27 February to 12 March: Sea and touring in Lyngen Alps, Norway

Here we are back in Norway for a new trip within the Arctic circle, starting in Tromsö. We meet again Captain Bernard, assisted by Mumu as cook, and paulo as mechanic.
Rocked by the old engine of his wooden boat called Isbjorn (means white bear), we sail in the Lyngen fjords, where mountains plunge straight down to wild beaches or rise dramatically from the clear waters.
The place is magical, captivating, and when the weather stays kind, it easily invites you to contemplate! One skis in front of the sea, sometimes “above” it; the sun is never rising very high, giving a soft, surreal light, especially when it is playing hide and seek with the clouds.

Before talking about skiing, I would like to give a special mention to Isbjorn’s crew for their profesionalism, and their kindness. Thank you Bernard, Muriel, and Paulo, whitout who the trip wouldn’t taste the same…
And what can we say about the gastronomic meals prepared with delicacy… Handmade bread, the same for the cakes and puddings, fresh fish (salmon, cod, shrimp…) cooked with lovely spices and unusual recipes…

First trip: 27 February to 5 March

This week was a mixture of Pyrenean, English and Scottish people.
Among them, there are those who fell in love at first sight, and then, come back as soon as they can (Richard, Xavier, Bernard).
Others have fantasized about it for several years, and just turn up to realize their dream (Corine, Julie and Michael, Chris).
And finally the last ones, who weren’t thinking about it, but it dropped in on them without warning! (Eric, Tictic, Nicola).
All have taken off yesterday after a wonderfull week of powder, their memories full of marvellous images…
Thanks to excellent snow conditions and a good team, we’ve been able to do long traverses and ski steep slopes. Here is a small account of what we’ve done together.

Sunday: crossing of Ulstind Peninsula (1078m): easy skinning up in big snow fields and nice runs in powder, facing beautiful alpine peaks.
Monday: spectacular crossing of Kogen island (1163m): steep climb with crampons on sunny slopes plunging to the shoreline, and downhill on the east side in a huge couloir 1000 meters high! Hard snow at the top, then powder all the way down.
Tuesday: complete crossing of Uloya island (1400m, several ups and downs): very varied skinning up from Uloybukta wharf; birch forest, steep pitches climbed with couteaux, crossing a frozen lake and finish with crampons to reach the main ridge of the island… in the sun!
We keep going on this peaceful and large crest, wonderful balcony in front on the Lyngen cliffs and peaks.
Then, the icing on the cake, 1100 meters of downhill in a thin but easy powder, to the pretty village of Hamnes.
Wednesday: clouds are there but not ominous. After several hesitations we deciced to trust ourselves to peak Mary (1288m)! A steep climb up her ridge, opens the door to a hidden valley with fabulous powder; extreme pleasure from this long run, like a dream!
Thursday: weather is changing, we choose to skin up a deep sheltered valley on Storgalten Peninsula. We disembark on a small and wild beach, dominated by big black rocky cliff. This small valley leads us to a steep couloir, which we climb with crampons. There is a large amount of snow but everything looks safe…
From the top (900m) we can’t see very far, and it’s time to ski down before the clouds bring to much flat light… Jean-Marc starts first and clears the couloir of its fragile top layer. One by one we will enjoy this steep couloir and we will ski the best snow of the week!
Not too bad for a short cool day!
Friday: it has snowed and wind is still strong! Snow conditions have totally changed and we stop at the bottom of the last pitch under the Jmo peak (992m) because of the heavy compacted snow and the bad visibility.
A few scares on the way down to the lake, where I decided to push on, despite our previous agreement no to do so! The consequences were immediate: As the slope steepens, I feel the snow moving with me…fortunately it was slow and short. On the next steep slope another slab starts in the distance, just because of the vibration through the snow cover!
Time for a change of plan!
We put on the skins and climb back to the safe ridge to avoid the last steep slope above the lake. Nice turns after that, even the powder is getting much heavier than the other days.
Click on the following link to get the photo gallery!

Second trip: 5 to 12 March

… To be continued…

27 March 2010

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