VALHALLA (/vælˈhælə, vɑːlˈhɑːlə/; from Old Norse Valhöll “hall of the slain”) the mythical Norse realm of the Gods…
Northern Norway, high above the Arctic Circle, was to be our Valhalla. The playground of Gods.
With the right to roam freely across this vast Arctic wilderness, with fishermen’s cottages available to rent, an endless supply of cod, and a comprehensive network of public ferries to transport you from one fjord to another, Northern Norway in early spring is a ski-tourers dream.
But the fickle Norwegian weather had the potential to turn our dreams into nightmares as the tempestuous elements raged for two weeks throwing everything at us, save only the thunderbolts from mighty Thor himself…
FROZEN FJORD. Broken sea ice in Altafjorden as a convoluted day of ferry-hopping to Bergsfjord begins in Alta, Northern Norway.
WHITE WALKER… After bad weather curtails our pick up by fishing boat from Øksfjord, we decide to hike through town and head into the hills for our first ski…. Winter was definitely coming….
WEATHER WINDOW. Pressing on towards a small summit in a fleeting window of fine weather.
WEATHER WITH YOU. “Walking round the lake singing stormy weather”... ski touring in circles as we lose all sense of direction on a frozen lake during a white out.
RUSH HOUR. Skinning back through the snow covered streets of Øksfjord to rendezvous with the night ferry to Bergsfjord.
THE MORNING AFTER. Following a late night arrival in Bergsfjord (which required a bit of door-knocking to finally find our accommodation), we woke up the next morning to find that Bergsfjord was pleasantly easy on the eye…. albeit when the almost constant driving snow and ice allowed us to open them!
VIKING [NOT SO] LONGSHIP. Ideal transport for ski raiding parties in the Norwegian fjords.
RAIDING PARTY. Preparing for a full frontal assault on the snowy slopes of Sør-Tverrfjord.
EARNING THE TURNS. Hiking above Sør-Tverrfjord and into some great snow…but with some heavy Norse weather on the horizon.
BLIZZARD OF BERGSFJORD. Boat accessed ski touring in the fjords of Northern Norway, where you can literally ski right onto the boat!
BOATS OF BERGSFJORD. Fishing boats in the sheltered Bergsfjord harbour. The constantly changing weather lurched from driving gale force winds, to straight-down snow with occasional small pockets of blue sky.
REFRESHINGLY NORWEGIAN… and reassuringly expensive… Hydration is a crucial part of Arctic survival. Oh, and fish. The local fishermen were extremely generous and gifted us huge Arctic cod and halibut, which were skilfully filleted by us (or rather butchered) with a blunt bread knife!
BLUE ICE. The cascading blue ice of an Arctic glacier flowing down to about 200m above sea level.
LONELY LANGFJORDHAMN. The picturesque and completely deserted fishing village of Langfjordhamn. Finding the door unlocked to the small Post Office (located on the wharf) proved a welcome refuge from another bitter Arctic storm. Sitting amongst mail bags with parcels waiting to be picked up whilst sipping hot tea was a surreal experience in what seemed to be a ghost town.
BERGSFJORD BOREALIS. The Northern Lights over Bergsfjord made an appearance on our one and only clear night!
BIFROST. The rainbow bridge connecting Asgard, the realm of the ancient Norse Gods, with Midgard – the world of humanity.
NIFLHEIM. The mythical Norse realm of primordial ice and cold…. a.k.a. another day of Norwegian ski touring.
THE BLUE BOTHY. 5 x ski-tourers weathering the storm in a bothy bag designed for 4… Strictly a no-fart zone!
- RAGNAROK | HIGHWAY TO HUSOY. Following a rough and stormy overnight ferry trip from Øksfjord to Finnsnes (subtitled ‘In Which We Lost Our Whisky’), we spent a futile morning chasing snow-ploughs hoping for the road to our next base at Husoy to open. On the verge of mutiny (2 x ‘hangry’ Valkyries will do that), we thankfully found the only place serving breakfast within a radius of ~100km2
SHELTER FROM THE STORM. Hiking up through the relative shelter of the trees during more gale force wind gusts.
HEAD DOWN INTO A HEAD WIND. Some hard yards in some challenging weather.
NORSEMEN. On the march.
HUSOY HILL. It took a fleet of Norse Heavy Metal (think Thor’s hammer) to clear the road to Husoy, but by late afternoon the steep, slippery descent to the island village was open… Only now, getting our gutless van back up the hill was the worry…
ARCTIC ISLAND. The isolated island of Husoy, quite a challenge to reach in the Arctic winter.
ICE ISLAND. Husoy sheltered amongst towering peaks of the Northern fjords.
SPECTACULAR SEGLA. Rising from the icy depths, Segla dominates the fjord landscape. It was our objective for the next day’s skiing.
SCALING SEGLA. Climbing up from Fjordgård and dominated by the towering summit of Segla.
POLAR PANORAMA. Segla Peak and Fjordgård below left.
SKIING SEGLA. Sublime skiing, sublime views.
FREE THE HEEL TO FREE THE MIND…. Or fix the heel to fix the problem?…
TELE-MARKER IN THE TREES.
WHAT GOES UP…. Must come down. Skiing down to a picnic lunch on the beach!
BEACHED AS, BRO. The novelty of skiing to the ocean never got old.
KICKING STEPS. Carrying our skis for a rare steeper section of hard, windblown snow.
LAST HURRAH. Blue skies and dry, boot deep powder for our last day.
HIKING VIKINGS. Climbing up through the trees near Mefjordbotn.
RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES. Worth the wait. Charging through waist deep powder down to sea level in the fjords of Northern Norway.
FINDING VALHALLA. Winter playground of the Gods.
POLAR POWDER DAY. Hiking up for another lap in superb conditions.
FROM SEA TO SUMMIT. And back again…
UNFENCED LAND. The right to roam applies most shores, forests and mountains in Norway making it a skiers dream.
PARTING SHOT. The fjords of Northern Noway.
PA GJENSYN NORWAY! Departing Tromso and the Arctic winter.