Saturday, February 11, 2017

Kongsbakktinden SE face -FKD

Micke has a good eye for new ski lines. So when he invites you along on one of his projects it's usually worth rescheduling whatever it was you had planned on doing that day in order to avoid missing out on the fun.

The story of Kongsbakktinden started last April when Micke sent me an aerial photograph. I stared at the thing for about a minute before I even saw what he envisioned and decided then and there that I wanted in. Poor weather/ unsuitable snow on the days we had planned to check it out last season meant that it was added to the (already long and growing constantly) list of things to do this winter.
With a week long high pressure system we decided to go and have a closer look on wednesday. On the drive in and approach through the trees I was kind of sceptical that we would find the right snow conditions, but figured it was a nice day for a recon if nothing else.

Micke paying part of the admission price for skiing a new line.
We were pleasantly surprised by the snow conditions the higher we got, mostly old wind transported snow rather than the wind scoured meltfreeze crust which is so prevalent in other mountains in the area at the moment. We alternated between skinning and booting steeper sections until the upper headwall where we donned crampons and double tools for the upper section which we measured at around 50 degrees and which had an icy bed surface below the older wind transported snow.
A quick break to scope the proposed line which is in the center of the image
We skied from the summit. It was a blast. We didn't really get any quality photos of the steeper crux on account of us skiing pretty spaced out.

Micke jus above the rollover into the steeper crux of the route.

Fun turns and pretty views down lower

The line
Definitely a highlight of the season so far.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Øksehogget and another weekend in Lyngen

Eight months and roughly 200 000 metres of vert have passed since the last blog post- I don’t think I’ll bother trying to summarise the interim period suffice to say it featured plenty of enjoyable days in the hills.

This past weekend the Tromsø skimo crew organized a gathering in Lyngen and Micke and I decided to crash the party and represent the Narvik contingent. The drive up to Lyngseidet takes about four hours and passes through some pretty mountains, so we figured we ought to break up the drive and go ski something.
The something we settled on was Øksehogget. A pretty little couloir on the north side of peak 1381 just south of Lemmetfjell. It received quite a bit of media attention a few years ago when it was voted the raddest couloir in Norway by Fri Flyt magazine, beating Gagnesaksla (near Narvik). I’ll admit that I was kind of sceptical of it really being that good. I figured the voting process had somehow been skewed by the hordes of Finnish freeriders who migrate to Tamok every spring. I was happily surprised when it first came into view.
Øksehogget. It's a pretty one.

Micke the alpine ninja enroute to Øksehogget

The entrance was easy to find, and there were 5 old pieces of cord around the anchor which meant we didn’t even have to leave any ourselves.
A 20 metre rap followed by a belayed ski cut took way longer than it should have and provided a great example of how little of my skiing has involved ropes in recent years and how efficiency in rope handling really does require at least some occasssional practice. The line itself is a sustained 40-45 in the upper 300 metres of vert, where it averages 5 metres in width and slackens off to the high 30s for the lower 200 metres where it is around 10 metres wide. 
photo from Micke

Photo from Micke
It skied exceptionally well: sustained and in the fall line, and whilst I do think that calling a single ski line "the best" is a ludicrous and meaningless undertaking, I do think that things like "top 50" lists can apply to ski descents. And this line would definitely make it on to such a list over things to ski in Norway.

The route we followed wasn't exactly as outlined below, we ended up heading to the pass just north of point 1291. The quickest and most direct route is definitely heading straight up the western shoulder, but the advantage of wrapping around from the north is that you get some good visuals on the line and some info on the conditions before you rap in.

A rough version of our route:

The next two days in Lyngen were great fun: filled with quality skiing with a big group of friendly folks from Tromsø. After some technique drills on the ski slopes on Saturday morning we headed to Rørnestinden for a handful of laps on the upper slope in some magical late afternoon light.
On Sunday we drove north to Koppangen and headed up Tafeltind. Conditions were terriffic given that it's been a week since the last snowfall, and I also got a nice overview of the terrain which will be invaluable in planning the next attempt at the "Lyngen på langs" traverse. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
A big group on little skis
Goalsevarri from Rørnestinden
Sven Are skinning up Rørnestinden with Store Kjostind in the background

Gang skinning up to Tafeltind

 View to the east from the summit of Tafeltind

 And to the west.