Friday, 24 April 2015

Lofoten 2015 - part 1...

I am finally back home after 2 1/2 weeks in the Lofoten Islands in Arctic Norway.

Once again Lofoten did not disappoint, in spite of some inclement weather and by far the worst snow conditions I have seen in 3 springs up there...

For the first week we were based in Ballstad, out in the 'Wild West'. I love it out there as it is much quieter than the Eastern islands, the views are even more spectacular when you get them, and there is huge scope for 'exploratory' ski mountaineering - half of the lines we skied don;t appear in any guidebooks or online topos, but were spotted using the age old 'trick' of driving or skiing about with eyes open and spotting lines, or looking on a map for likely zones. In an age where so much information is available online it is so refreshing to be able to explore like this!

For this reason, I have left out any names of mountains, in order to allow other people following after to have the same experience...

Home for the week. Great to wake up to the sounds of waves lapping around the stilts holding our cottage up; I was also lucky enough to watch an otter swimming about one morning while having a cup of tea!:

Day 1 - wild & windy!:

Having almost literally been blown off our first objective, in the afternoon we headed for a gully line I had spotted that should (and was) be sheltered from the wind. This gave us nice skiing, with a sustained section of 40º at the top of the gully in good smooth spring snow:

Sadly SAS managed to send my skis to Frankfurt instead of Oslo, fortunately Seth at Lofoten Ski Lodge stepped in and lent me a pair of skis until mine arrived - the hidden bonus of this was the opportunity to try out Marker's new Kingpin binding for a couple of days - more on this to follow in a later blog:

On day 2 we headed off to a peak I had spied last year and had a great adventure, with firm snow on an exposed ridge from the summit, followed by a bonus couloir with great spring snow lower down:

On day 3 we headed East as I had finally been happily reunited with my Ranger Carbonlites and had to drop Seth's skis back to him. We had a nice ski on the classic Pilan with about 20 ptarmigan spotted on our way up and down, but turned back from a bonus couloir on Glomtind due to unstable snow in the steep couloir entrance:

Day 4, with severe gales forecast, we opted for a non-ski day and drove down to the end of the road...

Å is the last letter of the Norwegian alphabet, and a fitting name for the village at the very end of the road!:

Bicycle parking Lofoten-style:

Spotting lines... we skied this couloir the next day!

Stunning scenery from our cabin's terrace:

On day 5 we skied a couple lines I had spotted the day before - a nice couloir line straight off a summit, and then a sustained 35/40º 600m vertical slope, sadly in a massive snowstorm that came in just as we were changing over to ski down:

A 'Ranger photobomb':

Snowflakes the size of 20 Kroner coins!

On the last day for team 1 we hit the jackpot. Following the previous day's snowfall the skies finally cleared late morning and we had a great run off the brilliantly-named Kangerutind - what a great way to wrap up the week!

Thanks again to Ian, Richard, Cedric, Costin and Mark for enduring the variable weather and conditions - we certainly made the most of our 6 days. Thanks also to our host in Ballstad Yngvar and his amazing tales. Yngvar is a true character, with a never-ending supply of tales and some classic moments - a small selection follow (thanks to Cedric for compiling!):

Team member: "I'm thinking of bringing my wife here next year."

Yngvar: "Yes, well, wives are... in general, I'm skeptical about wives."


Yngvar: "I don't like busy season. No time to talk to guests. I like off-season."

Team member: "When is off-season in Lofoten?"

Yngvar: "Ten months a year."


Yngvar launches into a complex story about a priest and a bishop and goes on for a while.

Costin: "Wait a moment, who died, the priest or the bishop?"

Yngvar: "The priest died."

Costin: "Aha."

Yngvar: "They both died."

And thanks as always to Whitedot Skis for their continued support! The Ranger Carbonlite remains my 'go-to' touring ski, especially on trips with very variable snow conditions. I am looking forward to trying out the slimmed-down R98 due out next year...

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