Norway Ski Touring Adventure 2018

Words by Lee Townend, Snoworks instructor.

This year I was lucky enough to be the host instructor and guide for the Snoworks Ski Touring Adventure in the Lyngen Alps, Norway, now into its third successful year. The previous two Norway Ski Touring Adventures were hosted by the ever zestful Nick Quinn.

With the superb expertise and assistance of British mountain guide Ric Potter we set about making this a trip for all to remember.

Here is a short daily diary blog of Norway Ski Touring Adventure 2018 and some top tips if you’re considering joining us on the 2019 spring trip. 

Day 1 – Rørnes`tinden (1041m) and Kavringtinden (1278m)

On the summit of Rørnestinden

Following a hearty breakfast at the lodge and a short drive we donned the touring skis for the first tour. The weather looked kind with low wind and broken cloud. A buzz of enthusiasm ran through us all. We started with a beeper check and up we went. For the first 500m we ski toured up as one group with Ric leading. I acted as sweeper and photographer to capture the days memories. We stopped each hour for light refreshments and photos along with an avalanche transceiver range test. Once we reached the saddle we were above the tree line and were gifted with our first amazing views of the snow capped mountains with icy fjords in all directions. We split into 2 groups with Ric leading a team of 5 up to the slightly higher peak on the left flank and I lead 6 to Rørnestinden. A relatively easy tour with minimal kick turns and no need for the ski crampons. We summitted in 4hrs 10mins to views that you MUST go and see for yourself. These views are just one of the many reasons this trip is so wonderful. We had a picnic lunch at the top with views that literally blew you away. The obligatory photos, the transition back to a downhill setup and then the ski down. Powder at the top, spring snow on the lower section and with some careful navigation we popped out into the supermarket car park and straight in for coffee, cake and grab some provisions for the lodge and après ski. 

Day 2 – Giilavarri (1163m)

Nick Openshaw descending Giilvarri

The first of todays unique moments was the approach to todays tour. We drove the short journey to the town of Lyngseidet, parked up, boots on and got on to the ferry as foot passengers storing the skis and poles in the metalwork in the ferry next to the parked cars! Very cool! We headed upstairs for coffee, cake and settled into the 20 min crossing sailing across the fjord to Olderdalen. The skins starts here!  Todays weather was a little moodier, so after 800m we split into 2 groups. It was looking like the time and weather were going to mean we may not all summit. Rick romped on and I took the remainder. The weather came in on the summit and navigation skills were required to descend the first 200m or so. We then skied powder and spring snow to finish all the way to the road edge. A short walk and back to the ferry for the return crossing. A very unique way to tour and another fantastic day had by all. 

Day 3 – The bad weather day (1312m)

Multi powder pitches for all 

Todays forecast was not looking the best so Ric and I made a call that we would not go for a summit attempt today, instead we opted for a north facing tree lined climb that would offer laps of powder turns. Every day, every hill, every experience was different. Today’s tour started with a 3k gentle incline up through a stunning valley with ice waterfalls on the rock walls each side and an idyllic forest track. We then kicked up left and gained 800m to be confronted with sunshine, views across fjords and open gentle meadows of untracked powder for all! Not as forecasted. We transitioned and whooped our way down the slope where we had to #earnyourturns. Once back into the tree line Ric set up an avalanche scenario and the group smashed it finding two transceivers in 7mins in a more realistic environment than your standard avi training park. Up we stomped for a second lap enthused by the quality of the snow and the ever improving weather. We stopped this time en-route to dig a snow pit and do a shear test. We knew the snow pack was ‘interesting’ to say the least but it was an education and opened everyones eyes as to why we were staying off steep terrain. Run 2 delivered equally epic fresh tracks for us all. Then todays split came with 8 tired and happy clients calling it a day with over 1000m climbing in the legs they headed down with Ric leading. I stayed with the super eager remaining 3 and we dialled in a third lap. A little higher and dropping a different line we were rewarded with some of the best turns of the trip so far. The price you pay! A little ‘combat skiing’ through tight trees and river beds and a short 10min ‘combat skin’ out of river bed! We all agreed it was worth it. 

Day 4 – Fastdalstinden (1275m)

Steve Tonks jumps for joy descending Fastdalstinden 

The sky was clear, the sea was blue, the air was cold, this was going to be amazing! Today we went as one team and all summited this amazing peak, sitting quite centralised with views that are etched in my memory forever. A short steep skin with crampons and up to the huge glacial lake, followed by a flat traverse and a stop for refreshments to take it all in. We popped on the skins to tour up the steeper last face. With Ric setting the perfect tempo I scurried around, infront, behind and everywhere like a spaniel to get the pictures, video and bring out the drone to capture this stunning day tour. We took our picnic lunch a short way from the summit as the cloud had just covered the top. Picnics with views like this are something extra special, another of the many reasons that if you tour you must do Norway with Snoworks. We summited, made the transition and skied down the South and East facing slopes. The ski started with a weird icy crust (don’t be put off) that broke up safely as you skied it and made the most amazing acoustics. We then exited hard right to the best and softest powder of the trip so far. Skins back on for a short punt across the lake, a spring snow pitch followed by moguls at the bottom and we were all down safe and buzzing. Beers and chips in the local bar. What a day! 

Day 5 – Daltinden (1533m) & glacier trip to Tafeltinden (1395m)

Summit celebrations on Daltinden

Sunshine and perfect weather was the order of today so big days were planned. 2 groups, 2 separate ascents, both over 1500m. Team Ric would take a short boat trip and tour up the glacier, harnesses on and off to ski the amazing Tafeltinden. The group came back saying things like “best day skiing ever”. The pictures and day even topped yesterday! Team Lee toured the mighty Daltinden. Bearing in mind the highest peak in the Lyngen alps is 1800m this makes our climb stand high above the rest. We started in the most beautiful tree lined valley (5k). The glacier screams up in the distance and avalanches were crashing down the south facing slopes in the distance as the sun warmed them. We turned left at the rock and climbed the remaining 1300m to the top with 360 degree vistas and perfect weather. A summit picnic and then for the skiing. WOW! So many different snow textures; wind loaded pow, cold winter north facing snow, transformed spring corn. A-MAY-ZING. An incredible day, each day has been so different and so amazing.

Day 6 – Little Galten (883m) + little hill & glacier trip

The climb up Little Galten

Our last tour for the 2018 program with sunshine forecasted again. Ric and I swapped teams from yesterday so that he could take the remainder of the group on the glacier Tafletinden. I took the others to Storgalten at 1230m. At 500m and 1 hour in the weather changed and capped all the summits. A change of plan to summit the smaller and aptly named Little Galten at 833m. A complete whiteout at the top but with careful navigation we got on to the south west facing slopes with spring conditons and great snow. We stopped in the valley for a lovely picnic lunch and my team collectively decided the short hill with the spring snow was worth a punt as it would reward us with amazing views out north towards Svalbard. Another spring snow descent and we got our now obligatory 1000m plus climbing in for the day! We descended for run 2 in great snow and headed into the local cafe on the fjord for coffee and cake!.

Considering joining us in 2019 or after? Here are my top tips.

  1. Be prepared: This is an amazing must do trip for all ski touring enthusiasts, from those quite new to ski touring up to pro tourers. However you must prepare physically in advance. To tour for 4hrs+ per day for 6 days you need to be well prepared in order to enjoy and make the most out of the trip. 
  2. Kit: It is essential on this trip to take touring equipment (or hire locally). Lightweight pin bindings and light touring boots with Vibram soles and walk mode are a must. You also must have ski binding crampons. Please call or email Snoworks if you need more detailed info on this.
  3. Join a Snoworks Backcountry Access Course and train before you go: The better your kick turns, the better your ski technique, the better your mountain craft and off piste skills the more fun and better holiday you will have. If need off-piste experience you can begin the journey by taking a Snoworks Off-Piste course or Backcountry Course, then move on to a Backcountry Access Course. We can help you get to the level for this once in a lifetime trip.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] I hope this blog goes someway to convincing you to join us on Norway Ski Touring Adventure 2019 or beyond. Click the link for details.

Lee. 

Ski Norway (1) ski touring (2)