With virtually no convenient access to internet up here in the countryside of northern Norway, we´d like to thank readers for being patient with our updates and their sporadic nature.
When we left off last time, we had shared with you some tales about a great blizzard we got to experience, before taking advantage of a weather window to pedal down to the docks back in Tromso and hopping on the “coastal steamer” toward some beautiful and mountainous islands near the harbor town of Skjervoy (pronounced “share vay”). Until the Norwegian coast was more completely connected by roads in the 1960s, the coastal steamer was the main life line for the numerous coastal communities along Norways 1000+ mile coastline, bringing all mail, supplies and food along with it.
We landed in Skjervoy at 10:30pm, hoping the region was possibly spared by the intense winds and snowfall we had experienced farther south and west. It turned out the opposite was true, and Skjervoy greeted us with an even deeper snowpack, colder temps and totally snowpacked roads. The night was calm and beautiful, with the mountain landscape cast in a subtle purple hue under the light of the setting near-midnight sun. The sun´s direct rays were still lighting the north sides of several mountain summits, and gradually, the mountainous island of Kogen came into view. Roadless around most of its coast, and dominated by a 4000´peak that offers countless ski lines right to the sea, Kogen is yet another skiers´paradise. Carefully pedalling across the ice-coated bridge that separated Kogen from Skjervoy, we paused under the peace and quiet of midnight to take in the view of the peaks we´d call home for a few days. There was not a car in sight on this weekday night, and while riding away from Skjervoy, it seemed as the though the world was asleep.
The recent snow and blizzard left us with not one scrap of bare ground to camp on, so we aimed for a nice spot in the birch trees several hundred meters off the road, packed a simple trail with our skins and skis, and then pushed our loaded bikes through the snow and into camp. A handful of Kogen´s towering peaks glowed in the midnight light above camp. We found a spot with just 10-12″ of fresh snow, which had been bare before the storm. We quickly shoveled it clear, and pitched our tents on a nice carpet of dry grass, shrub conifer and berry bushes. Sometime after 1am, we were drifting off to sleep.
The next day on Kogen was the stuff of dreams. A nearly cloudless, bluebird day greeted us, and cool temps and the low angle sunlight in this part of the world promised to preserve the fresh powder snow conditions on the cooler, non-solar aspects for another fine day of skiing. Kogen´s highest mountain, Store Kagtinden, stood tall right above our camp, offering a safe and relatively straightforward ridgeline ascent to its lofty 1200m summit. The views reached for 30-50 miles in all directions, with the Lyngen Alps and its adjacent fjord shimmering under the afternoon sun. The snow conditions on the summit pitch were so delectable, we skied it twice before enjoying crispy corn conditions and a 45 degree pitch on the ridgeline descent back to the valley. We toured up the valley to explore a small lake, an old cabin and dozens of tempting chutes and couloirs…most of which seemed to need another few days to stabilize to our standards.
Our crew whipped up an unbelievably tasty thai curry noodle dish for dinner, followed by some hot chocolate and tea. Sleep came easily, and we logged an easy ten hours in dream land. We set out the next day for the far shore of Kogen, skiing up and over another mountain spanning the island, through a birch forest, and right to the shore of the sea – pushing snow into the sea as we came to a stop. After relaxing for a while at the water´s edge, we skied north along the beach for about a mile, before turning back toward the island and ascending a drainage that led to a 500m pass and keyhole leading to the valley we were camped in. Blue skies of the day prior gave way to increasingly stormy weather on this day, and we barely made it to pass before white out conditions in the mountains set in.
Back at the comfort of camp, the wind and snow held off, but not for long. By midnight, winds were gusting 40-50 mph, and by morning, a steady, wind-driven mix of snow, sleet and rain escalated into near-blizzard conditions once again. This time, however, we embraced the storm in a different way – by simply relaxing for the day in our tents. We all needed a day off anyhow, and there´s nothing like being tent bound once in a while, for it gives you a chance to catch up on sleep, read, relax, play games, sip hot drinks, and sleep some more. By 11:30pm that night, the storm eased. Some of us went out for a short ski run above camp, and we enjoyed velvety turns under tempestuous skies. After being in the tent all day, it was a nice way to stretch out the body before really turning in for good.
We left Kogen and the Skjervoy region earlier this week, bound for the heart of Lyngen Alps. We spent a couple of days riding more hours of the day than skiing to get here, and camped one night on the beach – with a great camp fire – directly across from some of the highest peaks in the Lyngen Alps. Wow. Blue skies and big mountains have emerged as the primary force in our lives lately, enabling countless adventures with new friends (including a local ski guide, Jimmy Halvardsson (Here´s a post Jimmy authored about our ski yesterday, too); future ski lodge owner, David, and his wife Anna; Jimmy´s friend Linus from Sweden…and more). Forrest has been enjoying his last few days with us here on the Lyngen Peninsula, and set off just this morning for home in Vermont. Two weeks into the trip, we are now half way through. We were missing Forrest just seconds after saying goodbye, and we skied one heck of a run after ascending via a beautiful Lyngen glacier in his honor….a steep chute, onto a moderately pitched glacial ridge, through another short chute, into a gently sloping face that funneled into a great valley surrounded by peaks towering 1400+m all around us…(Forrest…you would have LOVED it.) Forrest enjoyed his last day in Norway by pedaling 100km back to Tromso, where he planned to stay with our new friend Per before catching a flight home this morning.
We´re currently staying with our friends David and Anna on their beautiful farm outside of Lyngenseidet – camped out inside a beautiful old barn on the property. It´s a a place they are planning to build into a “ski camp” of sorts (Camp Kviteberg LINK) – a comfortable, affordable base for skiers visiting the Lyngen Alps. We bumped into David when parking our bikes near the local school the evening we arrived to the town of Lyngenseidet. There is a small ski area at the school, and we were planning to ski up through the ski area to reach the higher slopes above treeline for a sunset ski tour. He is perhaps one the only locals here who uses his bicycle to go skiing, so it is rather serendipitous that we have all connected. After a couple of nights spent in a beautiful seaside cabin (Koppangen Brygger) at the end of the road north of Lyngenseidet – thank you Alf, Gunnar and Tova!…and Norway Tourism – it´s great to be back to our sleeping bags.
If you are still reading, we hope you are enjoying the updates… With the midnight light luring me outside for a walk around David and Anna´s farm before bed, it´s time to check out…
Thanks for reading. Drop us a line in the comments box if you´d like. Stay tuned for more sometime soon.