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May 09

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Lyngen day 5

The weather this morning was glorious so we were pleased to have chosen today to hire Jimmy. We met at 08.40 at the Svensby ferry, and then drove south for a few minutes before turning off into another dirt track, where we left the car. The target was the unnamed peak to the ENE of Isskartindane, starting with a long skin up a fairly flat valley, before climbing up to the Isskardbreen glacier, up to the col at the top of the glacier, along the ridge to the summit, before dropping down the couloir and circling back round to the car. Jimmy was “psyched” for this route as he’d never done it.  We’d told him we wanted something a little more challenging, so when we met he quickly assessed our experience by quizzing us about the mountains we’d summitted during the week.

The conditions were perfect, with blue skies and visibility to the horizon. We could imagine what the view would be like from the summit, looking back down towards the sea, and were desperate to get up there. After a couple of hours of skinning we found ourselves at the section where the valley steepens before getting to the glacier proper, and Jimmy started to grow uneasy. There was a good 20cm of wind slab on top of the consolidated layer underneath – high avalanche danger. We tried two different approaches up to the glacier, using the rocks for safety, but they were too few and far between. After some consideration, Jimmy said that this was one of those times where we go down and go back to our families.  We turned back and skied quickly down the 600m of ascent we’d toiled for.

We stopped for a quick lunch break by a tree, looking down in to the valley and munching on our ham sandwiches. As we talked there was a boom behind us, possibly an avalanche in the valley we were just in – with the funny acoustic effects of the mountains it was impossible to tell, but it served as a good reminder that sometimes you just need to know when to call it a day.

We came home to refuel, and then headed out to have another go at Storgalten. The weather was still nice, although there were clouds on the horizon so we were keen to get going. We parked in the same place as on our first day skiing, although it didn’t look the same as the warm weather had taken its toll on the snow cover lower down, requiring us to start the ascent off with a walk through a field before clipping in to our skis further up. We followed the same route as before, climbing along the south side of the stream, this time in much better visibility.  We headed to the col to the northwest of Storgalten, and then headed up the ridge to the summit. It was a long climb, not just in altitude but also in distance on the ground, made more difficult by the icy conditions and sastrugi. As we climbed the last 200m the weather started to close in again, so our time on the summit was brief before we had to drop down over the sastrugi field to find our way through the rocks at the bottom of the final slope.

The ski descent was pretty grim, hard and icy at the top, and slushy and heavy the rest of the way.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/05/09/lyngen-day-5/

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