Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Lofoten 2015 - part 3...

Day 3 came with a great forecast and in true adventure style we set course for a peak I had spotted while driving on Saturday - I have only seen 1 reference to this peak online, so will leave it un-named here to allow others to discover it for themselves! The gully we were heading for is a striking line centre of the picture below:

Boot-packing up the gully:

Nick enjoying top quality spring snow in the gully:



Nick heading up for some bonus turns back to the car - spectacular doesn't even come close to describing the scenery:

A warm welcome back to the lodge from Nanook:

The forecast for day 4 was, as the Scots would say, 'minging' but with a promise of clearing late afternoon. A mix of sight-seeing and coffee-drinking occurred in the morning, and relentless weather-map peering convinced me that in the West it would clear up late afternoon. Unfortunately, by this time most of the team had lost 'momentum', so it was left to Jack and I to keep the spirit alive and we saddled up for the hour drive out to Stornappstind with our eyes on the South gully - the obvious gully dropping from the summit down the right face in the next picture (taken last year...!):

As we set out we had a clear view right up to the summit. Sadly as we climbed higher the cloudbase dropped gradually, and we arrived at the summit with not a whole lot of visibility. Time to sign the summit book, change over and slide carefully to the gully entrance:

Despite the visibility the gully was in excellent condition, soft spring snow on a firmer but smooth base - well worth the effort to come out!
Jack in action showing off his 'Lecluse-double-pole-plant' style:

Definitely worth the effort!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Lofoten 2015 - part 2...

Sod's law was definitely in full effect - having flown in on a calm sunny day and then endured a week of wild weather team 1 then flew out on another bluebird dead calm day...
As I was into week 4 of a lingering cold/sinusitis, and with my next crew arriving in the late afternoon further East on the Islands this was a rest day for me, and having waved off the team at Leknes airport I had a leisurely drive up to Svolvaer spotting new lines, followed by a great burger at the Bacalao bar.

Scenery to die for:

A shot for all the Bo Selecta fans out there... "It'll be proper Bø I tell thee...":

Having met team 2 and settled in to our new lodgings at Lofoten Ski Lodge, the weather naturally took a turn for the worst again, and we opted for a warm up day skiing the Kudalsheia ridge on Rundfjellet. Despite variable visibility we found nice creamy snow up off the summit in the North bowl, and some reasonable spring snow on the lower shoulder.

Back to base it was time for some waffle action:

Day 2 saw us en route for Geitgaljern with an improving forecast. Noone seemed to have told the weather though, and after 550m of skinning in increasingly strong winds, followed by 30 minutes sheltering behind a boulder we opted to turn tail, but had a nice ski down the lower gully of the West face (amazingly mellow feeling comared to 2 years ago with Will and Chipie when we had to straightline water ice in the top half!):

After a strategic withdrawal to the lodge for a cup of tea and to dry kit out we headed off again into the afternoon as the skies finally cleared for a quick trip up Glomtind:



Summit team!:

Looking down on Kalle and the Lofoten Ski Lodge:

Opening up after the steep summit slope:

Glomtind from the Lodge:

More to follow...

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...