Discover Splitboarding episode 3. – Conquering the mountain

March 22, 2016 | 6:38 pm | No comments »

MiikkaHast-JaniKarppaPhoto-2220

Blåbaertinden south face, photo : Jani Kärppä

In the third episode we ascent and descent a mountain, Blåbaertinden, Tamok, Norway, from bottom to the peak. We will go through the basic techniques and information what you need for climbing and riding a mountain, a full tour. Everything from the essential planning, skinning and hiking techiques, on tour route finding to preparing for sudden changes while conquering a mountain.

 

 The most important in the mountains is to stay alert and pay attention to the surroundings and conditions at all times. Try to think well ahead while ascending and riding down too. It prevents you from getting into “what the hell I am doing here”-type of situtations, which happen easily in the mountains when conditions suddenly change or you lose your line for any reason. It is always good to have a back up plan.

How to choose a mountain to conquer then? If you are on an area you don’t know, the best way to start is ask questions and tips from locals, dig into touring guides and consider hiring a mountain guide who can open the gates for you.

Locals usually know a good place to start and something about the snow conditions but always trust your own gut feeling too. After asceding one mountain you will see more yourself and pick the next peak to climb and ride.

Touring guides are great help for planning tours. They usually point out the commonly used routes, difficulty and time estimate. It is not easy to figure out the starting point or estimate duration of the tour when entering new zones and the books provide this info cheap. Good planning will make the tour lot more relaxed.

Hiring a mountain guide is always the best option if you don’t feel comfortable stepping into new terrain by yourselves. They ensure the safety and you can learn a lot by just obeserving their routines and ways in the mountains.

Book tips:

For the Finnish readers there is a great book about freeriding and stepping into the mountains. Vapaalasku -kirja is highly recommended for any one interested about snow, mountains and freeride culture.

“Staying alive in avalanche terrain” by Bruce Tremper is a classic. The name pretty much sums it up.

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.

tooth (1 of 1)

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)

 

Maypow – the long wait for the right conditions

November 5, 2014 | 11:13 pm | 1 comment »

Big plans were made already before the season had even started. I wanted to get in to alpine terrain and ride bigger lines than before. My goal was to ride lines in Japan, The Alps, Alaska and Norway – My dream locations. On paper the plan and schedule looked perfet. I was aiming for my best season ever and I was ready for it but Nature didn’t get the memo. Season 2014 turned out to be a lesson of patience. Everywhere we went the conditions forced us to change the plans. It was either snowing too much or not enough for the alpine terrain to open its gates to the dremy lines. It was May before I got to drop in to terrain I had been planning on.

 

I spent half of March and April in Tamok and Lyngen filming with Approach&Attack crew. We had good snow and great times but got only glimpses of the bigger lines. The conditions were just not right for the bigger stuff like it had not been in Japan, Alps or AK. I started to give up on the hopes of riding bigger stuff. It just was not happening this season. I went home end of April with thoughts of maybe still coming back from some spring snow. But then the forecast turned around. Cold low pressure hit northern Norway bringing lot of new snow still this late in the season and after a cold high pressure was supposed to roll in.  I contacted Jonas Hagström and Justin Lamoureux and gave them the thumps up. The end of the long wait was in sight finally.

 

MayPow (4 of 8)

Backside of Lakselvtindane – the famous Lyngen massif

It was still snowing when we met up in Tamok. We decided to start straight with the Tamok classic, Öksehögget, since it was protected couloir and didn’t need clear skies for visibility. Conditions proved to be as good as I hoped. Month in the area had given a knowledge of the snowpack.  The next day the strom cycle moved on, skies cleared and the snow was stable. It was on now! The warming may sun was the ony thing we had to watch out for. In May it didn’t really drop below the horizon anymore. We shuttled between Lyngen and Tamok day and night riding classics and possible first descents of the area. “Good things come to those who wait” – proved to be correct. We rode and hiked two lines and over 2000m of vertical on the best days. Season truly climaxed at the very end!

Öksehögget (1 of 1)

Öksehögget (english: axe cleave) – Tamok classic. 500m vertical of narrow and consistant 40-45degrees couloir.

 

 

Check Justin’s blog  for his take on the trip as a first timer to Tamok and Lyngen.

PART 2. – Mountain Sanctuary

May 24, 2013 | 10:26 am | No comments »

PERFECT SPRING – Sun, camping, splitboarding, powder, lines and couloirs

Postadsfjellet_camp (3 of 9)

Jonas at cauliflower camp pointing at the next line

 

Eventually sky did open,  almost just about the same time as the bird had to leave. How coincidental? We did get some stuff done with the help of the spinning blades but it was like nature was working towards getting us on our feet the whole time this spring. First high pressure showed up on the forecast the same time as the helicopter was still visible in the horizon flying away. But it didn’t really bother me or any of us. Of course it makes filming easier and access faster but at the same time creates this pressure and takes little something off from the peaceful feeling of  being in the mountains. I was happy to return to my own feet and splitboard.

Tamok_part2_2 (2 of 7)

On the way up to plateau in Stordalen

 

Now we had pretty good idea of the snow conditions in the valley and had a solid plan what to do when the weather finally opened up more than just few hours. We packed our camping gear into big backpacks and hiked up to Stordalen. (Autti, Hagström, Siivonen, Autio, Lahtinen, Kärppä and Ollilla). Jonas came in few days before and brought the swedish luck with him. I was happy to ride with him again!

We had decided to set camp on a plateau in about 1000meters where we had great access to all kinds of riding above and below us. It was a hike an a half to get up there with 30kg backpacks but the spot paid off and back ache disappeared in the surrounding views.. We were in a big bowl between Postdalsfjellet and Sorjfjelltinden. From the tent you could see lines around 270 degrees and the rest was dedicated to a view of the fjord. You could not ask for a better spot! We spent the next days hiking up straight from the tent and riding lines back to camp, fueled up and repeat. The remaining time we spent admiring the sunsets and the amazing views. It was just perfect. Me and Jonas ended up staying one more night since the weather seemed to be on our side this time and could have stayed even longer but food ran out even when the others gave all the remaining food to us before they left. It felt amazing to be all alone in the mountains but in the same time we had to remember that when riding – help was not close either if something happened.

Tamok_POST (1 of 3)

Riding the cauliflower face. Pic: Jonas Hagström

 

 

 

COULOIR HUNT

When the sun comes out for days this time of the year it’s obvious that it will warm up the snow pretty fast too. At this latitude it rises up early already in April and sets late which gives a lot of time during the days (and nights) but also effects the faces longer. The high pressure that we had during the camping mission heated up the mountains and we had to turn to northernly aspects and sheltered couloirs to find the best snow. We did find some awesome couloirs in Lyngen and Tamok. Sometimes the snow was still amazing powder and sometimes we had turn back or ride more challenging conditions. My legs and body started to feel the stress of the previous non-stop month too. The weather was warming up even more so it was a time to take a little break. I dropped Jonas off in Tromsö airport and drove home admiring the mountains along the way. It was time to visit friends and traditional season ender events and parties but I was planning to come back as soon as the conditions would settle again…

Jonas dropping in unnamed couloir in Lyngen. Own footsetps guiding the way

Jonas dropping in unnamed couloir in Lyngen. Our footsetps guiding the way

 

FIRST DESCENT AT PÖTSI – The NIGHT SHIFT

Approaching Pötsi at 4 am

Approaching Pötsi at 4 am. photo: Mikko Lampinen

I returned north in the beginning of May. Conditions had settled but snow hadn’t melted at all. It hadn’t snowed much either but there was some jewels still to be found. I teamed up with Ape Majava, Tero Ainonen and Mikko Lampinen. Ape had seen this couloir in the backside of Postadsfjellet that might still be in good condition. It is facing northeast and gets the early sunlight. We started at 2 o’clock in the night to catch the best light and for safety if things started to warm up too fast. The sunrise and the light on the mountain were specially beautiful this night and our couloir looked seductive. So we raised the pace. We reached the bottom around the same time with the sun at 4.30. We discovered that the snow was still dry and amazing, tougher to hike up but rewarding to ride down. The sun was fast and we were trying to beat it almost running up the couloir as fast as possible. I didn’t feel too comfortable under the big wind lips and tried to keep my pace fast. We reached the top of 600 meter vertical couloir before six am and were soon ready to drop in. Snow and conditions were awesome and riding was easy besides the leg burn from the fast hike. We succeeded on the first ascent and descent and the couloir got the name Pötsi. One of the best missions of the season for me.

Ape ripping the first turns. May Pow!

Ape ripping the first turns. May Pow!

 

 

 

FROM BEST TO WORST

MayTamok (3 of 3)

Ominous Otertinden couloir. almost 1000m vertical of slippery ice.

Few days after one of the best missions of the year, I did one of the worst. I Hiked up solo this long, almost 1000m vertical, couloir at Otertinden in similar aspect as Pötsi hoping still for good snow or at least soft spring snow when the sun heats it up. I trusted the forecast too much and was concentrated on the hike that I neglected the conditions. I was few meters from the very top of the narrow, partly 45-50 degrees steep and still icy couloir when I realized that the sun was hiding behind the clouds still and would actually not warm up the icy surface at all. I had been to eager to reach the top and had nobody but myself to blame. After swearing for a while and waiting for miraculous clearing of the sky  I had to admit my mistake and make my way down somehow. Teemu was filming from the road below but the low clouds were circling between us so he could not even see me all the time – not the best situation. I started jump turning down the slippery chute with ice axe in my hand in case of slipping. It was one of the worst runs of my life and little sketchy too but in the end I had no troubles of making down safely. Teemu said that he could hear my turns and sliding to the road from kilometers away – that’s how good the snow was! Learn by doing and from you mistakes could be the lesson from this one. Well, anyway I was one experience richer and I did see a wolverine and a snow weasel on the way up crossing the snow field.

Ice axes came in handy - both going up and down!
Scratching and side slipping my way down.

Scratching and side slipping my way down.

 

MAY POW – WINTER AND SPRING CONTINUES

Snow was not really going anywhere. It still stayed reasonably cold the following week and we found dry snow on higher altitudes. It even snowed a little every now and then which gives a short time window for the next day to score some really good may pow on sheltered places. But you also have to be up an early bird to catch the worm otherwise you might get flushed by the slough. May is still awesome time to spend up in the northern mountains even when the snow starts to change quick as the sun circles the sky endlessly. The weather is better usually and there is almost 24h in the day to spend outdoors.  As the sun begins to heat the norhtern world round the clock the sea starts to look more and more tempting…

Sea view from powder house

Sea view from powder house

 

Caravan life - my home in Tamok. Surfer mag awakes dreams of surfing. Luckily the sea is not far

Caravan life – my home in Tamok from end of March to mid May . Surfer mag awakes hunger of surfing. Luckily the sea is not far…

 

Special thanks to Tero Ainonen for the additional footage, Jonas Hagström and Mikko Lampinen for photos and everybody else too riding and enjoying the time in the north. Next up surfing… and snowboarding!

Mountain sanctuary

May 9, 2013 | 7:35 pm | No comments »

part 1 – Road  North

Tamokki (1 of 1)

Tamok valley – Feels like home

After a winter of traveling with airplanes, trains, rentals, taxis and other transports on different continents it’s so comfortable to pack my own car and my second home, caravan, and just drive north. My intention is park the caravan at bottom of Tamok valley which has started to feel like home away from home – a spiritual home, and spend the rest of the winter and little more enjoying the endless possibilities of the northern playground. Our plan was to film for Antti Autti’s new project for several weeks and play it by the conditions.

Tamok_300313_photoTeemulahtinen 13

Snowing snowing equals pow pow. Photo: Teemu Lahtinen

 

Hast_blower_bw2_Tamok_photoTeemulahtinen

Face shot? photo: Teemu Lahtinen

Troms commune is situated well above the arctic circle in northern Norway and it has 666 peaks reaching over 1000meters and thousands of kilometers of coast line. I wonder if devil himself will show up for shred if you ride all the peaks! Tamok is situated nicely in the middle of everything in the county, just inland from Lyngen peninsula. It has more dry climate than the coast and the snowpack is between coastal and continental. The snow is usually more stable in Tamok than elsewhere in the commune. 30 kilometer long valley has lot to offer and makes the perfect base for missions of any kind and level. Valley itself is still undeveloped and there is only about 70 inhabitants on the whole stretch. It makes a perfect getaway from crowds. Just friends and mountains, what more could you ask?

Northern Norway is a paradise when the conditions come together but can be harsh too. The arctic location and sea makes weather variable and sometimes difficult. Mountains are magnificent and lose to none in comparison but the weather and the snow can change fast. The northern climate does not produce so much snow as Alaska for example but good years come not too far. This has been one of them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Forest couloirs are good option when the visibility restricts alpine terrain. Photo: Aadne Olsrud

Perfect snow

I parked my caravan in Tamok in the end of March and there was tons of snow already then, the most I have ever seen here in seven years, and more was to come. We planned a helishoot with special permits for the beginning of the trip with a help from the “king of the valley”, Aadne Olsrud and Jarkko Henttonen who have basically founded freeriding in Tamok. The snow was awesome and more was falling constantly. We basically got the check out some mountains and the snowpack with the heli and then the weather would close again and bring more snow. Soon it was waist deep and the tree riding felt like I was back in Japan! It was dry, light and deep and stayed so for a long time. Clouds were protecting the perfect snow. Definitely the best snow of the season and. It was inspirational to ride such snow so close to home.

Tamok_Hast_spray_photoTeemulahtinen

Slasher in the tree line. Photo: Teemu Lahtinen

 

Hast_ollie_tamok_photoTeemulahtinen

Trees, pillows and ollie. Photo: Teemu Lahtinen

Waiting game

With the persistant low pressures circling the valley we were mostly stuck on the bottom and the bird stayed parked next to the caravans. That would have been completely ok to shred the trees and pillows with this snow but big plans and paralyzed helicopter started to create some pressure and frustration after a while. Every now and then we got brief weather windows and got to test and ride some awesome snow but as soon as the cameras came out the clouds rolled in. It started to be the story of the season for me, like the cameras and the weather didn’t make friends this year. But the riding was still awesome and the time spent with friends in the valley is priceless so I couldn’t complain at all. It’s hard to be mad at the weather and it’s better to make the best out it anyway and we did. We rode pillows and discovered new spots in the lower elevations and got creative with the heli too. And the weather has to clear sooner or later, right?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Buttering through the trees. Photo: Aadne Olsrud

 

TamokPart1_3 (2 of 8)

If the night is clear in March the norhtern lights are almost guaranteed.

 

TamokPart1_2 (9 of 9)

Antti Autti on Blåbaerfjellet

Check sites for more info:

Tamok Friends FB site for recent events and conditions

Olsrud Adventure FB site. Accommodation, services and more

 

 

SPLITLINES.com
SPONSORS
SPLITLINES.com
© 2017 All Rights Reserved