Oct 25

New facebook group…

Snowgenius has a new facebook group and will be updating it  with the latest news and awesome videos from the web.  Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/snowgenius

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2014/10/25/facebook-group/

Nov 07

Magic Mountain Lodge have a new website…

For anyone who’s read our review of ski touring in Lyngen here, you’ll know that we’re big fans of the Magic Mountain Lodge in Lyngseidet.  Up until now they’ve only had a facebook page – well now they’ve got a proper website, and here it is:

http://www.magicmountainlodge.no/

Don’t all book up at once though because we still want to be able to get a room!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/11/07/magic-mountain-lodge-website/

Sep 30

Lyngen day 8

“Wait a minute!” – I hear you cry.  What happened to day 6?  Well as you can see from the last post one of our party, Will, had to go home so we took him to the ferry at Svensby and said our goodbyes.  Will would be missed – as well as being a thoroughly nice chap he was without doubt the most experienced mountaineer of our group, and his wise caution often tempered our ignorant enthusiasm.  He is also annoyingly fit so could be relied upon to always be in high spirits and up for the most challenging ascents.  As the weather was distinctly average we didn’t hurry back to our cottage to get the skis, and instead went to the Magic Mountain Lodge for a reindeer kebab and another look at the guide book, and then spent the rest of the day trying to stave off cabin fever in our cottage.  So apologies for this blog jumping around.

Day 8, our last full day in Lyngen, and the weather was again pretty poor, with low visibility and strong winds.  We decided to give our local mountain, Rundfjellnasen, a try in the morning, taking advantage of a brief clear spell.  This is the mountain on which we had a midnight ascent earlier in the week.  However on this occasion after a couple of hours of climbing the wind picked up, visibility dropped to just a few metres, and snow started to fall, whipping up the side of the mountain from the sea.  We turned back, enjoying the fresh snow on the descent, and glad to drop to better visibility.  It’s so frustrating – the weather changes so quickly, and it’s bad enough that you can’t just tough it out and wait for it to clear.

After waiting in the cottage for another clear spell I decided to take the car to take some photographs of the stunning and unique Norwegian coastline, and Nick and Iain decided to give Rundfjellnasen another attempt.  The weather at sea level was glorious, with the tops of the mountains flitting in and out of cloud.  Annoyingly for me the other two were blessed with good luck and their third ascent of Rundfjellnasen was in wonderful clear weather.

Despite the ever sunny skies we called it a day and went to bed – sadly this was our last day of skiing in Lyngen and we faced an early drive the following morning back to Tromso.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/09/30/lyngen-day-8/

May 17

Lyngen day 7

Unfortunately for Will, after we dropped him off at the ferry in Svensby the weather started to pick up, and today the weather is glorious.  We wanted to have another go at a higher altitude peak which would offer glacier snow, and opted to take on Tafeltinden, a classic summit just shy of 1400m.

We drove the car all the way around the bottom of the peninsula, past Lyngseidet, and parked the car in the small fishing village of Koppangen at 710304.  The snow here came almost all the way down to the sea so we were able to put the skis on immediately.  We made our way west across the valley before linking up with the small stream which disappeared every now and then underneath the snow and rocks.  There was one slope before getting on to the glacier proper which was steep and loose – it felt like it might be prone to avalanche so we kept our spacing and moved over the slope as quickly as possible.

Once on the glacier the conditions changed markedly, with the snow colder and fresher.  To our left the north facing slopes had shed a lot of snow in a series of avalanches, some of which were quite big with chunks of snow the size of a large chest of drawers.  We stuck towards the north of the glacier’s flow, hopefully out of reach of any more avalanches which might slip into the valley.  On this hot, sunny day we could hear little avalanches being triggered on the steep slopes around us, and so for much of the ascent we maintained a good amount of separation, and kept our eyes open.

The skinning conditions were perfect, with a couple of inches of fresh snow overlaying the hard re-frozen snow underneath.  The view behind us, down to the sea, was spectacular, and the climb passed by in a very pleasant fashion until we’d got to around 950m in grid 6632 where one of Iain’s Dynafit bindings pinged apart, sending pins, springs, and screws into the snow.  Fortunately we had a multi-tool, the ever useful duct-tape, and some cable ties, and managed to bodge the binding together well enough to see us through the rest of the day.

Some clouds were threatening to form over the peak in front of us, but we pressed on, agreeing to turn back if conditions worsened.  Even though visibility wasn’t too bad, there were a couple of bits of skiing which would be a little tricky in less than perfect conditions, especially with a fragile binding.  As it was, the weather held, and we skirted to the north of Tafeltinden’s summit.  We bumped into a couple of Norwegians we’d met before on Storgalten, who were on their way down after skiing what they assured us was fantastic snow.  With this promise we picked up the pace and after curling to the south we climbed one last slightly steeper slope, and were on the summit.

This was without doubt the nicest climb of the whole trip, with good visibility all the way up, great views down to the sea, and some classic, steep, beautiful alpine peaks.  We were too excited about the ski down to spend too much time on the summit, and we set off, broadly following our tracks down.  The snow at the top was indeed fantastic, very light, knee deep powder – had the climb been unpleasant this would have made it all worthwhile, and as the climb was great it felt like a real bonus.  The snow stayed nice down to around 700m where the coverage was a little thinner, but here the slope was too shallow for good skiing anyway.  The nasty slope we’d hurried over in the morning was even less pleasant after several hours’ sun so we moved over this quickly after struggling a little to find a route through the rock bands which were coming through as the snow melted.  We were back at the car in time for tea and medals, or in this case, in time to try to purchase some dried fish from Koppangen’s fishing port.  Alas no one was there to sell us any (which I viewed as a fortunate turn of events given how the dried fish looked) and we drove home in high spirits.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/05/17/lyngen-day-7/

May 09

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/

May 08

Lyngen day 4

The weather was bad again this morning, this time light very strong winds and some rain at sea level. Clearly we would need to stay a little lower to avoid the strongest winds, but unfortunately withe the temperature in the valley hovering around 5 deg C good snow would only be found at higher levels.  We opted to have a short day to make sure we’d be rested for Wednesday, which promised good weather (at least, according to yr.no).  We elected to stay in the north, close to our cottage, and parked the car at 701595, on a small dirt track just off the coast road.

The potential target for the day was the 816m Russelvjellet. However just 10 minutes from the car we came across some ski tourers on their way down, who confirmed that it was indeed very windy higher up.  The south west face of Russelvjellet looked univitingly bare and windswept, so we pushed further east towards Dalbruna. However even this proved to be rather too unpleasant, with wet wind whipping in from the sea to the south east, so at around 400m we stopped for tea and then dropped in to the cornice laden north west slope for a brief spell of rewarding skiing, and then back down through the porridge like snow to the car.

Back home in the cottage we consulted yr.no for the weather, and pored over our maps to decide what to do the following day. We’re all keen to ski around the highest mountain in the area, the 1834m Jiehkkevarri, and tomorrow seems a good day to do it, with the best weather of the week. With closer inspection it looks to be a monstrous tour, up to 16hours with over 2000m of climbing, due to the geography of the area. Worse, the usual route finishes on the other side of the range to the start, not ideal when you’re in just one car.

We decided to call a guide we’d been recommended by a couple of sources, a Swede named Jimmy who lives in Tromso.  If tomorrow truly is the best day of the week, and from the looks of the forecast, possible on the only chance well get at a blue-sky day with the summit to sea views we came here for, perhaps we’ll be more likely to have a good time with a guide rather than without.

We’re meeting Jimmy tomorrow morning at 08:40 Svensby ferry…given that this is a good three hours earlier than our earliest start so far we need and early night tonight!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/05/08/lyngen-day-4/

May 08

Lyngen day 3

Last night the rest of the group decided to take advantage of the clear night and 24 hour sunlight to skin up a mountain we can see from our cottage, the 687m Rundfjellnasen, at 23:30, getting back down at 02:30. They had a great time skinning in what Patrik called the “blue hours” where it’s the  darkest point of the day but the sun still sheds enough light to see without needing head torches.

We had a late start the following morning, our sense of time is getting warped by the unending sun. We headed down to Lyngseidet to stock up on provisions, and then drove through to park at 713217.  There was no snow this low down here, so the first few hundred metres of climping was a mixture of skinning and booting over snow, mud, and rocks, but before long we were touring up sticky wet snow.

The visibility again wasn’t great, so we took care with the navigation and took several GPS fixings to make sure we’d be able to find our way back if the weather really closed in.  The summit we were heading for was Fastdalstinden, which being a popular mountain had tracks leading most of the way up.  As we feared the weather did close in but the navigation was fairly easy, skirting to the west of Loktosvarri before cutting to the north west to skin up the broad ridge to the summit.  The tracks had disappeared at this point, and with the summit obscured by fog we had to follow a bearing to the top.

After a quick cup of tea we followed our track back down, pausing at the eastern edge of the shoulder to enter some coordinates into the GPS to make sure we were on track.  The fog had really come in, and visibility was down to ten yards, but after a short ski following the compass and GPS we dropped out of the really dense fog and enjoyed the ski back to the car.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/05/08/lyngen-day-3/

May 06

Lyngen day 2

One of the things that Patrik told us was that depending what face we decide to ski, we don’t need to be too concerned with what time of day we need to be starting our ascents.  The snow pack at the moment is pretty stable, and of course with close to 24 hours sunlight there are none of the usual Alpine ski touring concerns about making it to your destination before nightfall.

We took full advantage of this information by lying in until 10am, and having a hearty breakfast to set us up for the day.  The weather isn’t great, with steadily falling snow, heavy cloud cover, and poor visibility. We thought we’d wait to see if the conditions improve, and head towards Storgalten, a local peak which Patrik recommended as a good mountain to start our Lyngen touring.  It also looked to be a fairly easily navigable mountain in these low visibility conditions. We parked the car at Sandneset, and climbed along the southern side of the stream, curving to the south east. We headed for the saddle to the NNW of Storgalten, with the visibility getting no better with altitiude.

The snow conditions are very good, with perhaps 20cm having fallen in the last 24hrs, on top of an already very good base.  Ski touring at this altitude is very different to touring at 3000m in the Alps, with so much more oxygen available, so we made fairly light work of the ascent, stopping to check the map frequently to try to keep our bearings.  We came close to calling it a day at about 500m with the clouds closing in, but a brief gap allowed us to see the saddle we were aiming for, so we continued up, agreeing to turn back if the visibility didn’t improve.  Alas, it didn’t, so at around 820m on the saddle between the twin peaks of Lillegalten we turned back and had a glorious, albeit tentative descent through the fresh powder snow.  With good visibility the skiing would have been absolutely amazing, as the pitch is perfect for big aggressive lines – I can’t wait for better visibility, fingers crossed things improve during the week.  Until then we’re still having a fantastic time.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/05/06/lyngen-day-2/

May 06

Lyngen day 1

We arrived in Norway yesterday, flying from heathrow to Oslo, and then on to Tromso.  We picked up our car, a Mazda 6 estate, loaded it to the gunwales, and set of in search of  a supermarket to buy some provisions. To British eyes Norwegian supermarkets are strange things. None of us knew any words of Norwegian, so a lot of our purchases were real lottery tickets.  Beer is unbelievably expensive.  We managed to fill the trolley with £200 of provisions, found some space in our already packed car for them, and set off for our destination, Magic Mountain Lodge in Lyngseidet.

Accommodation is hard to find in Lyngen. Google Lyngen and you’ll only find the Lyngen Lodge, a very upmarket hotel which runs ski tours in the area but charges £3000 per person for the privilege.  We ended up staying cottage complex which caters for tourists on fishing holidays in Nord Lenangen. At the 11th hour we heard about the Magic Mountain Lodge, but couldn’t find any information about it, although we heard that the owner, Patrik, is very helpful. Well, I can tell you that the Magic Mountain Lodge is an excellent base for ski touring, and that Patrik is indeed very helpful.  Despite not staying in his hotel, or giving him any more of our custom apart from four beers, he spent 30 minutes with us talking about conditions, routes, the weather, and other useful local knowledge. He also offered us four portions of snus, the tobacco bag you put next to the gum, and not wanting to offend we accepted, a decision we all immediately regretted.

Reluctantly we left the friendly and welcoming Magic Mountain Lodge, and headed for our fishing cottage, which turned out to be lovely, and went to bed dreaming of skiing.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/05/06/lyngen-day-1/

Apr 04

Patrouille des Glaciers

In three weeks’ time the toughest ski mountaineering race in the world kicks off in Switzerland.  Patrouille des Glaciers is a race from Zermatt to Verbier, following the route of the famous Haute Route.  It has it’s origins in WW2 when Swiss mountain troops were training to defend the South Eastern area of the Swiss Alps.  Today the race is run in two versions, the full route and the short route from Arolla to Verbier.  However, even the short route is 26km as the crow flies, and with 1881m of climbing and 2341m of descending, considerably further on the ground.

We’ll be bringing more information about this famous competition, so keep your eyes on snowgenius.com.

Some friends of snowgenius are competing in the PdG this year to raise money for Walking With The Wounded.  If you want to donate to this worthy cause please click here.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.snowgenius.com/2012/04/04/patrouille-des-glaciers/

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