Word and Images by Kyle Miller
I was standing in the Lofoten Islands of Norway with little more than a return plane ticket to Seattle, 50 kilos of gear, two weeks of time, and not a single idea of where to head in this vast country. Best of all, I was alone, so wherever I went it was going to be an adventure.
We are in the golden age of technology and I put up a random post on Facebook asking, “Who is in Norway and where should I go?”
Within an hour, I received numerous messages and found that all signs were pointing north to experience the Lyngen Alps of Norway, just two hours outside of Tromsø, with local ski guide Zach Paley and the crew at Camp Kviteberg, after taking a few weather days to explore Tromsø, which is referred to as the Paris of the North.
With so much touring and traveling, I have created an extensive network of friends and potential touring partners all over the world. The power of social networks allows me to communicate with one friend in Australia and another friend in the U.K. and ask, “Do you have any friends in this certain location?”
It all came full circle through my friend Adam Fleming, who I toured with in New Zealand and who had met and ridden with Zach in Japan. He said Zach and I would make great touring partners. I took his word for it. Interestingly enough, this was the same way I met Adam, as well as our touring partners in Iceland—Lorenzo and Lea—who we toured with in the Lofoten Islands.
But our new crew arrived in the Lyngen Alps under cloudy skies, which had become our standard in Norway. We decided that stretching our legs would be good for the soul, and that we should check conditions on the higher slopes. Soon enough, we found ourselves bootpacking up a 50-degree couloir in waist- to chest-deep stable powder, and descended in some of the best snow I had experienced all season, on May 1. It was official: I was in love with the Lyngen Alps.
The Lyngen is a small yet rugged range carved out by once-massive glaciers running south to north, and is isolated by fjords on both the west and east sides. At almost 70 degrees latitude north, it is the land of the midnight sun during spring and summer, as well as a hotspot for the northern lights in the winter. The word “Lyngen” is a Swedish term meaning calm—as the east-side fjords’ calm weather was used for shelter from storms blowing in from the Arctic. From mellow south-facing corn runs to 55-degree mandatory rappels, it quickly becomes obvious that Scandinavian hardcore ski tourers always find themselves training in the Lyngen Alps.
With a promising forecast of sunshine for my last five days, we made the decision to set up a base camp at a fork of three separate valleys and explore our surrounding environment. It was halfway into the first day before the clouds finally departed and I got my first full-on view of the Lyngen Alps. Though the range was small, it packed endless options for steep skiing and/or mellow open slopes. It had terrain for everyone. That night I had a uniquely Arctic North experience, riding a 50-degree couloir at midnight without the use of a headlamp and—better yet—in knee-deep dry snow. It was a surreal experience.
Over the next few days, we ran around tagging steep north-facing powder slopes in the morning and late afternoon, and rode corn in the mid-afternoon, riding directly back to camp each time. We had this grand thought that we would explore all of the valleys but in the end we only scratched the surface, climbing and riding only the first peak in a long and twisty range of endless options. I was sad when the final day of the trip arrived, as I felt I could have spent a full month keeping myself busy. But it was time to head back home to the Cascade Range, where spring volcano season was firing.
The trip to Scandinavia was such an overwhelmingly great blend of traditions, culture, and outdoor experiences. With a lot of the trips I go on, I find myself ready to be back home, but this time I felt like I was home (just maybe a few generations off). From riding fjords down to the ocean in Iceland, sea kayaking in the Lofoten Islands of Norway, and finally having conditions coming together in the Lyngen Alps of Norway, this trip was all I dreamed of and more.
Throughout this adventure, I found myself recalling a the Dr. Seuss quote: “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” Well said, well said.
Huge thanks to Zach Paley for making this possible David Snørasta at Camp Kviteberg for showing me his local stomping grounds.