Splitboarding in the Arctic Circle – Lyngen Alps, Norway

If ever there was a feeling of floating through heaven then this was it. The plane dropped inbetween clouds offering glimpses of a land of pure snow, fjords and mountains. Everything was white except the sun was setting with pinky orange fingers clawing the landscape. The view went as the cloud came past, the plane dropped sharply in turbulent air, but who cares this was magical. A few forests and rocky peaks offered contrast but there were minimal points of reference in this dreamy arctic world. One thing was clear it had recently snowed – a lot.

As we stood waiting to leave the plane an air hostess noticed us and asks “will you ski?”, “Yes I hope so” I reply, she went on in a motherly tone; “then be very careful because three cars were buried by an avalanche this morning, after it snowed 2 metres”. “Is this much snow unusual?” I wondered, while thinking this is going to be all time, “No we had 2 metres in 1997” she replied, that to me sounds unusual. Powder everywhere we looked, like a kid at Christmas I had that feeling of excitement but at the same time incredibly nervous, we had to splitboard mellow safe terrain, no risks this week.

We are in Tromso, in the Troms region of Norway about 300 miles into the arctic circle, to give perspective we are further north than the north coast of Alaska! The boards fitted in the Volkswagen Polo hire care from Avis without issue, a quick spin on the compacted snowy road showed that grip was better than it looked. We headed out for our log cabin, which we hoped looked like this:

The avalanche the air hostess mentioned had hit on the road we hoped to follow, the cars were buried but no one injured. We had to turn back and stay at Tromso Camping, in a cosy but cheap wooden cabin. That night we stood outside for hours and watched glimpses of the Northern Lights dancing between snow showers. The first time we had seen them in our lives and it was a reflective experience in many ways, not least because I later discovered a tragic accident had occurred on the other side of the world at the same hour we were here watching these lights.

The next morning we packed the car and headed for a slope above Fagernes that we had spotted the day before. Gentle and open after we skinned up through dense birch forest. The trees loaded with snow but the angles safe to ski.

The number of other tourers who appeared told us this was the spot to be today. The snow was bottomless in places and super light.

We headed up for another run this was too good to stop riding today:

Fresh lines all day looking down to the semi-frozen ocean inlet below.

We drove the long way around to Svensby and the peninsula of the Lyngen Alps themselves. It was all on solid icy compacted snow roads, the locals are used to this but for us it was a bit disconcerting and 45mph felt plenty fast enough, we were overtaken a lot. In our defense we didn’t have studded tyres just snow tyres, but still we sped up gradually as we adjusted to the snow.
After arriving in Svensby we looked for our log cabin, it was up a track into a small birch forest, the view across Svensby was petty stunning:

Here is the view from our cabin deck:

The next day the weather was to be good but variable with cloud so we set off early to skin up to the summit of Russelvfjellet at the very far north of the Lyngen Alps the summit should offer unparralelled 360 degree sea views!

As we parked the car we chatted to a group, they were filming a segment for the next Warren Miller film. You know you’re in the right place when you hear that! The skies were stormy and as the big film group headed off I got this black and white shot which I love:

We skinned up hill on cruisey slopes because the avalanche risk was still high. Before we left the coast we saw a few idyllic looking boat houses on the sea shore.
The skin up was easy and realtively quick. The swirling cloud adding atmosphere.

The view from the top to the islands in teh north was unbelievably cool. Such a classic artic view with snow to the dark deep blue water.
Marion Scoped a steeper line down the front face, but we played it cautious, the slope was cross loaded from wind but not particularly deeply.

We did a couple of laps before a long loop out of the valley. Such a great day, nothing epic but the snow conditions were primo!

Back to the Polo and planning for day 3!

Sunset was not bad that evening, the light over the fjord simply majestic. We even spotted a white tailed eagle on a rock just watching along with us.

Day 3 was the perfect bleubird day of the week, no clouds, we set alarms for 5.30 am and rode for 10 hours.

The first mission was to skin up Otolsatinden and then Steinfjellet. A large shoulder of a mountain. The sunrise en-route in the snowy frosty Arctic world was not bad:

The skin up was steep through trees then mellow before we followed a ridge line in steady winds. The view was constantly changing but consistently amazing:

Another group had the same idea of an early start here. You’re never alone in the Lyngen alps it seems, I can see why it’s getting popular though:

The descent was certianly wind affected but soft enough to be really good fun:

Another shot of Marion before we dropped into a steeper gully and were lucky enough to find a mellow pillow line in the trees below.

No time to waste now though, we got in the car and headed to summit number three of the day I think it was called Rund-Fjellet or Rundfjelnassen. It was again a pretty straight forward climb but we spotted a steep line back down. The snow was forecast as more stable and so far that seemed accurate today.
This is Marion approaching the summit:

The view of the spikey tall Lyngen alps was from the other side that we saw this morning making a great contrast. From teh top we tested teh snow before dropping into the most committing line of the trip.
Our tracks can be seen down the face of this slope here directly from the summit on the right. THe snow was deep and light here!
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THat evening we watched the northern lights dance, but I’ll do a separate blog for this pictures!

The next day the weather had turned and warmed slightly so we headed as high as we could to get good snow. We drove to Lyngseidet and skied up towards teh peak of Kavringtinden. Part way up the steeper upper slopes we decided it wasn’t worth summitting. THe snow was mixed and visbility low. We rode down towards the day hut open in Gjerdalen valley.

Behind the hut we climbed Rornestinden at 1041m, this was a good call the snow was way better than the peak opposie we had attemped. We did three laps of the summit in the end each one a total blast!

On the way out we played around in the trees on some drops, this was a fun spot even if it was getting heavy snow.

Next day it rained so we just walked around Jaegervatnet to a touring club hut for lunch, we were greeted by naked men jumping about in the snow. Swedes this time but the Scandies all love a bit of snow nudity this wsn’t the first or last full frontal encounter in the snow! The saunas were busy today as no one was skiing, the snow was heavy and visibility low.

The final day we ventured out again to climb the summit of Fastalstinden, actually the highest of the trip at 1275m. Starting from sea level each day the vertical climbed added up to around 2000m each day on average so not too shabby.
The weather came and went, temperatures had dropped again so ice had formed in places, one traverse we used crampons to be safe. THe summit offered zero views so no pictures! THe approach involved a frozen lake which stark and dramtatic:

The wind was strong as well making it a challenge higher up. Not the best day of the week but better than anticipated and we still reached another peak.

It was back to Tromso for a night and that was our week, such an amazing place to visit, snow slopes and northern lights we will never forget. If only Norway wasn’t bankruptingly expensive post BREXIT we would be back again next year!
The Nordeca 1:50,000 maps well ideal and the Skiing touring in Troms region is available in English and a good book to buy. Going unguided was actually a lot easier than we expected, however using a boat opens up a whole world of options, if only we had the budget for it!

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