The World’s Weirdest Ski Lift

In a region of Norway rich with military history, skiers can ride a NATO train through a tunnel to the top of the mighty Gaustatoppen. BY JIMMY PETTERSON

A few odd ski areas exist in a time warp—living tributes to a bygone era of skiing, before the advent of snowguns to make the snow and fleets of snowcats to flatten it to perfection. These mountains are dedicated to freeriders, with few or no groomed pistes. La Grave in France was one of the first. Austria has the Krippenstein, and in the French Pyrenees, the cable car hauls freeriders up the Pic du Midi.

Norway has its own exclusive off-piste mountain—Gaustatoppen, near the village of Rjukan—with a lift that must rank among the strangest of all time. And the region has a fascinating backstory... 

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