Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Norway's beautiful fjords are hiding themselves!

We finally got kicked out of our nice little shelter. That was just too nice to be true I guess!

With some warm temperature, some more low clouds and rain on the forecast, we drove a little bit inland at the end of Balsfjord to a valley call Tamokdalen.

Since this valley is not directly open to the fjord and is sheltered by some mountains, the temperature forecasted there where a bit lower.
The weather was not much better than what we had experience in the past days. It was snowing at the clouds were really low. We didn’t venture too far up since we didn’t had any visibility.
We skied down on some really nice snow and since we were able to get some reference with the trees about where was the slope, we figured a second lap would be great.
As we were all stoke about our second run, we realized that a natural release just happen on the nearby slope! That cut our ambition for a third lap since the snow hasn’t stop falling.

Next day, we went give a try to an area just west of Skjold. Apparently, the weather is usually a bit better there than deeper in the valley.

There was a nice plowed parking in Skold where we saw a couple of cars where park. From this parking, you can ski the mountains on both side of the road.

We gave a try to both of them. The one on the north side didn’t had much steep and was fairly treed out. 
Sorfjelltinden, on the south side had much better terrain.

Pretty strong wind created a nice little soft slab at the top.
With what we saw on the previous day, we didn’t push any higher and lap the trees.
It was so nice to finally have some visibility that we came back the following day.
Amelie’s knee has start hurting in the past 2 days and she figure she would have a day off to rest it has we lapped pretty much the same area than the previous day.
With a nice weather window forecast near Tromsø, we drove back to get after some nice runs that are describe in the book.
I guess the weather can change really fast, since it started to rain and sleet heavily!
... than what should happen, finally happen: Etienne was sick of being wet at night and Amelie as well. I eventually rallied to their argument and we rented a cabin at the Tromsø campground. Actually, that was quite a nice discovery and certainly a plan to remember for a future Norway trip!
We packed the three of us into a tiny 2 persons cabin and woke up warm and dry!

We went gave a try to Skitntinden since the weather was (again!) cloudy and unsure!
There is only a small approach and we were suppose to have an awesome view since the peak was almost surrounded by fjords!

It has almost started to be a classic now on this trip since as we got closer to the top, weather worsen, snow started falling and visibility went to shit! 
We waited for a little weather window and headed down.
Sure enough, as we were a bit more than halfway down, the weather cleared and some better visibility showed up!
Since we got to Tromsø, we’ve been lurking at Tromsdaltinden, the massive mountain just next from town. 
We left the car in a really intense snowy episod that quickly disappear to leave place to a nice blue sky.
 After almost a week of not seeing much, we were really nice of the view we were having from the surrounding fjords.
But sure enough, as we were getting closer from the top, the clouds and the snow moved in!
Since there was some fairly high cliff bands and cornices, we stayed still waiting for the clouds to burn off.

We tried to wait as long as possible since we have already experienced too many times nice weather windows just after we started skiing down!
When we were both pretty frozen after 45 minutes of waiting so we headed down.
As we were awkwardly making our way down, we bumped into a Spaniard that was by himself and also waiting for the sky to clear.

We waited with him for another hour or so.
The wind was much calmer here but still pretty intense!
We dug a little snow wall to get shelter from the wind.
We eventually got a tiny window.
We jumped on our ski and made it quick to the bottom of the slope!
No time for picture here!
Just as we got to the bottom, the clouds move back and we were all pretty stoked to have made it down in the 5-10 minutes window!

With Amelie’s knee not doing any better and Etienne leaving in one day, it looks like even if none of us want to leave, this Norway trip might be coming to an end quicker than expected...


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Whiteouts and blue sky in northern Norway

Our shelter was located on the Kvaløya Island just a 10 minutes drive to downtown Tromsø.
From our understanding, the conditions and the snowpack were much better around Tromsø than at the Lyngen Alps. With countless options on the mountain surrounding Norway’s northern capital, we figure it would be a nice basecamp. We used Ski Touring in Troms by Espen Nordahl as our bible, yr.no for the weather forecast and varsom.no for the avalanche forecast.

For our first day out we chose to go to Little Blammanen which was just a few kilometers from our new home. The weather was really unsure and warm, to that was a nice option to check the local snowpack without too much risk.
The snow was really not the greatest one over changing from hard windpack at the top to quite mushy at the bottom. Nevertheless, it was nice to stretch our legs after such a long drive!
Overall weather at our base camp stayed pretty much the same with temperature ranging around 0Celcius (even if we were above the arctic circle) with wet snow changing to rain some times.
It was really nice to use this unused day lodge to get a bit of a shelter from the shitty weather.

We drove a bit north to the island of Ringvassøya to give a try at Soltinden (also call Rema1000). The skin up started nicely through some sparse bush. 
We eventually reach the alpine.... just as the weather got cloudy and snowy. Visibility dropped fairly fast and we eventually got ourselves into a nice whiteout. Since we weren’t able to distinguish sky from earth, we pulled the skins off and head down. Quite a shame we had to turn back since the snow (even if only 10cm), was really nice and smooth!
We were pretty bummed after getting ourselves skunk twice in two days by the weather.
I guess Ullr (Norwegian god of skiing) heard our curses and he sended us a nice bluebird day!

We jumped on this nice day to head to Slettinden.
This mountain is located on the island of Malangen just southwest of Tromsø.
There was an approach a bit longer that what I usually like (I’m pretty lazy!) but since both the skiing and the view were both supposed to be stunning, we headed out.

Skinning up was made around the looker’s right shoulder of the mountain and the ski down was made straight down from the summit on the main open face. We were all pretty stoke to finally have the nice open view of the white mountains plunging down into the blue fjords were fish farms and boats were to be seen here and there.
Skiing down the main face was as good as the view with nice open turns on some nice and steady snow! This was quite a picture-perfect day!
Everything was so different and so much better that the previous days! Since you usually don't expect deep snow for a spring trip in Norway the view is pretty nice to have!
The crappy weather got back the following day...
With not much visibility, we headed to probably the most popular option near Tromsø, Buren. Since it has been snowing littly overnight with some steady lite wind. This was pretty similar from our first day out as we got a nice whiteout as we were getting close from the top.
We waited again a bit for the weather to clear out, but since it was just getting worse and worse, we headed down where we eventually got a bit of a window...
One thing for sure, Norway is certainly pretty nice when you have nice weather (here is Etienne enjoying a nice curve on Slettinden)!
Hope we get more days like those in the coming week!