The Lyngen Alps
A Month in Europe
The Lyngen Alps
Part Two of Three
Before I knew it I found myself in Tromso, Norway meeting up with friends and ski partners Aaron Carlson and Mason Daly as well as our guide Morgan Salen for a week in the Lyngen Alps. The sheer contrast of Norway to Chamonix and of course to Colorado was immediately evident as we stepped off the ferry and into those captivating mountains. Things were a little less steep than Chamonix but no less imposing. The mountains sat at a much lower elevation than Colorado, but actually possessed such a dramatic appeal and considerable vertical relief that I could compare only to Europe. But, perhaps the most striking, other than the beautiful fjords with which the mountains seemed to birth directly from, was the incredible skiing potential of this range. It would be a couloir hunt. All week.
One of the quietest places I’ve ever traveled. Outside of the sound of the ocean lapping again the shore, there is absolutely no ambient noise here in the Lyngen Alps. Complete stillness.
We were also welcomed to Norway by something much different than in Chamonix, an attraction of sorts, we had a nice break from skiing over the incredibly consequential exposure of the French alps, and were able to open it up a bit more. To ski a bit more free, if you will, and the Lyngen Alps gave our group access to something not exactly “skimo” and not quite “freeride.” What we jokingly called, “freemo” throughout.
Beautiful couloirs of less than 42 degrees. Sea to Summit approaches through mellow terrain, without glaciers, heavy packs, ropes, harnesses, ice axes and the rest of the mountaineering kit that seemed to be all part of the “look” and program of every skier lined up at the Aiguille du Midi for first bin. Here, we enjoyed morning ski sessions where we didn’t leave the house until well after 8 am only to ski rarely skied lines and first known descents that stood clearly visible from the road in fresh, dry powder. Mid-afternoon lunches were consumed on southerly aspects in t-shirts before beautiful pm sessions highlighted by two-hour long sunsets. Unlike in France, where a big day of ski touring provided between 3-5,000ft of vertical climbing, and sometimes up to 13,000ft of descent, most of our days in Norway were upwards of 7,000ft of vertical ascent/descent, with zero lift or tram access. The perfect situation for the human-powered skier, Norway was a place where you got everything out of the day that you put into it. An incredible balance.
Of course, a little ski-mountaineering to spice things up from the daily routine! Norway didn’t want to give up any of her “big lines” this year, as we were turned around on two objectives to summit and ski two different lines on the same peak due to difficult climbing conditions and avalanche conditions, but we did have an eventful descent of the north couloir of Sofiatinden, better known as “sofia’s darkside.” This was the only descent of the entire trip to take place in a north facing aspect! Incredible snow, and an even more fun onsight descent. Completed with 1 rappel.
Similarly to Chamonix, the time seemed to move at twice the pace as it does at home in Colorado, and week seemed to only last the length of a blink of an eye. It was tough to say goodbye to Norwegian ski euphoria, but our team was now ready to dive back into the heart of an epic winter in the Alps, and so we left splitter blue skies for snow, rain, transitional weather between winter and spring, and strong winds back in Chamonix.