Friday, May 10, 2013

Partisan GT

 After years of speculating about a ski tour which started in Narvik and finished over the border in the Swedish ski resort of Riksgränsen, yesterday Micke and I finally set out to give it a shot.

We met at 7am and skinned up the frozen pistes at Narvikfjellet, on the way up to Tredjetoppen we were joined by Einar and Trond who were out for an early morning lap. Afer saying goodbye to them at the summit cairn we took off down the wind buffed snow around the cliffs at 1000 metres. From here a short skin brought us up to the pass before Moskočohkka (Jøden) and the first real ski descent of the day down to Forsnesvatn. After some consideration we had decided not to follow the typical ridge traverse over to Beisfjordtøtta, opting instead to get some more vertical into the day and save time which all the ropework on the ridge would require. On the descent to Forsnesvatn we found conditions were surprisingly good with some pockets of soft wind drifted snow up high and corn down low.

Terrific late season pow down to Forsnesvatn
From the lake we skinned up to the ridge again, having neatly bypassed the multiple rappels on Moskočohkka and had some great skiing in the process. We continued skinning up the ridge until a few steeper passages on wind hammered snow made us swap over to bootpacking to the summit of Beisfjordtøtta.

After a quick sandwich we made some steep turns down to the couloir which leads to Isvatnet- the skiing was tremendous and with expansive views all the way over to the Swedish peaks the stoke level for our project was through the roof.

Micke about to descned into some swirling mist just below Beisfjordtøtta

Looking back at the Isvatn couloir on Beisfjordtøtta.

From here we had a relatively flat stretch of transport skating to get across the valley towards Blåisen, thankfully a nice firm suncrust made for fast conditions. After a quick stop to change into some dry socks we skinned up the mellow west ridge of Blåisen.

Looking back towards Narvik from Blåisen's summit plateau.
 Another local classic ski descent lay in store next: Timeglasset (or the "Hourglass"), and a short skin to get us onto a NE'erly aspect and our descent to Sildvikvannet.

Micke ripping timeglasset only 2.5 hours after doing the same with Beisfjordtøtta on the horizon
Amazingly, with the time approaching 2pm the snow was still supportable and fast for our skin up Sildviktind. We opted to not visit the summit because doing so would only have meant backtracking down the ridge again, and in our eyes this summit was superfluous to the traverse.

The line we skied from point 1175m on Sildviktind turned out to be one of the big surprises of the outing in terms of decent skiing. I'd never really examined this face before and was delighted to find sustained skiing in the low 40's.

Our ski line down from point 1175m on Sildviktind
Some more skating and mellow corn cruising brought us over to the base of Hunddalen, the snow was getting rotten in places, but it was easy to find a snowbridge to cross the creek before starting our final ascent up to Nordalsfjellet.

After topping out on Nordalsfjell we skied Branten to get to the ski resort boundaries and finished the day with more frozen grommers down to the base of the resort where we enjoyed a beer before hopping on the train back to Narvik.

A few rough stats and splits from our trip:
Vertical: 4600 metres
Distance: 40-45 kilometres

Tredjetoppen: 1:30
Beisfjordtøtta: 3:30
Blåisen: 6:00
Point 1175m on Sildviktind: 7:20
Nordalsfjell: 9:00
Riksgränsen: 9:30

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