Saturday, 16 April 2016

Lofoten 2016 - East side - part 2

On Wednesday the planets finally aligned for a trip into Trollfjord - I have been waiting years to go in here but it was worth the wait!

It is always hard to follow up a high quality day like that, particularly when the forecast is for strong winds, low cloud and precipitation, but on Thursday we manage to find a sheltered and bright corner of the Island with a sheltered couloir line.

The forecast was once again poor for our last day on Lofoten. With winds coming in from the Southwe decided to stay very local on a peninsular that tends to stay clearer of the cloud than the main island and made a couple of steep laps before the snowpack started to get too moist and we retired for coffee, waffles and beer!

Thanks again to Pete, John and Steve for a great week, and thanks also to Seth, Maren and all the crew at Lofoten Ski Lodge and Captain Nick and Stella on the boat! See you there next year!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Lofoten 2016 - East side - part 1

As always seems to be the way in Lofoten, changeover day was an absolute belter - blue skies, no wind, T-shirt weather... Typical...

Having waved goodbye to the rest of team 1 Pete and I drove over to Svolvaer for a great lunch and then picked up John and Steve from the airport before settling in to our home for the week at Lofoten Ski Lodge.

On Sunday we stayed relatively local and set off in the direction of Rundtind, but seeing several parties already on the hill a plan B was called for to get a bit of peace and quiet and this emerged in the shape of a neighbouring face I have looked at over the last few years.

After climbing to a first col and enjoying some soft turns back to mid-height we then set off for a second lap and managed to find a narrow and airy route to the very summit.

After downclimbing the summit ridge (non-skiable), we found some good soft snow on the higher slopes, then set off in search of a linking set of couloir lines down to the valley floor.

A brilliant day out skiing a line I have had in my 'little black book' for some time, but had never had stable enough conditions in past years. Not a bad start to week 2!

On day 2 we headed East to a new area I have wanted to explore for some time. With a variable forecast we made a quick turn-around on the summit as a wall of snow was approaching, and managed to get down while the visibility was still with us - nice skiing with a few cms of powder on a smooth firm base.

On Tuesday we set off Eastwards (again) to the far side of the Raftsundet, once more seeking shelter from squally weather. We tagged our summit just as a squall hit and spent 30 minutes hunkered down waiting for a weather window. Fortunately a clearing appeared and we were able to ski a fun couloir line right off the summit down a North-facing bowl, with a short skin back in to the teeth of the gale to drop back over to the car. A fun day out in tricky weather conditions.

More to follow...

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Lofoten 2016 - the Wild West

Once again I find myself back in the magical Lofoten Islands for 2 weeks of ski touring adventures. This is the 4th April running I have made my way up here, and despite the worst conditions I have seen during all those trips I still see no reason not to be coming back this way next spring!

Reports from friends up here had been excellent up until one week before our trip, with lots of rain on Easter Sunday which made a massive dent in the snowpack, particularly at low levels. Flying up on Saturday I was unsure what to expect, but a chance meeting in Bodø with my friend Leanne who was on her way home went some way to reassuring me that there would be some good skiing to do.

Having arrived under blue skies, along with all our bags, it would have been wrong not to get straight out and bag an evening line - you never know with Lofoten when the weather windows will open, so best to take every one that is available.

We decided to revisit a peak from last year close to Leknes which has a great semi-steep gully very easily accessible from the road. Our timing was just right and we skied some great spring snow in the evening light.

Mark admiring the view:

I never tire of these landscapes!

Pete in action:


On Sunday the weather window was very firmly shut, with wind and rain on the menu, but on Monday blue skies were forecast so we set off for the local classic Himmeltind. The top 200m turned out to be bulletproof water/ice/snow, but some patience (all the other teams skied very early for a West-facing line!) and a bit of lateral thinking gave us some great spring snow off the shoulder, so good that we booted back up another 300m couloir line for a second run!

Home for the week, including sauna!:

Skinning up Himmeltind:

Mark in 'action photographer' pose:

'That' view (again!):

Great spring snow:

Friendly native:

Back up for line 2:



With more blue sky in the forecast we decided to head East on Tuesday and found snow down to the sea in the uber-classic Torskmannen area and for once we were able to sit and eat lunch right on the summit - a rare occurence for Lofoten! Great to bump into Morgan Salèn up there with some clients too.

Summit shot:

As everyone had been skiing the regular route and the snow was quite well trashed I unleashed plan B and we found great spring snow down an untracked valley, with a short skin dropping us back over the ridge for an increasingly heavy run back to the cars.

On Wednesday with more blue skies forecast (!) we went back to the East to ski a couple of lines which had looked smooth through binoculars from the summit of Torskmannen. We joined the crowds heading up to ski Geitgalien and its South Gully, and branched off into our playground. A cool wind held up the softening of the snow a bit, but with a variety of aspects we managed to get a great couloir line in perfect softened corn (not to mention great views North from the col, and followed up with round 2 to a col overlooking the stunning Trollfjord.

The bootpack up gully number 1:

Mike skiing good spring snow on the mid-height spine before the lower gully:

Pete in the steep & narrow section:

Mike opening up the throttle on the wide slopes below our first line:

The view into Trollfjord from the top of line2:

Rian on the steep upper slopes:

Mark in the exit gully:

One feature sadly lacking so far this week has been our inimitable host Yngvar due to a family bereavement. Last night he was back and in full form as always, here seen pictured with his grandfather's harpoon:

Today sadly we are back to rain again but as the old saying goes: "He who gets motivated to go for a drive gets to fulfil a lifetime ambition of seeing killer whales cruising just off the shore"...

On Thursday we woke to persistent rain, and despite foray West with Mark and Rian no let-up (or motivating slope) was evident, but we were rewarded with the bonus of spending 10 minutes watching a pod of killer whales cruising just off the shore-line - a lifetime dream ticked for me! Only in Lofoten...

With a well-rested team the final day for Team 1 turned into an absolute classic Lofoten adventure day - we headed West to a zone I have had my eye on since the first time I came here and it came up trumps - snow from the car, not a soul in sight, not a track to be seen and some great skiing from beautiful summits - a fitting end to the week!

Thanks to Pete, Rian, Mark, Mike and Ian for a great week - see you next spring!