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Bringing new life to an old mining community

Blog post   •   Oct 11, 2019 09:50 UTC

Photo: Bjørn Svendsen Text: Erik Jensen Liland

Around 90 km from Bodø, surrounded by majestic peaks, glaciers and one of Norway’s largest untouched mountain landscapes, lies the old mining community of Sulitjelma. The area, nicknamed “Lapland’s hell”, came to be the second largest industrial workplace in the country in the early 20th century. Everything here was owned by the mining company.

Photo: Rune Mattsson

What’s so special about Jakobsbakken is that the buildings look exactly the same today as they did in the early 1900s when they were first built. However, in 1991, after 104 years of mining operations, everything came to a halt in Sulitjelma. Copper prices were so low that it was no longer profitable to continue. Since then the community has gone from being an industrial metropolis of over 3,000 residents to a village of just 600 with few workplaces.

Photo: Lofoten vanlife

But now there is new optimism in Sulis. This is thanks to a strong focus on tourism and nature-based experiences, and the key figures responsible are Thor Åge Jensen and Mona Mosti. With huge drive and determination, they, together with an enthusiastic team, have revolutionised the historic Kobberløpet ski race, while at the same time focussing on building up “Norway’s coolest travel destination” at Jakobsbakken through the company Fjellfarer.

Photo: Jakobsbakken

“We have ambitions to create something totally unique here,” says founder Mona Mosti enthusiastically, “something not found anywhere else in Scandinavia”.

Photo: Istock

Norway’s national cross-country skiing team have held their season launch here for the past 2 years, and the team likes Jakobsbakken so much that they have planned annual meets here up until the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. 

Photo: Svein Spjelkavik

From Jakobsbakken, cross-country courses wind between the buildings and stretch over a total of 30 km across the mountain.

Photo: Lofoten vanlife

During the winter season Mona and Thor offer experiences such as dogsledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobile safaris, northern lights tours, yoga and peaks tours. Summer and autumn activities include mountain hiking, fishing trips and dogsledding on wheels.

For more information visit wideroe.no