Fjordland in a mobile basecamp

March 12, 2015 | 12:01 pm | No comments »

Senjatripping (3 of 4)

This season I decided to ride more local and not chase snow all over the globe. It has been a dream to explore the nearby mountain ranges and wait for the conditions, not chase them. Also, the birth of our first-born reduced the desire to travel in to distant mountains and made the desicion natural. She was born at the heart of the winter. It has been wonderful to watch and share her first everything.

Most of the good mountains here above the Arctic have fairly short approach from the road but the winding roads are in desolated areas and there is no accommodation around. RV makes the perfect transport-basecamp combo in Northern Norway. During summer, I found a great one that has gas powered floor heating, good insulation and big trunk where I can store and dry snowboard and surf quivers, camping and fishing gear, other equipment and even mountain bike. A perfect basecamp which parks at the foot of a chosen mountain. There is no better way to start the snowboarding day than by gazing at your line while still sipping your morning coffee (while waves are breaking on the other side!!)

 

Senjatripping (4 of 4)

 The arctic sky put up an amazing northern lights show for us one night

Our (Me, Jani Kärppä and Miikka Peteri) plan was to scope out conditions and ride in Lyngen, Senja and Tamok. Forecast history didn’t promise much for the riding part since warm temperatures and high winds had been plaguing the regions but you never know what you are going to find until you go.

Season start in Northern Norway has been slow this year, like it has in many ranges all over the globe. Winters are turning weird, or worse solid winter seems to be fading. Winter jumps from early season straight to late season. Consistency of winter conditions is lost. At least, this is how it appeared to us again on this trip.

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The forecast history was pretty much spot on. Conditions seemed more like late April than mid February. Snow pack was fairly thin and it was wet even higher up or really wind beaten. Our trip turned out to be more scoping and less riding. On the positive side, it is early season in these latitudes and  the base is solid now. We found  lines that went straight to the hitlist and all they need now is a new cover.

fugl (1 of 1)photo: @jkarppa

The weather continued to be warm and windy through out the week. We drove around in different regions but conditions were more or less the same everywhere. We  stuck to poking snow, exploring new places and enjoying the scenery, wild life and camper life.

Karvis (4 of 5)

I also wanted to catch some surf while exploring the coastal mountains. There was a big swell approaching but winds were a problem again. Good swell waves were ruined by high cross shore winds that generated small wind waves against the good ones. Yet again, arctic winter surf turned out to be more of an beautiful and raw experience than good surf.

arctic surferphoto: @jkarppa

We almost decided to leave and return only after the conditions got better but the suddenly weather at least calmed down. You can’t pass a sunny spring day in the mountains with the ocean below. We were scratching our heads to find a sheltered couloir that might still have some good snow. We ended up in Lyngen after some detours and cloud dodging. Our pick of a south facing couloir turned out to be great surprise with some soft and dry snow at the top part. It brought back the good feeling of climbing and riding pow. Now, let it snow and the season to begin in the Arctic.

 

Karvis (3 of 5)Miikka Peteri putting in some steps for the turns

Senjatripping (1 of 2)

 

One tiny day

September 5, 2014 | 5:14 pm | No comments »

Small is beautiful, sometimes. Tiny surf and trekking day in Lofoten Islands with Mikael Sangder. Clear sky, light and atmosphere compensated the ankle high waves.

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Endless sun

July 15, 2014 | 10:13 am | 1 comment »
midnight surf

Midnight sun and surf

I was eagar to head north again when I saw that a good size swell was about to hit the norwegian coast. It’s rare to see forecast this good during the summer months; 6ft swell with a good perioid, decent winds and warm temperatures. An opportunity me and Iisakki Kennilä could not pass. We packed surf boards and camping gear and started the still longish drive norhtwest from the Arctic Circle.

We arrived to one of the more famous surf bays just when the swell started to pick up but we were not alone on the beach. About thirty cars were parked around the beach and water was swarming with other norhtern surf enthusiasts. We decided to set up camp and wait for the “night”. Day does not end during the summer months in this latitude (68+). Sun does not even touch the horizon but stays well above it all day all night. There is only different tones of light in the bright sky which makes the active time last for about two months straight! We paddled out just after midnight when there was nobody out anymore and most cars had left the beach. Swell had definitely picked up but an onshore wind messed up the perfection a bit. Nonetheless, it felt great to be out in the water and it was way warmer than I thought. Last time was few months ago when snow was still on the ground and it was freezing!  We stayed over two hours and had to paddle in only when the arms gave up.

 

Arctic surf 2

Unknown surfer. When we were not in the water we were staring at the surf.

Next day the wind died down a bit and the swell continued to pick up a little still. Waves were overhead at best but they were also fast and closing out which, on the positive side, kept the line up uncrowded. Surf was not easy after a long break but that did not spoil the fun at all. Arctic surf between the jagged peaks is always an unique experience and even more so in sunny and warm weather.

The swell died after the next mornings session. Locals said that this kind of surf only happens few times during the summer. So we got lucky with 48 hour window of waves. We were also surprised how lively the surf community is above the Arctic. Cold water and ficle conditions only seem to make people appreciate the surf but also the fellow surfers even more! The line up was happy, friendly and also very international. Scandinavians were well represented but there was also surfers from Brazil, South Africa and Australia!

camp vibes

camp vibes

After the sea went flat we went exploring the coast line more for future trips. The coast line is endless and unbelievably beautiful. Mountains protect and hide big part of the coast. Pristine beaches can be found just byt hiking from the road for few hours. I never get tired off the scenery here, not even from the car window but you can’t come to Norway and not hike a mountain. Things do look different from the top. It is the most traditional, natural and beautiful thing to do here.

arctic surf 3

Midnight hike. These views are hard to beat. Oh, and there is surf below.

 

24-hour sunight is hard to deal with. Not that I wouldn’t be used to it since it’s light all night at home too but there is just so much to do here where to sea meets the mountains! After the surf was done we still went fishing, hiking, cheked out some mountain biking trails, snorkeling, climbing and etc. You can pick your active or chill time of the day but it still feels that 24 hours of sun is not enough to cover it all.

 

arctic surf

When weather was this good we didn’t even bother bringing a tent.

 

The most prominent landmark between Sweden and Norway - Lapporten - Looks like a huge half pipe!

The most prominent landmark between Sweden and Norway – Lapporten – Looks like a huge half pipe!

 

TURQUOISE WATERS AND EMPTY WAVES

July 22, 2013 | 5:51 pm | No comments »

panaitan (62 of 90)

Summer came fast although there was more snow than in many years in the North. One weekend the temperatures went up and never really came down again. I switched snowboard pants and boots straight to boardshorts and flipflops and I was still home in the Arctic circle. The warmth felt good. The air between my toes felt even better. It was not long before I started to long for sea, salt and waves. I was really tired of being on the road for six months straight but the call of the waves fortunately took the best of me trying to bury myself into the couch. I have grown a habit of going on a surf trip after snow season… and good habits die even harder than bad ones.

SALTY DREAMS

We’d been talking about a trip somewhere in Indonesia again for several months and it started to become reality by booking flights to Bali. It’s the perfect place to start the indo travel – get equipment together, some paddling power to spaghetti-like arms, get used to tropics and get the first lobster tan going. After indulging in awesome warungs and restaurants and getting frustrated with the crowded surf it’s good to change to some other island in the Indonesian archipelago. There are tens of thousands of them so plenty to choose from!

We have been doing these surf trips for several years with our friend Kimmo, founder of Finnish surf brand Asenne. He resides in Bali year round and has the hunch for the best spots and destinations. So me, my girlfriend Laura and Mikael trusted him to be the travel mastermind and coordinator – He suggested West Java this time and we gave the thumps up.

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CIMAJA

After a short flight from Denpasar to Jakarta and long drive we got to Cimaja, small village in western Java and home to some good surf and surfers. Kimmo had been here before so he organized everything and soon we were in a cozy house in the middle of the rise field and walking distance from surf. Kimmo’s local friend Iman came for a sunset surf with us and let us in on the local spots and things to try out. Iman and all the locals were really helpful and friendly. We got some curious stares and shy smiles for being so blonde but surfing was pretty established in the village and travelers were not a new sight like in some more remote places in Indo. Cimaja is also a weekend destination from Jakarta and we were told that it might get crowded in the water. The swell really picked up and there was lots of people on the beaches but the lineups stayed empty compared to Bali. We drove around with a moped or took a boat to different waves in the region but there was never more than ten guys in the water and we made four out of those!

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Local ripper at Cimaja

 

 

ISLAND TIME – UJUNG KULONG NATIONAL PARK

We met our boat crew and surf guide at the port of a one small fishing village. The guy greeted us and started to tell us stories about the island and surf. The opening sentence was pretty much like this:

“you guys brought wetsuits and helmets, right?”

“….ohh nope we didn’t. Why?”

“Ooh so shallow and dangerous there. I almost died. I never surf again”

We casted looks on each other in disbelief. Ok, that was a nice welcome speech and good marketing for our NOT yet paid trip. At the same time we saw glimpses of our board bags being carried towards the boat and our transport speeding away. I guess that was the “cancellation policy”.

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Leaving land behind

We had done some homework of course about the waves and the descriptions sounded pretty serious but so does most in Indo. Many of the waves are described: ‘for pros and kamikazes only’ but that does not mean they are no-go. We talked little more and found out that there was also not-so-life-threatening waves to be found. Panaitan and surroundings started to sound tempting actually and the first scary bunch line started to lose (I don’t know what) meaning. We double checked that everything was in order and as agreed over the phone which is always good to make sure before hopping on a boat for a week. Sun was blasting when we stepped on the pretty safe and stable looking local fishing boat. It was far from any western standards but was floating at least. The wind felt good on the skin and we were excited of the adventure ahead and to get out of the hot and dirty land.

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We got to Panaitan before sunset and had a brief session on a nice right hander. Water was crystal clear and refreshing after the travel. Then we had to still rush back to the neighbor island where our huts were. There was no buildings nor inhabitants on Panaitan. The islands were part of a Ujung Kulong National park and there was only one place to stay on land. We arrived to Pulau Pechang after dark and were greeted by wild deer and boars wondering on the beach. We settled in to the forest ranger houses. Jungle was loud and I felt surrounded by nature. The hectic indo traffic and busy towns felt million miles away.

Morning company

Morning company

In the morning a monkey was sipping last drops out of our beer cans that got left outside of the rooms. Big lizards were walking on the white sand and pelicans of some sort fishing out of the crystal clear water. It was out of this world or at least didn’t feel like  this century. We had breakfast on the boat admiring the new scene that we just woke up in. And then we surfed empty waves.

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My bottom turn at Angels. pic: Laura

 

Mikael's cut back. Reef was never too far away.

Mikael’s cut back. Reef was never too far away.

There is several world class waves in the bay of Panaitan island and few more on Java mainland. We cruised between different waves for the next day picking the one that looked best that given moment. We learned pretty quick that the waves were mostly really heavy and shallow. It was a dream destination for many pro surfers and we could understand why. The waves were excellent but didn’t allow mistakes. Going over the falls or getting caught inside were not really good options. We surfed most of the waves but some we didn’t dare to even try. The most famous and dangerous is One Palm Point or Kelapa Satu to the locals. It’s almost kilometer long left hand barrel when all the elements come together. You can have the ride of your life but you have to be ready to pay the price. It breaks insanely shallow over razor sharp reef. Our guide Nomo said you will hit the reef when you fall. We saw the wave working on a pretty big swell and there was few guys in the water all wearing full suits and helmets. We settled for watching. We got big enough thrills from Illusions and Napalms. Swell and winds were right for them few times but it would have been great to get to surf them more and get used to them. Now it was more feeling them out and being intimidated. Mikael hit his fins on a rock just by sitting in the take off spot of Illusions! Kimmo got washed on the reef in Napalms and was soon in knee deep water.

Unknown surfer on Napalms

Unknown surfer on Napalms. pic: Kimmo

There was few other boats on the bay but there was no crowds by any means. It was actually nice to have more experienced guys in the water sometimes showing the way. But most of the times we surfed by ourselves. The wave we surfed most was Angel which was little shorter and bit less scary so we got to surf it alone every time. Having great waves just with your friends is pretty unique these days. Crystal clear water which changes color by the angle of the sun, empty white sand beaches and surf, we had hit the jackpot!

 

DISTORTIONS IN PARADISE and GREENER DREAMS

Indonesia is my favorite tropical destination, perfect holiday from winter. It’s not only home to best surf in the world but also amazing nature and crystal clear ocean, great food, happy people and good weather.

But there is also lot of contrast everywhere you look, taking care of trash being one of them. You can find the most pristine beaches or the dirtiest villages not far from each other. Nature is respected and disregarded at the same time by tourists and locals both. I experienced the far floating trash first hand for the first time in the bay. Winds and currents brought heaps of thrash to the uninhabited island and line up. It was a unexpected nasty surprise to paddle between plastic scraps in the clean clear waters. Crap starts to creep in even to paradise! It’s sad and worrying to see such things even if I knew of it’s existence long before this experience. What can I or anyone do? It’s easy to say that everybody should take notice and recycle but most people, specially in developing countries, can’t even afford to think about recycling let alone cleaning things up. In a big scale it seems like a impossible equation and dilemma but fortunately people have started to take action. Bali for example have had to wake up to the pollution and trash problem and now there is bunch of organizations working for cleaner future. And it’s working already! These organizations and people are crucial to the less-crap-future and spreading the word. So by supporting their actions, thinking and doing alike and spreading the word will hopefully make a difference.

Floating plastic next to the line up

Floating plastic next to the line up

 

Dirty village in Mentawais. Crap washes out to the sea.

Dirty village in Mentawais. Crap washes out to the sea.

 

I always try leave the least impact possible. What should be simple and obvious; don’t leave anything behind in nature, does not seem to be so simple for many. I try to pick up my own and little more when I travel. Of course I understand that traveling is not green action in the first place but it has also opened my eyes in a new way and into this world. Somehow it’s easier to realize things through own experiences, both good and bad and things in small and big scale. I dream greener, trying and hoping to do more in the future.

 

 

Island hopping – Surfing and snowboarding

June 6, 2013 | 9:11 pm | No comments »

Second week of May, 2013

Spring is warming up the northern world again and snow starts to melt back to water. Powder starts to be more rare but the surf dreams wake up as the H2O changes state. Storm cycle passed through the northern mountains and coastline with strong winds. Mountains were not really accessible nor tempting  but strong winds create different kind possiblities – waves. I checked swell forecasts for the islands close by and it showed some possible bumps in the ocean so we decided to go island hopping and hopefully surfing.

Mountain islands

 

Norwegian coastline follows the scenic trend best out of the whole the counry – it’s annoyingly beautiful for a neighbourg living in the flat inland parts of the North. The coastline is very broken and full of mountain islands raising more than kilometer high straigth from the crystal clear ocean. The sea looks amazing from the mountains and visa versa. Along the coast ocean reaches far inland with long fjords cutting water passages into the mountain scenery. It’s simply mesmerizing – when the weather is tolerable… and that’s not everyday in Norway.

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Fjord sunset last August

 

Last summers trip to the islands

Henningsvaer in Lofoten

The weather is very variable in the coast and can be extremely harsh. In these latitudes the temperatures are rarely on the warm side which is good for the winter activities but hanging out with a surfboard next to the cold sea with freezing temperatures requires… some dedication and proper preparing. Lot of the days are so nasty that even the dogs like to stay in but I mostly try to fool myslef with a frase: “there is no bad weather… only bad choise of equipment”. But when skies do open up and the conditions come together the islands are unbeatable. On a perfect day you can ride powder on great mountains all the way to the shore and surf after. I don’t think there is many places in the world like that.

After driving around I found a couloir that fell straight in to the sea and a wave close by and  managed to surf and snowboard same day! One dream came true that “spring” day but I still have to keep waiting for the perfect day on the islands. It was windy like never before and the couloir didn’t bring enough shelter so I had to turn back little before the top so I wouldn’t fly away. It was snowing time to time and waves were small but really fun. Even if the conditions we not perfect I had the best time and discoverd the potential that I have been looking for years. The scenery was unbelievable and the nature was strongly present; seals were checking the surf out and eagles were cruising above. I couldn’t stop smiling with my blue lips.

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Waves didn’t mind the weather so why should I?

 

Green waves in the middle of the mountains

Green waves in the middle of the mountains

 

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couloir straight to the ocean

There is so much potential on the islands for surfing and snowboarding but the exploration and finding the right spots takes time and dedication. There are few spots on the map but there has to be so much undiscovered gems on the islands. Mountains are more visible but the waves do not show themselves easily. And also the roads don’t go nearly everywhere so the access to shores is not easy. But who ever said that easy was rewarding?

The storm passed and the wind calmed down. Surf went flat and waves disappeared in to hiding again. Snow was not so good anymore this late in the season on the islands so we decided to return back to bigger mountains. Maybe the storm brought some new snow to higher altitudes since it was snowing in the coast too.

 

 

 

 

 

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