Headsweats Ambassador Michael Shelver shares about his adventure ski touring in Norway. You can find more from Michael at his website Trekking with Type 1.
When I first made the decision to move to Norway, I opened up Google and searched “ski touring in Norway”. Ever since entering the ski world, I had always heard great things about the area known for everyone being “born with skis on their feet”. One of the first links led to Lofoten, a group of islands 68 degrees North, within the Arctic Circle. This area, known famously for its fishing villages, is a landscape of dramatic peaks rising 1000 meters (~3000ft) right from the ocean. Coming from California, where all my skiing had been inland with the ocean well out of sight, I was amazed at the landscape and knew I had to ski it.
With two weeks off of class due to Easter (a huge holiday in Norway), we packed the car with way too much gear and headed up the E-6, the major road to Northern Norway. Our plan was to ski (and possibly ice climb) as much as we could in a little over a week. The trip began with a long drive and an even longer ski tour where we ended up skiing roughly 15 miles. It was spectacular, the weather was great, and we weren’t even close to Lofoten! To save some cash, tents became our hotels for the week. In Norway there is a law called “Allemannsretten” which allows you to put up a tent, or sleep under the stars, for the night anywhere in the countryside, forests or mountains, as long as you keep at least 150 meters away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. While cold, and sometimes a lot less comfortable than a warm cabin, it saved us a few hundred dollars in lodging and allowed us to extend our trip. Luckily, I had all my gear from my recent climbing trip to Denali to keep me nice and toasty, I just wish I had brought warmer shoes!
The second day we had a short ski tour on an island I can’t remember the name of but it was the first coastal peak I skied and the view was spectacular. I didn’t ever think I’d be skiing while looking at an ocean. Little did I know, a few days later I’d be skiing down to a beach, a literal sandy beach! Once back at the car, we raced up to Bodø to pick up our friend, Cyril, who had flew in from France, and to catch the 3 hour ferry to Lofoten.
The ferry arrived at roughly midnight and we found a place to pitch the tent and get some rest for the night. Arriving at night, I couldn’t really see what the islands looked like so when I woke up and unzipped the tent door, I was smiling from ear to ear. Sharp and rugged mountains rose high above us, drawing the little cabins and villages below them. I couldn’t wait to put on the ski boots and get going.
We spent days exploring the area, climbing up and skiing down the dramatic faces and bowls of fresh powder. I used my Headsweats Colorado Beanie almost every day to keep my head (and ears) toasty while out there. I also relied heavily on my Ultra Band to protect my face as sometimes the wind whipped pretty harshly near the summits. With so little people in the area, it felt like we almost had the mountains to ourselves most days. Every day I went to bed exhausted yet every morning I woke up hungry for more. After the days in Lofoten, we began to head back but instead of catching the ferry we opted to drive up the islands and around past the city of Narvik to see if we could find one nice ice climb to finish the trip on a high note.
Using mapping apps, we located a possible waterfall to explore and drove to the region. Arriving at 8 P.M., the sun was rapidly dropping but we glimpsed upon what we expected, a huge waterfall. The next day we awoke, threw on our harness, sharpened the crampons and began our ascent. It was really cold and my climbing helmet wasn’t very warm so I opted to wear a Headsweats Thermal Reversible beanie under it (and I’m really glad I did). Jean-Marie, the strongest climber of us all, lead the way and after 8 hours on the wall we had ascended 250 meters (~750ft) and were no where near the top. As with all things in the mountains, “it is always bigger, taller and longer than you think”. Although we had to rappel down as light was fading, the climbing was enjoyable and we were happy to get our tool swinging, if even for only one day on the trip. The same day we returned to Bodø, said our fair wells to Cyril and began our way back South to Trondheim.
It’s been a few days since my return, but I am still digesting the experience of Northern Norway. In total we ended climbing up and skiing down 30,000 vertical feet in 8 days. While the pictures look beautiful, being there and seeing it in person gives an even greater impact. The lack of people, the feeling of remoteness and the places we found ourselves in made this a trip of a lifetime. If you’re a backcountry skier, ice climber or outdoor adventurer, I highly recommend you take a look into Northern Norway, especially the Lofoten Islands.