Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Novafjellet: the never-ending tour

Late last night Jan-Eirik called and we made some hasty plans for an outing today. He had some family obligations before 9am and I had to be at work by 4pm, however this relatively short time frame didn't stop us from conjuring up an overly ambitious plan of enchaining Trangdalsfjellet and Novafjellet.

Objectives for the day: Trangdalsfjellet on the left and Novatind on the right

The tour started with skinning along a military access road, our quick pace induced not only by our ambitious plans, but also the signs we passed telling us that we were in a restricted area.

The first crux of the day came when we attempted to climb through the steep, ice encrusted passage beside an icefall on the way up Trangdalsfjellets south face. With no crampons we conceded that our plan was a little goofy and bailed on the first peak. What followed was a lengthy, wallowing skin around the mountain, gradually gaining altitude only to gradually lose it again to get to Novafjellet. It turns out this tour involves a ridiculous amount of flat and gently undulating terrain. Our intended route of descending the north face of Trangdalsfjellet would have negated most of this flat touring but our bailing only served to lengthen it.

After close to two hours of this flat touring we were glad to reach the final summit slope on Novafjellet. Jan-Eirik kept a steady pace breaking trail whilst I slogged on behind him glancing at my watch and counting down the dwindling time before my shift started at work.

View from the summit towards Harstad- photo from Jan-Eirik

We reached the summit just as the light was fading, with stunning views over the mountains and fjords to the west. Unfortunately the descent was in some of the flattest light conditions I've ever encountered, but the snow was decent and we'd just visited a new summit so complaining seems silly.

10 sec. clip showing the view from the summit.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spanstind and some new snow

After a great start to the winter with record snowfalls in October, we've had a snow drought which lasted for nearly two months. Nothing to complain about though because cold temps ensured that it was still possible to skin laps locally, however the focus was more on training than quality ski descents. Finally in the past two weeks we've been getting some more snow and the skiing has been getting better and better.

Last Wednesday I headed out with Jan Eirik and Gerold in the midst of a storm for some skiing on Spanstind- going up the summer route from Bukkemyra. With howling winds and visibility down to 10 metres we didn't make it to the summit, but enjoyed some decent powder down lower. Some instabilities in the new snow were cause for concern, with several micro-slabs pulling out on ski cuts we made.

The next day Jan Eirik and I headed back for round two, this time parking the car at Lapphaugen and skinning up in calm, clear conditions. Due to the instabilities in the new snow which we'd noticed the day before we took a conservative route up the ridge and topped out in 2:20, including time spent to dig a quick pit. On the summit we enjoyed a few minutes in sunlight nearly strong enough to cast a shadow, the first time in over a month. And the descent was very decent, with the best snow around tree-line.

Finally lines are filling in and the peaks are getting in shape for some real ski mountaineering! All photos are from Jan Eirik- Takk for tur!

Also the first instalment in Kilian Jornet's multi-year mountain speed project was released a few weeks ago. Below is the trailer. I'd recommend watching the whole film. You can buy it here.