Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fish, saunas, skis and seas - Lyngen continued

Our fantastic 'Rorbu' in Koppangen

We still had 5 days in Lyngen to explore and enjoy the fantastic peaks. The days flew past, each day we had a different adventure and before we could really stop to reflect again we were winding our way back along the rainy highway into Tromsø to catch our flight back to Trondheim on Easter Monday - bound for the realities of work the following day.

Since then the weeks have flown by, spring has truly sprung in Trondheim and the snowy summits of Tromsø seem far away. But I will always remember that magic place and our amazing Rorbu in Koppangen and the days skiing from snowy tops right down to the lapping shores of the fjords.

Below I have written a little story about each of the peaks we climbed. We calculated that by the end of the week we had climbed (and skied down) over 9000m!

The fish (~ 35 cm)
This looks a lot like the one I am talking about

Well, this wasn't actually a mountain. Rather an incident. I went out onto the jetty to watch Ally and various other folks fishing one evening. Ally suggested maybe I would like to hold the rod for a bit and reel it in - why not? I took it and began reeling in carefully, when it occurred to me I really would rather not catch a fish. I began a little mantra as I reeled "please don't catch a fish, please don't catch a fish, please don't.... uh oh...there's a fish pulling!" A large cod had not heeded my warning, much to Ally's delight, everyone else's amazement and my horror! We ate him/her the next day )-:

Tomes Renne
On Friday we had ummed and ahhed this one through. I wasn't sure about it - Tomes renne is a 30+ degree couloir that leads up to a glacier. It is a cool access route into the Lakselvtinden area, but the weather was dubious, we were all a bit tired and motivation levels were low.

Nevertheless we headed up some crappy wet snow slopes in thin birch forest onto an open basin. Big evidence of earlier avalanches also made the scene off putting and cloud was swirling continually around the tops. Lovely, Tim and I enjoyed a nice view from a house-sized boulder while the others continued a bit higher.

Rock lounging

Little grass huts back down at the bottom

Eventually they also decided today wasn't the day for it, so we all skied down again and messed around on some little grass roofed cabins.

Sunset in the evening back in Koppangen

Langdalstindane (1580)

We decided on a longer trip, feeling reinvigorated after our not so successful attempt on the couloir the day before. Clouds were drifting about the tops as we drove through Lyngsæter and the enormous santa which dominates the town shoreline. We had to drive 1.5 hours to get to the start of the mountain.
Strange and enormous Santa on the shores of Lyngsaeter

We skinned up the pretty valley which was mostly pine forest for a change, but as we climbed it turned to birch and then we came out above the tree line and sat on some moss for lunch. Spirits were a bit low because claggy stubborn looking clouds hung to the mountain sides a couple of hundred meters above us and they didn't look about to move any time soon.

The pretty valley we skied up (this photo is taken on the way out)

Hallvard was sure it would clear, the rest of us were not so sure. We continued up into an increasing white out, until we came into the 'miniamfi' described in the guidebook - at least that is where we were pretty sure we were, you couldn't see a thing. Hallvard proposed, as he had every day so far, why don't we just chill, build a kicker and have some fun....maybe the cloud will clear in a while.
Kicker building in the cloud

Unlikely, we all thought. Still, we found a wind scoop and got some great footage of Halvard, Ally and Chris on the kicker. Suddenly, after 1.5 hours waiting in the fog the clouds suddenly lifted and we could see our route to the summit up the glacier shining in the afternoon sun! Kicker instantly forgotten we took off up the glacier.

Suddenly the clouds cleared and we were off up the glacier

Chris, Lovely and I decided to experiment with some ropeing up for the glacier travel, providing some interesting lessons. Eventually after a few mishaps we reached the top where Tim, Hallvard and Ally were and took in the awesome views all around.

Beautiful views opened up around us
We skied down the big descent one at a time to be on the safe side, and it was a massive amount of turns to get back down to the mini-amphitheater again. The final part of the descent had turned into beautiful summer slush and made for some very nice skiing. Finally we made it out to the car after a rather long but very satisfying day on the mountain.
Enjoying the sunshine on the summit
Chris on the summit
Storgalten (1210)

Sunday was a hot day by easter Lyngen standards - about 11 degrees! We decided on the easy summit of Storgalten, with the hopes of some summit to sea skiing experiences. Climbing up was really warm and stripey polypros, shorts and t-shirts were visable all round. We met Lovely on top - he had set out earlier with a Swiss group who he was catching a ride back into Tromsø with that day.

We farewelled him on the summit of Storgalten. The snow conditions had deteriorated over the last few days and nice powder had turned into wind blown crust. Ally, Tim and Halvard headed down a gully off the summit while Chris and I skied down the standard descent. Halfway down Hallvard, and then Chris with no persuasion at all, decided it was so hot that all clothes had to be removed, the only exception being essential safety item the avalanche transceiver.

Nice ride down Storgalten
Right down to the beach

I skied right down to the seaside and walked back to the car along the beach. We sat out on the grass and laughed about our adventures. The smell of barbecue wafted in the air and we realised we were all quite starving, so we drove back to our Rorbu in Koppangen for our final dinner and evening.

Back at the car, the trip had a feeling of closure as the spring felt more and more close with the melting snow and warm weather

Easter Monday morning came and it was time to clean, pack up and squeeze ourselves and lots of gear in our hire car. It was raining and gray, so our more ambitious mountain plan was scraped in favour of an easy peak on the way back in to Tromsø. Chris had fun trying out Tim's telemark skis while Ally had fun trying out Chris's racing randonnee equipment. We skiied off the mountain in slushy snow and rain and made it back to the car wet and a little cold and ready to leave Tromsø and head back to the warmer more springlike climes of Trondelag.
Ally is pretty excited about the final mountain of our trip

Journey to Lyngen Alps

Climbing up towards Tafeltinden - Day 4

Friday afternoon and school was out! We were off to Tromso, then further north to spend 10 days in the Lyngen Alps. We flew from Trondheim in nice spring weather, to arrive very bumpily into Tromso airport in 4 degrees and driving rain. We were questioning our decision to come north.

We located our 7 seater hire car and dropped Tim and Ally off at their comfy hotel, before heading back to the airport to collect Cris and find some bushes to camp in. By the time we found somewhere suitably grovelly to camp the rain had turned to snow, and we put up our tent and the three of us crammed in. It was a rather damp night - but it was free.

We met Tim and Ally in the morning (they were pretty happy because they had found a great techno party the night before) and we hung out in their hotel as the snow came down thick and fast. After that we decided to drive north, take the ferry across to the Lyngen peninsula . Shortly after the ferry crossing we parked the car and skied the few kilometers into Jaegervasshytte and found it cosy with 3 friendly Americans who had been doing loads of skiing in the area.

Serious route sussing on board the ferry between Tim and Ally

We made a big salmon dinner and enjoyed the evening in the hut. The following day the weather was still crap, snowing heavily and very wet. Cris, Chris and I decided to embark on a 'valley ski' straight through to the other side of the Lyngen range directly to the place we had booked in Kappangen, while Tim and Ally would drive around and pick up Hallvard on the way.

Cooking dinner in the cosy hut

We skied across the frozen lake and then on up the valley into the clouds. The wind was howling down the valley and the steep mountains towered up on either side of us. We had to cross a very low saddle (about 300m) before dropping slowly down the other side right back down to the sea. We couldn't see a thing on the initial descent, but fortunately it was very gentle.

Dropping down into Koppangen

We arrived at the sea and located three little red houses right on a jetty with a fish rack right beside them and a great view out towards the sea and some dramatic snowy cliffs plunging straight into the sea. It turned out we were staying in one of these wee red houses!

We found Tim inside cooking us up some delicious dinner, things were looking good. The snow kept falling and began piling up all over the jetty outside our house. Night came slowly, but eventually it got dark around 10.30. In the morning it was still clagged in and snowing, and we saw a powder avalanche come down from the cliffs above straight into the sea.

Cold and snowy out to sea - the view from our front window shortly after we arrived.

Things were not looking so good for heading high into the hills, so instead we drove on the windy roads through to Tamokdalen. There we were able to ski in some powder amongst the trees and stay beneath the cloud line. On the way back it was still 'puking' (an Ally-ism) and it was hard to see the road. Once we got home Hallvard cooked up a storm with a yummy fresh cod soup and some home made foccacia bread.
Throwing pebbles on the drive to Tamokdalen

Tuesday morning and the sky was a bluebird! We could see all the snow clad peaks around our place and the sun was out. After some deliberation we settled on a mountain - Daltinden (1533m). We skied up a nice valley alongside a brook amongst the birch forest. We crossed one massive avalanche debris, then started the climb up through the trees and out into the open. Once we got a bit higher we had our first great views over the fjord and the whole Lyngen Massif. The climb steepened and then finally we approached the flat summit cairn.

There were some big ice avalanches dropping off the surrounding peaks

Emily slowly climbing up towards the summit
A little picnic on top before we all got too cold and it was time to slash some powder!

It was nippy on top - around -10 with quite a breeze so we didn't muck around. With headcam on we started down the 30 degree descent and it was absolutely delicious! Fresh fluffy powder that made it feel as if you were floating. All too soon we were back down at the tree line, and then skinning back out down the valley to make it back down to the supermarket to buy some beer to enjoy out in the sun on our jetty.
SkiTrab-race-man crossing the bridge on the way out of the valley

Tuesday's meal was curry a la Chris, Cris was general dog's body. The forecast wasn't quite so good for Wednesday, so we decided on a smaller peak called Rørnestinden (1041 m). We met a friendly Australian called Richard who was living next door to us and he joined us on our trip. We skinned up a broad hillside along with several other skiing groups who were heading for another peak nearby.

The 'gang' on the way up

After lunch in a little windscoop which Chris dug out we climbed the gentle snowcap to the top. On the way up Chris and Richard took a high speed ascent of a nice looking slope out to the side of our mountain, then raced up to join us on the sunny and absolutely still summit. We enjoyed an awesome 300m descent down to the ridge in really nice snow, then decided it was worth a second run.

Heading up to the top for a second run

Chris on top with a great view down into the fjord

From the ridge we dropped down into a shady valley and snow conditions rapidly deteriorated to crusty ice. There was ice hard avalanche debris, and as we entered the trees we started crashing all over the place. Twenty minutes later we made it down to the valley after battling our way down amongst the trees and Chris ran back up the road to pick up the car.

In the evening we decided to try out the sauna, so after heating ourselves up to some warm temperatures we ran out onto the jetty and jumped into the freezing cold sea. It was kind of horrible, but felt amazing afterwards and there is something cool about jumping into the sea this far north. Hallvard made some delicious almond buns for dessert after all of that!
About to leave our front door - on skis!

Thursday morning (this morning) the weather was great again and we wanted to ski Tafeltinden (1395) which we could climb right from our house without any drive. There were several other groups heading up there, including some guided groups. We had to climb up a narrow gorge, then up a fairly narrow valley until we reached the Kopangen Breen (glacier). We climbed the gentle glacier for quite some time and ate lunch on our way up.

Heading up the majestic glacier

Crispin was enjoying himself a little too much on the way up!

We climbed into the upper part of the glacier with an amazing veiw out to the sea and also to the toothy peaks around the neve. We turned right and skinned up a steeper snow slope onto a great summit. Skins off, ski boots buckled down (or in Ally's case split board stuck together) and we skied down the long and gentle descent all the way back down to the gully and then right out to the sea!
Chris and me on top

Nice lines right off the summit
I really enjoyed the ski right back down to the seashore!

We hung out on the wharf until a few rain clouds popped up, then we retreated inside to create dinner. This time it was Ally's turn as head chef, and he made us real fish and chips. So we have four days left in Lyngen to enjoy more yummy dinners, good skiing and general sillyness, and of course eat plenty of Easter eggs along the way!

The Galdhøpiggrennet

When: Weekend April 9 and 10, 2011

What: Galdhøpiggrennet - a race up and down Galdhøpiggen (highest mount in Norway) on skis or for most people entered a telemark race straight down, no up part.

Where: We stayed in our little tent in strong winds at Spiterstulen - a big, historic DNT hut is also there where you can stay for some $$$. We chose just to hang out there after the race and take the cheaper option of camping on the other side of the river with all the other poor/cheap people.

Not so great points: The weather was crappy so we could only do a short course, about 500m up to a random point on the mountain side, then back down again as fast as you can on randonnee skis, then repeat.
By the time I finished the race my legs felt quite jellofied.
Chris was late starting his race due to poor organisation resulting in a little bit unsatisfying result.

Chris spies things from the top
Great points: There was only me doing the girl's randonne race so I won an awesome pink Goretex jacket! We met lots of fun people, watched the amazing telemark down hill competition and joined in the great party afterwards. The next day we climbed all the way up Galdhøpiggen and then skied the entire way back down from the summit cairn, fun fun!
Ski organisation at the top of Galdhøpiggen

Lessons Learned: Don't undo you bindings half way up the hill without being sure you have your ski secured, it runs away down the hill very quickly if you don't watch out!
Pitching tents in nice little wind scoops works well, ours stayed up when many came down.
When hosting a prize giving include alcohol, music, great atmosphere and a good presenter and you get a very memorable prizegiving/ party.
A warm gray day up on the ridge to Galdhøpiggen on Sunday
Sum up: What an awesome weekend - thoroughly recommended