Mountaineering :: Trekking :: Ski touring


March 9th - 16th

Saturday 9th. 10cm new snow. Overcast (3hrs sunshine!)
Two of the team arrive in Tromso on Thursday and two arrive on Friday. This gives them time to familiarise themselves with the peculiarities of high latitude winter tourism. The snowpack in the streets of Tromso (altitude 0m asl) is well over 100cm and would put many alpine resorts to shame. With temperatures of -8° not forecast to rise for at least a month there is little chance of the winter freeze ending soon. The rest of the team fly in from the UK in the evening, but SAS decides to leave their skis in Oslo until the following day.

Sunday 10th. Overcast and snowing.
The keen team (Richard & Hamish) pay a morning visit to the ski slopes outside town and manage some runs before the lift opens (at 10.00 am).  They enjoy light powder snow and fine views over the sea. Could this be the start of a great week? David drives to the airport and is pleasantly surprised to find the missing skis have arrived. The s/v Goxheim motors north for eight hours to tie up at the jetty in Uloybukta on the East side of Uloya Island. The snow falls gently on the deck all night, but the boat is nice and warm inside.

Monday 11th. 15cm of snow.
The weather forecast predicts 3 days of snowfall, but it looks OK at 09.00 so we set off to skin up Saetraksla 960m. It takes a little over 3 hours to reach the top and we ski on through waves of snow showers that roll in from the sea below. We are lucky to reach the top in a short clear spell and peer cautiously over the huge cornice that hangs over the mountain's south face. As we start to ski down we can see another squall blowing towards us, so we hurry to get down the steep slopes before it hits and ends all visibility. Despite the time pressure the skiing is enjoyable. Deep, light powder extends from 960m to sea level without any change in weight or consistency. This is why we are inside the Arctic Circle in early March. We climb aboard the boat and sail south to Lyngseidet, enjoying  great views of the eastern side of the Lyngen Alps on the way.

Tuesday 12th.  Snow in the morning, snow in the afternoon, snow in the evening, Total 20cm. "Yesterdays forecast was bad and the weather turned out to be OK so lets hope that it does the same today…" We skin up through the forest aiming for Kavringtinden 1289m. There is a brief 40 minute period when we can see the summit and we hope that our optimism will be rewarded. But soon the clouds close in and the wind picks up. Finally after 3 hours of climbing we admit defeat and turn around at around 900m. The descent in poor visibility is a challenge to both ski technique and navigational abilities and we are thankful to emerge from the forest in one piece and at the correct place.

Wednesday 13th. Just a little snow in the morning.
The forecast suggests a poor morning followed by a better afternoon. We disembark at Furuflaten by 10.30 and start skiing by 11.00. It is cold and cloudy as we skin westwards for 6km up the Lyngsdalen valley, and we are protected from the wind. We turn south and start the steep climb to the 1533m summit of Daltinden which we reach at 16.00. On the way up the clouds clear from time to time giving great views west to the Jiekkevarri massif and eastwards to Lyngenfjord. The snow on the descent is pretty good and we carve fine turns on the 1200m slope. We complete the descent in the dark and get back to the boat by 19.00.

Thursday 14th. Perfect weather! Clear skies, light winds (and not snowing!)
Starting at the southern tip of Uloya Island we leave the village of Havnnes at 09.30 and skin steadily to the 1064m summit of Kjelvagtinden. It is then just a short distance to Uloytinden 1114m where we stop for a leisurely lunch enjoying fine views of snow covered mountains and fjords in all directions. The west facing descent is the best of the week: steep, deep power all the way down to the sea, with just a few trees to fight with above the beach. Goxhiem has sailed around to collect us and soon we are on board enjoying hot food and cold drinks.

Friday 15th.  Fine day, mid level clouds and moderate winds (not snowing again!)
After spending the night at anchor by the tiny island of Nipoya we make the half hour trip to Ringvassoya after breakfast. By 09.30 we are all skinning through the birch forest heading towards the 1000m summit of Nordfjellet. Conditions are clear for most of the climb, but intermittent cloud cover develops as we near the summit. We catch glimpses of distant summits and fjords through gaps in the clouds before starting the descent to the boat. Good snow conditions make a fine end to the day, and the week.

5 days, 4 summits, 5,507m ascent/descent.

March 16th - 23rd

Saturday 16th.
All eight members of the team arrive in Tromso at the correct time and with all their luggage. The weather is fairly overcast throughout the day and a few flakes of snow fall in the afternoon. We set sail from Tromso harbour at 17.00 and motor north for two hours to reach a sheltered anchorage by the small island of Nipoya.

Sunday 17th. Weather overcast, gusty breeze, cloudbase above 1000m.
We motor for 30mins to reach the island of Ringvassoya and disembark by dingy.  We follow a gentle angled trail through the birch forest for a few hundred meters before emerging onto a broad backed ridge that rises towards the summit of Rema Tusen. The wind gets stronger as we gain height and the sky becomes more overcast. 200m below the summit we turn around and ski 800m down to the boat finding a mix of good and average snow conditions on the way. Once back the boat we motor north for three hours to tie up by the pier in Vannvag on Vannoya Island.

Monday 18th. Mid level & high level clouds and moderately strong gusty winds.
We follow a pleasant trail up a sheltered valley to emerge onto the exposed south facing slope of Vankista. We endure a short spell of poor visibility but as we approach the 947m summit the clouds clear and we are rewarded with great views of the surrounding islands and the open seas beyond. The snow on the descent is mostly good and we enjoy some fine skiing on the way back to the boat. In the late afternoon the boat sails three hours eastwards to the Island of Arnoya where we spend the night on the pier in Akkervik.

Tuesday 19th. Clear skies and strong winds.
Today there are no problems with visibility or route finding. The sky is clear and there are great views in all directions. The route up Trolltinden starts gently through some sparse trees and then climbs onto an open and exposed South facing slope. The wind gains in strength from the South and blows us up the hill. The temperature falls and there is an arctic ambience to the climb. At the 850m summit we shelter behind the huge radio tower to remove skins from skis and prepare for the descent. Despite the cold wind the snow conditions are fairly good and we stop to take some photographs on our way down to the boat. The small harbour is sheltered from the strong winds, and we decide to spend another night rather than sailing out into the choppy waters.

Wednesday 20th. Perfect weather. Clear skies and very little wind.
We leave Arnoya at 07.00 and sail to Uloya while the team enjoy breakfast below deck. Arriving at 09.00 we are all on shore and skinning through the woods by 09.30. The weather is perfect and there is only a light breeze as we traverse the island from East to West via the summit of Blatinden 1142m. The exposed ridge leading to the top gives great views over the Lyngen Peninsula to the West. The snow on the descent is firm for the first 500m and then becomes softer and nicer for the lower 600m down to the sea. 30mins after arriving on the 'beach' the good ship Goxheim arrives and we sail north to our next destination as the evening light falls over the landscape. To round off a perfect day we buy 5kg of fresh prawns from a local fishing boat and they makes a great pre dinner snack. Then before turning in for the night we are treated to a marvellous display of Northern Lights over the village of Nord Lenangen.

Thursday 21st. Clear skies, windy morning, calmer afternoon.
A 09.00 start sees the group climbing the open slopes of Storgalten 1219m, close to the northern tip of the Lyngen Peninsula. The slope is at an average angle of 30° and we make good progress despite the cold wind. The ascent route is a bit icy as we crest the summit ridge and the team resort to using ski crampons for the last few hundred meters. We reach the top just after 12.00 and after a short lunch break we are ready to start the ski descent. From the top there are great views over all the peaks that we have climbed in the past few days. The snow is variable on the way down but quite acceptable and we carve wide turns all the way down to the sea. After cold beer and hot soup we move the boat for two hours to get into position for tomorrow's ski.

Friday 22nd. Overcast day with changeable weather.
We land at Dalheim by 09.30 and travel for a few km up the level Oldervikdalen valley before turning east onto the slopes of Ullstinden 1078m. We climb through thick trees for a few hundred meters before emerging onto the open hillside above the tree line. The wind picks up and the cloud level drops. By the time we reach the 700m contour visibility is less than 50m and we decide to retreat before the weather gets worse. On the way down the weather clears a little and we stop to eat our sandwiches before continuing down the beach where we are picked up. By 13.30 we are sailing south to Tromso where we spend our last night on board the Goxheim.

6 days, 4 summits, 5658m ascent/descent

Many thanks to the crew of the Goxheim, Charles and Philip, for looking after both groups very well, and for their excellent cooking.

David Hamilton 23/3/2013

David Hamilton
High Adventure
67 Castle Road
CV10 0SG


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