Some pictures from beautiful Unstad beach.
My spring trip up to Northern Norway was in mixed meteorological emotions. One sure thing about the weather in Lyngen, is that it’s constantly changing. But the view of the mountains meeting the sea is absolutely gorgeous. And! we got to ride this: Thanks mr. Ode and mr. Autio for the shred.
Sometimes we get lucky. It was the last day of my stay at the Arctix heli and hiking sessions up in the northern Norwegian mountain valley of Tamok. The previous week had been quite stormy, howling winds and rain down in the valley had us sitting inside, but the last two days we’ve enjoyed some sun and the new snow higher up was looking good. I woke up and wasn’t really expecting much of the day, I knew Cato and Sten were talking about this line they wanted to do on the Hattavarre east face, a 800m long couloir that had a sketchy entrance, a line never ridden before (as far as we knew). I hooked up with the guys and we took a last helidrop up to the top. This part of Norway isn’t easy. Changing weather, fluctuating temperatures high winds makes it hard to find good snow in stable conditions. Our east facing line had been protected from the wind and the sun had settled the new snow, so this was the day. And standing alone on top of the line, Cato and Sten already gone down, laughing over the radio, looking like small ants eight hundred meters lower down, I really felt that I was at the right place at the right time.
Here’s a video of my run down the line. Gives you an idea of how fun it was. I don’t have Catos or Stens footage, who rode first so can’t show you those, too bad since they were fkng shredding.
Though spontaneous, it seemed like the right thing to do. Catching a ride with from my friend Wills place in South Lake Tahoe to Seattle. Since there was absolutely no snow in the Sierra Nevadas in California this January, it was either up north in search of snow or trying to make it in East Hollywood L.A. But I’m happy I did take the ride and it gave me a chance to see a bit of the West Coast USA. We drove through three states, California, Oregon and Washington. And had the chance to visit Portland on the drive up. A cosy place to spend your time. It kind of reminded me of a town on the west coast of Finland. The big river, parks around, nice small cafes, food carts, best donuts I ever had and of course burnside skatepark.
Some say all the big cities are the same: In Paris you’re not in France, it’s all its own world, London is not the real UK. it’s an international blend of places etc. Landing in the New world and in New York, I realize something. The first morning I had a cup of coffee from the local cafeteria, enjoying it standing by and looking out at the Hudson river. The distances and size with its icy streaming water felt really rough and raw. There, although being in the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world, the great Atlantic to the East and large forests in the north felt very tangible.
After Christmas we went up state to go riding at Hunter mountain, skiing in a rain-turning-into-snow storm. It was wet but beautiful, and from leaving a +15 degrees New York, where I went skateboarding at Chelsea by the river the day before, we came back in the night just before the winter storm hit the next day. Bringing in 20 cm of fresh snow on to the city streets, slowing everything down and forcing people to adapt. Feeling that although surrounded by loads of people, all the great architecture and technology in the world, nature still had command on it all. It makes you small and even makes the city feel small, which is somehow a great feeling.
Freesriding is often directly compared to powder skiing. It is about finding untouched snow, the dryest powder; speculating snow quality, amount and so forth. But for me – mostly riding in what I’ll get – I’m more interested in the terrain I ride. When the snow is soft, you can go fast and high, but when it’s hard or firm, it’s nice to ride something more exposed. That is when you can trust your edges to grip and you kindof know-what-you’re-gona-get underneath your skis.
A shorter season, unpredictable snow and the occasional heat makes the Pyrenees an unattractive spot compared to the Alps. Some of it is true. Unlike the prejudice thought there’s usually a lot of snowfall, especially on the north sides (14 m at some spots this season) but(!) it can change fast, with strong winds and variable temperature.
A couple of days ago I took part in a freeride competition in Tavascan here in the Pyrenees. My friends’ brother was organizing. The venue looked good. Not so long, but quite steep, some big no-go cliff zones and a line through a challenging looking terrace rock band that looked to suit my kind of riding. The snow was literally dust on crust with all the dust already gone, when it was my turn to ride. The previous rider before me actually fell quite badly, on the same line I was going to ski, and was flown to the hospital with the hely (puh). He’s okay now, but I thought to take it a bit easy, focus on where to make my turns and make it down safe. And when I dropped in I felt right at place, steady skiing all the way down, it felt good. Moving down through various terrain in the mountains. (With a little route finding in the middle). The conditions were quite hard, and I made first place, hahaa. Here’s the clip from the ride.
I like to do more of this. Travelling small places in the Alps and visiting friends. I missed the first months of winter because of my broken hand, I have to admit it’s nearly been frustrating seeing all the postings and info about the epic conditions all over Europe on various social media. But I’ve learned to put more value on the things I have, to accept things as they come and see the bigger purpose in them. So thanks guys for making my trip. Pier, Nicke and Nives, Jaakko and Petter.
I’ve only been able to ride for a couple of weeks, but I’ve tried to get the most out of it. Been riding in variable terrain and snow, with friends a bit all over the Alps. From flying around steep trees in Bad Hofgestein, competition in the FWQ event in Goldeck, climbing ridges in the Dolomites to trying something in foggy weather and shitty snow here in Verbier, I feel I’ve seen a lot in a short time. But now it’s time to leave, recoop, plan and get back on it when the conditions are right again.