indirectly through tax breaks to the club that runs them.)
    The German alpine club – the DAV – sends an annual report out to all members every year, and in it, you can find detailed information on the finances of each hut the club runs. Some of the stats are mind-boggling for me – and sometimes not in a good way. There are self-service huts in the system, mostly smaller and remote, for eample, that in some years only get rented for a week or less – but are still kept up and maintained.
    This is all not a problem per se for the DAV – as it is funded by the dues of its members – and the DAV is the largest “club” in Germany. But it IS an issue for the people who run the huts – as they have to earn money from the guests through sales of food and overnights. Often, a hut will change renters nearly yearly, if it is a more remote hut with fewer visitors. The best ones from this perspective, of course, are the ones with a cable car in close proximity.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 June 18th, 2015 6:41 am

    Wookie, thanks for being here and glad you’re enjoying the posts! That’s interesting about the DAV and the folks running the huts. Here in Colorado the model is usually a non-profit owning the hut, but with no on-site manager and no food service. From what I understand, the hut companies do fine economically with that arrangement, with financial support for new huts coming from donors. We just wish we could have a few huts that were up a little higher, with food service. But perhaps we’ll just have to keep going to the Alps for that. Lou

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