Terry left from Val d’Isere at 5am. Flew from Geneva to Oslo, to Tromso, then to Alta. Rich had already been in northern Norway for a few days skiing. The rest of the team were due to arrive on the same flight as Terry, however all but Luke missed their connecting flight and spent a night saunaring in Oslo. We arrived at the boat for about 5pm, had a quick trip to the supermarket for local liquorice, zero alcohol and gluten-free beer. Dinner was outstanding. The cabins are small and cosy, beds medium to soft and extremely inviting after a long travel day. Terry had shoulder surgery 3 weeks before this, climbing into the cabin bunk was complicated.
Luke was super keen for a ski, we headed off the boat after a nice breakfast and having prepared our packed lunches. We set off in a remote bay up towards a distant glacier. We covered 800m of ascent across mixed snow and avalanche debris. The obvious couloir line down looked perfect and had some nice old powder blown in. Exiting the couloir we found spring snow down to the forest where we tracked back around to the water and got picked up by the little rib and taken back aboard. After some soup, sunbathing, a few beers, and a quick snooze the boat took us back to the original dock to pick up the rest of the team.
With warm temperatures overnight and a sea mist that had engulfed the boat, we set of from the tiny fishing village and arranged for the boat to meet us in a different fjord in the afternoon. We walked through a birch forest and along a lake, watching the birds and reindeer. After touring through a col we skied humid spring snow down to a wide open beach area that I would guess nobody has ever sunbathed at, or built a sand castle. To get there, we made a river crossing where Jez had a slight sense of humour failure. There was a bit of a swell blowing waves in, making getting into the rib interesting. Knut throw the life vest to someone and it got wet then set off the gas canister. This didn’t impress the captain.
The bad weather continued today and with the team needing to take care of some admin, work from boat, shopping and it being Norwegian national day, we stayed on the boat in the morning and then went to a ‘pub’ for a local stew and mash for lunch. We thoroughly embraced the day drinking and eating and being merry, however this sleepy fishing village had no mega-party like we had potentially thought. A tipsy walk back to the boat for dinner and a few games of cards was exactly what we needed.
The weather improved dramatically and we woke to clear skis and the high sun in the sky at 7am. The sun had now been on the East faces for 6 hours, rendering decision making in the mountains very very different to the Alps. We took the rib to the shore of Star Island. We toured 1000m to the summit then tried to navigate the extremely blind rolling terrain to the natural harbour we could see luring us to the boat and afternoon tea. This was a long day with lots of small pitches of extremely sweet spring snow. The sea temperature was about 2 degrees making swimming enticing. We all got in, with Archie staying for a worryingly long time.
The final day tour was from a protected bay back up towards the glacier we had spotted the first day. And it was a beautiful valley to walk up. Winding left and right into small bowls where we had to negotiate a way out the back to gain more height. The descent was unfortunately on crispy and hard snow, the temperature had dropped significantly overnight leaving no chance of spring snow today. However, being in these locations is really not about the snow texture, the views skiing back to the boat were truly special.
We woke early ready to pack bags and find everything we'd stashed in the tiny cubby holes on the boat.
Archie looked desperately for the compeed that he'd borrowed from Tom and lost immediately on the first day.
Breakfast was another mixture of cold cuts, cereals and sweet light brown cheese.
After probing for a sense of humour and further winding up the crew we off-loaded our bags to the transfer bus and headed for the airport. We then listened to a riddle from Jez, googled the answer and then pretended to guess clues closer and closer to the answer which was unbelievably tedious.