The Lofoten are getting more and more popular for Splitboard- and ski touring. Even if the summits are just little beyond the 1000 meter mark, so the terrain is demanding and beautiful above all. Since the touring usually starts at sea level and countless peaks are close to each other, respectable vertical meters sum up.
Let's start at the beginning - the idea of a splitboard trip to Norway has long been floating around in my head. By chance, I talked about it with my colleague Benno, who was already touring at the Lofoten a few years ago. He was so impressed by the land, sea and mountains, that he would like to make the trip across the Arctic Circle once again. We voted possible dates and started organizing flights, car hire and accommodation. Quickly our eight-member group of old friends, work colleagues and mountain rescue buddies found together.
Six months later, it went off. The flight from Munich to Oslo went smoothly despite the huge amount of baggage, which then took place in the rental cars, too. It was already night as we drove away from the destination airport Evenes at the foot of the Lofoten. A Starry Night as noted. Halfway to our lodging in Henningsvaer, something else was shining alongside the stars. What at first seemed like city lights behind the mountains, grew to a dancing formation of white-greenish glowing northern lights. We stopped our two cars at the roadside, got out and gazed at the spectacle with our mouth wide open. After a time we drove on and after arrival at our apartment right by the sea, we could again enjoy the impressive natural show. This time directly from our balcony and armed with tripod and camera.
After the impressive arrival in the middle of the night, the next day it was time to orientate ourselves, to buy food and prepare the material for the tours.
To keep pace uphill with the ski touring guys, I had decided to mount the Phantom HardBoot binding from the US on my proven Goodboards Splitboard from Ammersee, to be on the track with my Dynafit ski touring boots. The Setup promised precise climb and good grip at traverses in the ascent and with the perfect tuning of boot, binding and board also a fine Snowsurf feeling on downhill. Both would come true in the coming tours fortunately.
So the next day we set off early to go for the first summit. We parked in Kabelvag near a school and slid along the cross-country ski track for half an hour to reach the foot of the mountain. From the bottom it went up through bushes on moist but not too heavy snow up and quickly we reached the tree line. From there, curved ridges changed with with rugged rock formations. Guided by our three experienced mountain foxes Jürgen, Berthold and Sedi, the group of Benno, Lucas, Henry, Martin and me made our way to the summit of Varden (700meter above sea level). The views over snow-covered mountain peaks down to the enormous fjords of Lofoten was fantastic. The mountains in the sea left us eight people look vanishingly small. I pulled on something warm, grabbed my Phantom binding elements from the backpack and mounted my Goodboards Splitboard.
Even if the wind had certainly affected the snow something, the run halfway down to a flat slope was a real joy. There we skinned up again and in order to make use of the good weather we headed for the nearby summit of Spisstind (662 above sea level). For the ascent we chose the windblown west side where I was glad of the lateral support by my Dynafit Hardboots in some icy sections. After the second peak arrival we rode down towards the valley again and at the end we arrived in a military zone. From there, we hiked back the long flat way along the cross-country back to our car.
Done and happy we arrived at our apartment in the afternoon, with no other hikers had been seen and treated ourselves with a local oil - means a light beer. To celebrate the good touring day we visited the climbers cafe in Haenningsvaer, which was well attended this evening. Here we met a group of Austrians who spent their last night in Norway. The nice Carinthians told us about their touring week and raved about this South Gully run from Geitgaljetind. Reason enough to consider this tour for the next day.
Since snowfall was announced for the following days, we actually decided to do the tough climb to Geitgaljetind (1085m) and the descent through the South Gully. We wanted to do this dream tour with at least half-decent weather and before this gully becomes more dangerous with fresh snow. Some clouds and fog patches passed by, but the conditions were quite fine on this day.
We drove with two cars and parked one of them closer to our final point of arrival. With the Second we drove back to the enty point in Liland. At the bottom the snow was pretty wet and because there also was not too much of it, we had to sidetrack up a steep slope. The conditions demanded precise climbing and after many traverses we were happy to get back in more open terrain above the tree line. From there, the view across the Austnes fjord over to the peaks around Kvittinden was a feast for the eyes again. After a few hills and a beautiful crossing over a rocky ridge we approached the entrance to the South Gully. Jürgen, Sedi and Berthold went straight to the summit, while we got ready for the steep descent into the gully.
When another group approached, I decided to ride into the gully directly. On the first few meters the visibility was still pretty bad and I could hardly recognize how steep the channel would go down. But from one moment to the next I was carried through the wisps of fog and saw how the South Gully tended further down to Austpollen Fjord with a steady gradient. I enjoyed the quick turns between the cliffs and waited at the end of the channel for Benno and the other guys, each arriving with a smile on the face. We celebrated some more fine turns together until the snow was getting heavy and less. Through bushes, over rocks and in a creekbed with icy edges we struggled towards the sea. At some points I had to unbuckle my board, but the last few meters up to the fjord I slid sideways again standing on my Goodboard. Good! Perfectly!
Following we hiked one more hour along the fjord to the car. With a view of the massive Geitgaljetind and the sea to our feet, the long distance appeared shortly. On the way back to the apartment in Haenningsvaer we made a few stops to take pictures and to let pass by this great touring day in review.
The forecasted Snow front really met us the next day and so didn't go for touring but visited the Kabejau Fish World Cup at Svolvaer, the capital of the Lofoten. Many ships, plenty of fish and a good atmosphere dominated this event. While the skicrew, despite changing weather conditions, went on tour the next day again, I treated myself with one more day of rest. I drove to the end of the maintained roads to get an idea of the whole archipelago and the snow conditions in the south of the Lofoten.
With renewed energy and in bright sunshine, we went back on tour. For this day on our agenda: The Torskmannen (755m) and the Breidtinden (818m).
In the morning we parked at a power plant and then again through bushes and shrubs upwards. When we reached the ridge, on our right Breidtinden and on our left the Torskmannen stood in fairytale light. The path to the summit of Breidtinden was not difficult in these great snow conditions and only the traverse to the peak required a little more skills. The panoramic view from the top was impressive again and after pulling the skins off and mounting the board, the powder descent waited for us. Back at the ridge we saw two groups of people arriving here. Again we wondered, why guided tours always start that late here in Lofoten. Nevertheless, we went back on the ascent, this time for Torskmannen. Again, the ascent ran smoothly and on the ridge next to the summit we waited together and prepared everything for the run towards the power plant. With each turn Bredtinden laughed from one side and the Vestpolltjorna fjord from the other - just cool!
When we arrived back at the car, 5 other minibuses suddenly stood around ours. Without worries about touring in queue we left satisfied for our apartment.
The next day our fortune of lonely touring seemed disturbed. We parked not far from the village of Laupstad. Only this time there were already quite a few cars that we had seen the day before when returning, parked at the starting point of the tour to Pilan (828m).
Anyhow we stayed relaxed and and followed the tracks into the fog. Again we went through bushy terrain and came to a plateau. There however, all traces went east towards Sautinden (596m) and we saw at least 20 hikers on the way to this small summit. Of course we stayed with our plan and went west on to Pilan. Jürgen put us an almost perfect straight track over the hilly terrain to the foot of the summit. Due to the strong winds and the lack of visibility, we stayed at the col just below the Pilan, stowed the skins and descended into the valley. Some of the other hikers were now also on the way to Pilan, but they did not seem too be too happy about our track straight as an arrow.
Meanwhile we drove back towards Hennigsvaer, again stopping in Svolvaer for some recent purchases. It was our last evening in Lofoten! So we packed up our things before we went to the climbers cafe again. This time we were the only guests there. Nevertheless we enjoyed our farewell drink.
So the last day dawned. All the luggage was stowed away in the car and we were off to the northeast, back towards the airport Evenes. Halfway we had seen a few ski tracks in the dark on our outward journey and we took advantage of the good visibility that day to accurately see this mountain in more detail.
Spontaneously we took our touring gear out for the last time and made our way to a summit, whose name we would find out later, because this area was no more on our maps. We started from a control point for trucks right next to the main road. In the lower forested part were 30cm powder snow. The higher we got, the more lifted the fog and the sun flashes through the clouds. When we reached a plateau where we had guessed to be at the summit, behind another rise and when we had climbed that, we saw the next rise.
Ultimately, we stood up on Gullesfjordfjellet (835 m) and were happy about a really nice last Lofoten Tour. So I mounted my Goodboard together again, stowed the Phantom binding parts in the backpack and surfed with changing views through the fine powder down to the road and our cars.
The journey back home then proceeded as smoothly as the arrival, as actually the whole great trip. We slept near the airport, checked in all the luggage and were there to take it back undamaged at Munich Airport after our stopover in Oslo. Finally we enjoyed a farewell dinner in a typical Bavarian inn - thank you Lucas for the invitation!
Thanks also to the whole team - it was wonderful touring between sea and sky! Lofoten - we'll be back.
Thank you Pez for this interesting and informative report from Norway. Our author Peter Radacher is at home at Mühlbach am Hochkönig, specifically in the natural snow ski resort Livingroom Hochkönig. There is also his Snowboard Museum, among others with interesting Splitboard exhibits.